Review of Religious Research

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 535–553 | Cite as

Reactionary Deconversion from Mormonism: Polarization of Ideological and Behavioral Religiosity Among Active and Former Mormons

  • James S. McGraw
  • Samuel O. Peer
  • Matthew R. Draper
Research Note


In contrast to a growing body of literature examining the experiences and trends of those who leave their faith tradition—particularly among Christian denominations—relatively little is known about those who specifically disaffiliate from Mormonism, although some evidence suggests that former Mormons may be especially likely to embrace secularity or irreligion rather than other religious beliefs and practices. Pursuant to empirically investigating this reactionary dynamic, the current study compared the relative religiosity and secularity of an online sample of active Mormons (n = 194) and former Mormons (n = 109) using the Abbreviated Religiousness Measure (ARM), an updated questionnaire of multidimensional religiosity. Results supported the ARM’s improved psychometrics and its hypothesized three-factor structure with both subsamples. Additionally, multivariate and univariate results indicated that active and former Mormon participants from our sample, significantly polarized in their self-reported level of religious beliefs, rituals, and influence on daily behaviors, with active Mormon reporting high religiosity and former Mormons reporting low religiosity or high secularity. Although these results comport with reactionary deconversion dynamics found in other high cost religions, limits to generalizability are discussed. Reasons for and implications of this reactionary phenomenon are also posited.


Mormons Religiosity Secularity Disconversion Disaffiliation 


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Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. McGraw
    • 1
  • Samuel O. Peer
    • 2
  • Matthew R. Draper
    • 3
  1. 1.Bowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Idaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA
  3. 3.Utah Valley UniversityOremUSA

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