“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble,” Will Rogers (or Josh Billings or Artemus Ward or Kin Hubbard or Mark Twain) is reported to have said. “It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
With that wise insight in mind, we take a look at actual data that are relevant to current perceptions:
My friend and BYU departmental colleague John Gee has just recently published a book — I myself don’t yet have a copy of it, but I hope to remedy that defect soon — in an area that, while distinct from his academic training in ancient languages and Egyptology, he has been seriously investigating for a number of years.
In recent years, a number of stories have been circulating claiming that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is losing youth in droves. This notion contradicts a 2005 study, cited by President Gordon B. Hinckley in a general conference address, that showed that Latter-day Saint youth know more about their faith and show greater commitment to its teachings, particularly when it comes to social behavior, than do their peers.
These dismal accounts of the youth fleeing the Church are usually based on anecdotes rather than on data. Large-scale, well-structured studies give more reason for hope. This book—for parents, leaders, and others interested in youth and young adults—discusses the studies and identifies factors that lead youth away from faith as well as those practices that protect, sustain, and encourage faith. On the bright side, parents are probably already doing a number of things that encourage faith in their youth. Close examination shows that weekly church attendance, daily prayer, frequent scripture study, and avoiding sexual activity outside of marriage make a difference in maintaining and preserving faith, confirming what scriptures and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have advised for many years.
I like the very brief review of the book, by John Hilton III, that appears on Amazon.com:
I really enjoyed reading this book. John Gee cites literally hundreds of studies but he does so in a very accessible way. I learned a lot about what influences people to both lose and gain faith. Highly recommended for church leaders, teachers and parents.
On a quite different note, I’ve been under some attack in certain circles over the past three days as a clueless and unfeeling white man and an exploitative racist for sharing, with his permission, a Facebook post written by a neighbor and good friend who happens to be a Native American, a Tlingit, from Alaska. (See “Please Keep the Name ‘Redskins.’”). I’m apparently perfectly happy, alleged white supremacist that I am, with maintaining an obviously racist name for a team in the National Football League, no matter how offensive it is to people of Amerindian backgrounds.
Now, to be perfectly clear (yet again), I’ll be absolutely fine if the Washington Redskins choose to change their name. I genuinely don’t care. But is the name Redskins really offensive to Native Americans? I don’t know. And the “new poll” below was published on 19 May 2016. Views may have changed dramatically since then, though I’m personally aware of nothing in particular that would have decisively changed them over the past four years. But this poll seems to indicate that complaints about the name Redskins don’t represent the large majority of Amerindians:
I suspect that a lot of the righteous indignation on the matter actually comes from a relatively small group of unrepresentative militants and from woke, virtue-signaling white folks. Which just proves, I guess, that I’m a a clueless and unfeeling white supremacist and an exploitative racist who cares nothing about the mistreatment of Native Americans. Or something like that.