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Outside Utah and Idaho it is a well kept secret, but it does much to explain the success of the Church in retaining most of its youth as active and participating adults.

do you know what the retention rate is for mormon youth as they progress into adulthood? any numbers regarding retention for those who attend seminary vs. those who don't?


Just out of curiosity, who are you talking to? Do you get a lot of non-Mormons reading here?

Mike, I was hoping a reader might chime in with total enrollment figures, and comparative retention figures would be interesting too. I know this data is out there ...

Eric, not all visitors know the LDS lingo. With some terms the potential for confusion is greather than with others. "Mormon seminary" is one of those: to anyone but a Mormon, it sounds like a full-time two-year program of study to become a Mormon minister. The LDS seminary program has a much different focus, of course.

Total enrollment for the 2003-4 school year:


Sounds like a cool new regular feature, Dave. I'm looking forward to it. I taught early morning seminary for a couple of years in San Diego and I can assure you it makes a difference in the lives of these young people. The sacrifice required to get up for a 6 AM scripture study class before high school is pretty shocking. I barely managed to make it on most days and I was the teacher. I think if nothing else it drives home the reality that there are different worlds within our world. When you juxtapose the spiritually enriching, sublime experiences that often (but certainly not always) happen in seminary with the sensory overloading onslaught of vulgarity they receive immediately after seminary at school is striking. But without seminary it would be easy to forget there is another world than the one they experience at school.

Mike, Alan Wolfe in Transformation of American Religion observes that Mormons (81.4%) are only second to Jews (85.4%) in retaining the faith of their child hood (pg. 47). He goes on to say that the overwhelming majority of Americans change faiths at least once in a lifetime.

Thanks for the data, gentlemen. I am truly spoiled in having such well-informed readers.

Minor threadjack here:
Does anyone know where I could get a list of which scripture mastery verses they used prior to the list of 25? There used to be a list of 40, but that was pared down.

Some of the scriptures we memorized in 1985 which seem to have been jettisoned include:

9: 7-9
20: 25-6
20: 37
59: 21
64: 23

68: 25-7
72: 3-4
76: 111
88: 78-81
89: 2-4

93: 24
104: 15-17
107: 99-100
115: 5-6
119: 4

128: 15
132: 15
Moses 1: 39
Abraham 3: 22-23
JS History: 69

This is more than an additional fifteen, because several new ones have been added that weren't there before (8: 2-3, 10: 5, 25: 12, 137: 7-10)

Also some of the retained passages have been cut down. It used to be

58: 26-9
59: 9-13
121: 34-41
and JS history 5-20

This could be slightly off on a detail or two since I'm working from memory, but it's substantially correct.

Rereading the post, I think I see why the numbers didn't add up. I erroneously included 64:23 in the list of excised passages, when it's really still on the new list.

Bill, you whipped up that list from memory, from 1985? That is truly impressive. You either had the world's finest seminary teacher or were a very, very dedicated student, or both!

Probably it was because I was in ninth grade and seminary was a little new and exciting. By the time I was a senior (back in early morning after being spoiled by a year of home study) I was falling asleep with alarming regularity. So I couldn't give you the old Old Testament list.

It occurs to me that there are about 360 thousand students enrolled in seminary, but only around 45 thousand young men serving full time missions (I would guess, given about 56 thousand total full time missionaries). That would mean only about half of the young men who go through seminary serve full time missions. Does that sound about right?

Thanks Bill for the info. I am surprised that this information is so hard to get. I have been looking for it for a while and can't seem to find it anywhere (speaking specifically of the OT scriptures).

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