Studies on religious disaffiliation have largely ignored the gendered dynamics at play in decisions to exit and the exit experience itself. We begin to address this gap by foregrounding gender as a structuring variable in the exit process. As we examine the disaffiliation narratives of twenty formerly Mormon women—members of a women-only Facebook support group—we find that gender infuses their reasons for exiting as well as their experiences during the exit process. Concerns with authenticity feature prominently in how they narrate their deconversion experiences. We call for greater attention to the role of gender and authenticity in research on religious disaffiliation.

Scholars have studied the disaffiliation patterns of the formerly religious, sought to outline the generic social psychological processes of deconversion, the causes and consequences of religious apostasy, and other forms of religious exiting.1 Survey research shows the complexity of changing religious affiliation and disaffiliation patterns in the United States, where in the twenty-first century the rise of the nones and those who affirm secular identities and belief systems have been important areas of focus.2 Though this literature has identified clear sociological patterns, few studies have focused on the experience of women alone or inspected the gendered dynamics at play in the process of religious exiting.3

In this article, we address this gap by drawing on interviews with twenty women who were members of a Facebook group designed to help them navigate their disenchantment with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church or Mormon Church). We show that gender shapes disaffection with religion in significant ways. We follow sociologists Candace West and Don Zimmerman in our understanding of gender—it is something one does rather than something one is. West and Zimmerman stress that as one’s gender identity is constructed in conjunction with sets of normative attitudes and activities about membership in sex categories, individuals find themselves held accountable to others in how they present their gendered selves; in other words, they “do” gender during social interactions in order to achieve (or reject) a gender identity.4 Thus, we argue that, due to the gendered nature of religious institutions, particularly conservative religions, and the “doing” of gender expected of women and men within these institutions, the disaffiliation experiences of women are qualitatively different from men.5 Our article illustrates that studies of religious exiting need to include more research on how this varies by gender, as suggested by previous scholars.6 We approach this through an interview-based case study of members of Outcast Women (OW), a Facebook group dedicated to connecting and supporting women who are in the process of leaving, or have already left, the LDS Church. We address questions including: What is the experience of women who leave high-cost religion? How does this process unfold for women? What are some of the ways that gender surfaces during these exits?

These questions motivated the early stages of our research, but as the project progressed we identified and came to focus on questions of authenticity’s role in identity-change and self-concept, and the role of narrative in understanding religious exit. Gender repeatedly surfaced as OW discussed Latter-day Saint theology and culture as well as in the issues they chose to focus on when describing their religious exits. We argue that, due to beliefs, teachings, and cultural practices infused with gender essentialism, high-cost religious disaffiliation should be understood and studied as a gendered experience. Additionally, we call attention to the shifting bases of authenticity at work within religious exiters’ narratives. Our analysis integrates these issues with the patterns and themes that emerged from our data.

Religion and Gender

Long a marginalized topic within the sociology of religion, scholars have recently called for increased study of the complex intersection of gender and religion and the role each plays in constituting the other. Sociology of religion scholarship highlighting gender has tended to focus on topics such as the oppression of women within patriarchal religious institutions or the agency of women in conservative religions.7 Recent work in this area has expanded our understanding of, for example, the meaning of wearing the hijab among United States Muslim women, British feminist women’s expressions of religious and spiritual identities, and the impact of gendered god imagery on support for women in the workplace.8 Scholarship on the nonreligious has also begun to focus more attention on gender. The continuation of patriarchal discourse and practices within atheist communities and the theorization of social risk tolerance among nonreligious women are two recent examples.9

While more attention is being paid to the relationship between gender and (non)religion, there is a paucity of studies on the gendered nature of religious disaffiliation.10 Various theories have attempted to explain gender differences in religion, crosscutting structural and micro dimensions including economic forces, patriarchy, power-control, individual differences in values, commitment, risk-taking, and differences in socialization.11 Especially when understood in a conservative, high-cost religious context such as the LDS Church, the role of gender in women’s religious exits requires detailed examination. “High-cost” is a term used to describe religious communities with distinctive doctrines, strong levels of in-group attachment and socialization, extensive member time commitments, and controlled, stigmatized exits.12 While they often overlap with high-cost religions, conservative religions are different. Conservative religions are religions that hold traditional ideas about gender, specifically that there are innate differences between men and women that warrant different treatment of people on the basis of their gender (or biological sex). Such ideas become reified in discourse and through institutional practices over generations.13 While high-cost religions are often conservative, they need not be. Thus, it is important to distinguish between the two.

The LDS Church stands as a prime example of high-cost religion that is also conservative in its construction of gender, even though early in its history gender roles were more egalitarian.14 At the end of the twentieth century, LDS leaders’ interpretation of Mormon doctrine had evolved to sacralize the gender binary even while its leaders put a great deal of effort into socializing men and women into their gendered roles.15 The result was gender essentialism—assuming that men and women are innately and immutably different. This gender essentialism can be seen in the language used in talks and teachings by leaders of the LDS Church as well as in the public statement made by the leaders in 1995 titled The Family: A Proclamation to the World, in which the leadership sacralized gender, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”16 In twentieth and twenty-first century Mormonism, women are conceptualized as nurturers and caretakers, while men are providers and protectors.17 These categorizations are contested, however, and individual Latter-day Saint women find ways in which to exercise their subjectivity while maintaining their LDS identity and even press for gender-related institutional change.18 This balancing act of feminism and gender essentialism is not always successful. We find that the clash of conservative and progressive views of women’s roles plays a significant part in many women’s decisions to disaffiliate from the faith. Likewise, many LDS women point to earlier periods in the history of the LDS Church when women were on a more egalitarian footing with men to justify their disagreement with current teachings about gender in the LDS Church.19 This study addresses the role of gender in LDS women’s disaffiliation.

Based on our findings, we contend that gender is a central aspect of identity that should be given more attention in research on religion. Further, we suggest that an evolving narrative of authenticity, one which shifts the basis of religious and spiritual identity from that provided by a religious worldview and community to one rooted in the modern ideal of locating the “real” self inside the individual, is a key part of the disaffiliation process in contemporary society. In many ways, our findings align with those of sociologist Stuart Wright, who argued that there are many similarities between leaving a new religious movement and divorce, including disentangling emotional bonds, disillusionment, and feelings of confusion, anxiety, anger, and depression.20

Past research into gender differences in religion has found that women are more religious than men on a number of measures of religiosity. Perhaps that is one reason that women’s disaffiliation experiences have not received more attention: these experiences are largely invisible, or at least insignificant, in quantitative explorations of this topic. If research is focused only on the largest group in the sample, or on the most significant results, much rich, detailed information about the meanings, pathways, and experiences of other groups may be missed. As feminist researchers often point out, it is only through studying the lived experiences of marginalized groups that their experiences are shown to be meaningfully different from the expected “norm,” which has typically meant “middle-class white men.” The lack of a gender lens in studies on disaffiliation may be an example of this phenomenon. In qualitative explorations of disaffiliation, religions’ gender-related beliefs and practices have emerged as reasons for leaving their religion among women respondents, but in-depth discussions of these issues rarely occur.21 By contrast, the sample for this study consists of twenty disaffiliating and formerly Latter-day Saint women, and gender issues are discussed in great detail. Among our interviewees, we find that a search for authenticity runs through their exit narratives as they begin to re-define teachings and practices inside the religion and undergo the exit process. By foregrounding the use of an authenticity discourse by women who have left a high-cost religion and analyzing the social circumstances to which this discourse is connected, we can better understand the process of exiting the LDS Church and possibly other high-cost religions as an inherently gendered experience.22


Previous studies examining authenticity have found it to be a slippery concept, and consensus on a precise definition has proven elusive. Theorists have used the term differently, applying it in ways to fit specific contexts and historical moments. Sociologist Dennis Waskul and communication scholar Phillip Vannini associate authenticity with genuineness, originality, and realness in relation to others in one’s social milieu.23 This definition relates authenticity to the subjective experience of meeting one’s self-commitments, which in turn are products of more objective socio-historical conditions.24 Sociologist Anthony Giddens maintains the focus on authenticity’s self-referential character by defining it as “the moral thread of self-actualization…based on being true to oneself.”25 In accordance with this view, Waskul posits authenticity as “a situational coincidence of concurrent and emergent definitions of the situation…in an eternal flux.”26

Usage of the concept of authenticity has at times been criticized for being too narrowly individualistic, and if carried through to its logical extreme, would ignore or deny the reality of shared meanings and collectively held social norms and institutions.27 Assumptions about an individual’s “true” self are connected not just to norm-reinforcing institutions, but with the proliferation of identity-based movements and an expanding variety of – often conflicting – ways in which to express one’s individuality in physical and digital space. The “saturated self” has, in this sense, become more saturated still.28 The implications of this for authenticity should be carefully considered.

It quickly became clear that authenticity as a concept was critically important to Outcast Women participants, as it was pervasive in their thinking and language. Having acknowledged the challenges of its definition, we conceptualize authenticity as the ongoing and discursive process of aligning the socially presented self—via talk and action—with the values one actually believes one holds. Authenticity narratives, like all narratives, do work for us by making experience social. Narratives put individual emotions and situations into familiar frameworks, making them intelligible both to those experiencing them and to others in their social world.29 Through these frameworks, narratives allow individuals to re-experience past events and construct potential future scenarios.30 This study adds to research on authenticity by examining its relationship to personal narrative and the work it does in the religious exiting process.

Setting and Data Collection

Our primary source of data is twenty semi-structured interviews conducted in the summer of 2015 with members of a women-only Facebook support group for doubting, disaffiliating, and formerly Latter-day Saint women. The group, which we will refer to throughout with the pseudonym “Outcast Women,” or “OW,” was a secret Facebook group with an approximate membership of 200.31 The secret status meant that individuals who were not members of the group were unable to search for it on Facebook or see its list of members. This provided a useful space in which members could discuss issues important to them more freely than would otherwise be the case. Our study included participants who had already left the LDS Church, as well as those who were in the process of doing so, which was analytically useful since not all respondents were sharing their experience purely retrospectively.

At the time of the study, most group members lived in Utah, the headquarters of the LDS Church and the state with the highest concentration of LDS individuals in the United States. Participants were from 25 to 45 years old with a mean age of 36.32 OW was originally organized as a place to coordinate live meetups. This suggests the group has a different quality than is seen in many social media groups in that it maintained a focus on in-person events and developed an offline community. Of course, our sample is by no means representative of all women who leave the LDS Church.

Table 1.

Outcast Women Interviewees’ Characteristics (n=20)

Cisgender Status: Female 20   
Age (Average) 36 28 55 
Marital Status    
 Married 16   
Children 2.4 
Employed outside of the home 13   
 Full time   
 Part time   
LDS Church Involvement    
Attended services at least once a week as a child 20   
Held church leadership positions 15   
Served an LDS mission   
Married in the LDS temple 19   
Removed name from LDS records after disaffiliation   
Religious/Spiritual Beliefs & Practices    
Current belief in a higher power    
 Judeo-Christian God   
 Other higher power   
 None 10   
Read Religious/Spiritual Materials Regularly    
 LDS Materials   
Current Church Attendance    
 LDS services   
 Other Christian   
Pray or Meditate Regularly   
Cisgender Status: Female 20   
Age (Average) 36 28 55 
Marital Status    
 Married 16   
Children 2.4 
Employed outside of the home 13   
 Full time   
 Part time   
LDS Church Involvement    
Attended services at least once a week as a child 20   
Held church leadership positions 15   
Served an LDS mission   
Married in the LDS temple 19   
Removed name from LDS records after disaffiliation   
Religious/Spiritual Beliefs & Practices    
Current belief in a higher power    
 Judeo-Christian God   
 Other higher power   
 None 10   
Read Religious/Spiritual Materials Regularly    
 LDS Materials   
Current Church Attendance    
 LDS services   
 Other Christian   
Pray or Meditate Regularly   

Note: The two women who answered that they either read LDS materials or attended LDS services indicated that they did so for their family members.

Immediate access to OW was possible because the lead researcher was herself a member of the group. An initial request for interviewees was posted in the group, which brought in a number of women willing to participate in the project. Subsequent women were suggested to the lead researcher by this group of initial interviewees. It was communicated to all that the purpose of the study was to explore and better understand women’s religious disaffiliation experiences. Participants were informed upfront about the nature of the research questions, which involved the doctrinal, cultural, and/or historical reasons for their religious doubts, their personal reasons for joining OW, and their perceptions of the benefits and costs incurred from OW group participation (in the interest of full disclosure, the other two authors are both former LDS as well).

Interviews averaged thirty minutes in length and were guided by a structured interview schedule. Based on what was most convenient for each participant, interviews were conducted in participants’ homes (n=17), in public spaces (n=2), and via telephone (n=1). All but three interviews were digitally recorded; the others were documented in detailed written notes. As many qualitative scholars have noted, the biographies of field researchers and interviewers can be of particular importance to the data collection process.33 Given the topic and nature of the research, the first author conducted all of the interviews. The lead researcher was a member of the Facebook group, which lent the interviews a natural and conversational feel despite the structured nature of the interview schedule.34 We recognize that the presence of an “insider” interviewer brings with it its own set of challenges. Insider interviewers bring their own biases and blind spots into the design and execution of interviews. Interviewees may make assumptions about the level of understanding and even agreement between themselves and the interviewer. However, we believe that the rapport between the interviewer and interviewees due to their shared background created an environment that encouraged the honest exploration of emotionally charged issues.

It is also worth mentioning that the selection of participants may have influenced our findings, which is always a risk when conducting qualitative research with nonrepresentative samples. The vast majority of people who leave religions do not turn to self-help groups for support.35 That we selected our participants from a self-help group may have increased the odds that they had experienced greater challenges disentangling themselves from the LDS Church than do many others who leave the religion.36 However, that our sample is drawn from the ranks of a self-help group may actually clarify some of the common experiences of disaffiliation among religious exiters.

Data Analysis

We took an inductive approach to the data, with an eye to developing themes based on whatever patterns revealed themselves in participants’ narratives. We began by giving a first close reading of each interview transcript, during which time analytical notes and other observations were made with respect to basic ideas and patterns in the data.37 We then created a coding sheet organized by general topics. We moved from initial codes to more focused codes as patterns in participants’ responses became apparent.38 As the analysis progressed, we coded with the goal of generating useful concepts that intersected with the broader themes revealed in and across participants’ narratives. This approach to coding and analysis facilitated making theoretical connections with relevant literature and in working out how our analysis contributes to it.

As sociologist Helen Rose Ebaugh observed decades ago in her study of becoming an “ex,” upsetting gender expectations can play an important part in the process of role exit.39 Indeed, this experience surfaced in most OW interviewees’ disaffiliation narratives. LDS Church teachings about gender essentialism, the unequal gendered division of church resources, exclusion from positions of institutional power, and gendered historical practices deemed oppressive such as polygamy, were the gender-related themes that emerged from interviews with OW members.

Gendered Authenticity

Brenna, a thirty-five-year-old graduate student with two children, was one of many interviewees who brought up the pressure placed on LDS women to become mothers, and the gender essentialist notion, reinforced in the church’s “Proclamation on the Family” that women are innate nurturers.40 At the same time, she sensed an uneasiness in the church’s continual focus on the women-as-nurturers paradigm: “The whole rhetoric around the culture of motherhood and it’s like this idolized, crazy thing that we’re all supposed to be, and we’re naturally born that way, but we also have to be taught how to be that way, which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

Critiquing the high value placed on motherhood allowed OW interviewees a space to express their own ambivalent feelings about their personal motherhood journeys and afforded them the opportunity to elevate other identities in their hierarchies—artist, graduate student, activist—above that of “mother.” This reorganization of the female identity hierarchy was a key part of the authenticity, and by extension, identity struggle for many interviewees.41

The LDS Church’s past practice, and continued refusal to disavow, polygamy was seen as problematic by a majority of OW interviewees. Women’s discomfort with polygamy was often expressed with gendered concerns at the forefront. For instance, the majority of interviewees mentioned feelings of unease regarding the actions of LDS Church founder Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805–1844) among their most influential reasons for choosing to disaffiliate. This unease was often linked to his introduction of polygamy—which he began clandestinely in 1833 but spread to his inner circle in the early 1840s—and his particular ways of engaging in the practice.42 Melanie, a thirty-nine-year-old woman who had recently completed her bachelor’s degree, stated, “I went and checked out all of the books on polygamy and everything and from there…totally destroyed my belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet.” Polygamy, while not currently allowed by the LDS Church, is still an integral part of its theology. Men are allowed to be “sealed” to more than one wife in LDS Church temple ceremonies if their spouse dies with the understanding that those wives will belong to them in the afterlife. In contrast, LDS women may be sealed to only one man. Experiences around these and other rituals performed inside of LDS temples came up often in women’s disaffiliation narratives. The experiences of twenty-eight-year-old Chloe, a teacher with two children, with gendered temple rituals shows the past, present, and future-focused understandings that she placed on these rituals in regard to LDS teachings on gender:

The temple doctrine was a big one because it took me from thinking that the gender norm stuff in the church was maybe just tradition and that it would someday change. And then when I went through the temple, I realized that it wasn’t just like a cultural hangover from the fifties or something, it was doctrinal, and it wasn’t going to change, at least not any time soon.43

The LDS Church has a lay priesthood in which spiritually and morally “worthy” male members twelve years old and older are ordained to increasing levels of spiritual and institutional authority. At twelve, male members may be ordained to the Aaronic priesthood, or preparatory priesthood, which allows them to participate in certain Church rituals, such as the blessing and distribution of the sacrament. The Melchizedek, or greater priesthood, is available to males eighteen and older and gives men authority to participate in higher-level Church rituals and the ability to serve in leadership positions. Female members are not ordained to either priesthood, excluding them from key positions of authority within the religion. Mona, a self-employed thirty-four-year-old mother of four, felt this lack of institutional power was an erasure of women’s perspectives within the church: “I think that a lot of what was difficult for me, though, was the patriarchy, not having a feminine voice.” The search for that “feminine voice,” or the rejection of the LDS Church’s version of femininity, was part of the authenticity narratives of many interviewees.

Problems with LDS theology and practices surrounding gender were not limited to spiritual concerns. Gender differences in access to financial resources, both inside the religion and in the LDS Church-dominated Utah business world, emerged in OW members’ stories. Growing up, Shelly, a thirty-nine-year-old mother of three, described being aware of a disparity between resources available for boys’ and girls’ activities in her congregation.44 This disparity led to a feeling that boys’ development was of greater value to the leadership of the LDS Church. Martha’s quest for authenticity included supporting women’s advancement in the Utah business world. She linked women’s exclusion from priesthood ordination to their small numbers in business and civic leadership positions in Utah, “As long as women are excluded from leadership positions in the LDS Church, wherever you have somebody who’s making a hiring decision who is LDS, they are not going to see that woman as a leader, you know?”

Even after leaving the LDS Church, OW interviewees expressed difficulties when interacting with ex-LDS men. Many interviewees were members of other, mixed-gender Facebook LDS disaffiliation support groups and encountered patriarchal dynamics in these groups similar to those they experienced in the LDS Church. For instance, Chloe noted, “I’ve found that in a lot of the mixed gender groups on Facebook were former Mormons who maintained all the patriarchal bullshit; they just don’t believe anymore.” Crystal, a thirty-four-year-old married stay-at-home mother of two, lamented, “The men in there [mixed-gender Facebook groups] tend to think they’re enlightened but still have a lot of misogynistic opinions, and I don’t like that in those groups. I don’t feel like sometimes they’re willing to look at that because they feel like they’ve come so far.” Terms such as “mansplaining” and “the hand of the patriarchy” were used by OW interviewees when asked to describe their interactions with post-LDS men. Speaking over women, negating their opinions or displaying an unwillingness to consider women’s different experiences within the LDS Church and society in general were some of the examples interviewees offered to describe their less-than-satisfying interactions with these men. These experiences show that exiting a patriarchal religion does not automatically mean leaving behind ingrained beliefs, assumptions, values, and behaviors related to gender.45 OW women’s continual expressions of ways their experiences as LDS women left them feeling discontented, undervalued, or uncomfortable, along with the interactions and situations they described with post-LDS men, show that gender was a key factor in their disaffiliation journeys.

Awakenings of Authenticity

As OW interviewees shared their stories, two common and interconnected narratives emerged. One narrative placed theological issues as the initial drivers of their disaffiliation. The other foregrounded discontent with LDS Church culture. What women generally explained was that, after their initial questioning, they noticed, in cumulative fashion, other aspects of their religion that troubled them, which led to a desire to disaffiliate. Martha, a thirty-five-year-old full-time working mother of one, described her awakening beginning with a discomfort over institutional expectations, though she cautioned she would not have left the church based on its demands alone:

I was always really tied into the theology of the plan of salvation, that sounded really appealing to me.…Just all of that checklist stuff, it was exhausting and eventually I was just like, the kind of perfection that is required of Mormon women just kind of broke me.…I [was] just totally broken and worn out, you know?46

Later, Martha discovered other issues that she found problematic. She used these additional discoveries to bolster her initial doubts:

Secondarily, I would say it’s probably doctrine over historical issues. I know the historical issues are, like, crap. I know that the Book of Mormon is just, like, totally fraudulent, especially the Book of Abraham is very obvious. Those things actually don’t bother me as much as what the church currently does.

The historical, doctrinal, and cultural issues with which Martha experienced discomfort merged into an overall distrust of and discomfort with the LDS Church as an institution. Jane, a married thirty-two-year-old with a master’s degree, had a similar experience, one that began from a position of cultural discomfort: “I just felt really used, and then I felt overworked, and then I thought, ‘What am I getting in return for this?’” Several other women highlighted a similar kind of general dissatisfaction with the institutional pressures they faced as church members and, more pointedly, as Latter-day Saint women. Darby, a thirty-six-year-old stay-at-home mother of three, expressed concerns that were illustrative of these gendered institutional pressures, “It’s the current treatment of women in the church, including female ordination, but also just mostly gender roles, the way that we’re taught to be women, and the way our potential is limited because of those, what they consider, divine gender roles.”

This dissatisfaction opened up space for more concentrated spiritual questioning. Such was the case for Brenna, who explained her awakening by borrowing an image from a familiar narrative: “I always describe my experience as like in the Emperor’s New Clothes. And I kept trying to see the clothes, and then finally I was like, ‘There’s no clothes!’” Narratives work not only to guide individuals’ understandings of their social worlds but to recast familiar ideas in ways that reveal new truths.47 In repurposing the narrative of the Emperor’s New Clothes, Brenna taps into social narratives that prize challenging authority and revealing prevarication, both of which fit within an overarching quest toward the authentic expressions of one’s emotions and ideas.48

Judgmental attitudes among LDS Church members was a commonly expressed theme of cultural discomfort. Amber, a forty-year-old former science teacher and the only OW interviewee who lived outside of Utah, felt that LDS Church culture was “judgy” and “image-driven.” What, exactly, did this judgment entail, and why did it affect the women so profoundly? We suggest that concerns with judgment represent expressions of deep and problematic experiences with both theological claims and institutional forces in which gender plays a key role. Feeling like a part of the “in-group” is a key component of high-cost religious membership; in fact, it is one of its defining features.49 Repeated experiences with exclusion, whether personally felt or witnessed may weaken feelings of safety among group members, especially when the individual singled out for exclusionary treatment belongs to a historically marginalized group.50

Furthermore, this discomfort with judgment is intimately connected with other problematic issues raised by interviewees such as gender inequality and the LDS Church’s treatment of LGBTQ persons. Lily, a recently divorced thirty-five-year-old graduate student, mentioned the exclusion of specific groups as part of her awakening to authenticity: “Like, the priesthood ban on the blacks…then, it was treatment of oppressed populations, like the LGBT community.” Concerns with judgment ran the gamut from the personal to the political, but all involved a concern with perceived unequal treatment within their community.

Merging Self-Values and Visible Actions

Authenticity involves an alignment between stories, beliefs, and actions. One’s sense of authenticity is more a matter of degree than of kind. As Sociologist Rebecca Erickson observes, individuals do not typically define themselves as being wholly authentic or inauthentic.51 Similarly, self-values related to authenticity differ from person to person. One individual’s authentic experience may feel like a betrayal of self-values to another. It was important for OW interviewees to find ways to define authenticity for themselves rather than accept previously constructed definitions of the concept. For many, this resulted in authenticity being viewed as both a process and a destination, with stops, starts, and steps forward and backward along the journey.

While the view of authenticity as a process was commonly held by participants, the desire to arrive eventually at a place where their visible actions mirrored their self-values was seen as the ideal. After the initial decision to leave the religion, it was common for OW interviewees to express a lack of understanding as to what their lives might look like outside of the LDS Church. This echoes Ebaugh’s third stage of role exit, seeking alternatives, in which individuals recognize they have a choice regarding their identity, and they begin the search for new reference groups to give language and structure to emerging identities.52 Their models of female identity had largely been housed within their religious culture, their personal values reflected the church’s value system, and their life trajectory had, by and large, been set out for them by their religion. Even the “discourses of authenticity” available to participants had themselves been framed within the institutional and symbolic boundaries of the church.53 Finding gendered models of life after their religious exits made this future-self appear attainable. Chloe shows the way that a shift in these discourses of authenticity due to her new reference group empowered her to be more visible with her disaffiliation:

Outcast Women I think has been really beneficial for me because it kind of provided the safety net for me to live more authentically in real life, which is funny because I feel like I’ve actually been really always authentic in my online life.…But in my real life practice I was still really tied up in trying to not fit in to Mormon culture but at least not offend Mormon culture. And I realized I wasn’t really living authentically.…Outcast Women showed me women who were actually practicing what they believed and they weren’t afraid to be who they were. And that encouraged me to not be afraid of who I was and I started living, I think, more authentically in practice not just online. And that was really beneficial.

Jerusha, a fifty-five-year-old grandmother and archivist, stated that she “felt that everybody was genuine and talked about real issues” in OW, while Kendra, a thirty-eight-year-old self-employed mother of two, appreciated watching “women in there [OW]…very intensely working through things and learning things and growing.” Words such as “learn,” “grow,” “real,” and “genuine” expressed the view that authenticity would not arrive by itself; rather, it would be constructed over time as women became more aware of what their self-values were and what it meant to bring their actions into alignment with those values. As sociologist Jodi O’Brien found in her study of gay Christians, the process through which individuals negotiated their religious identities with their “contradictory” sexual identities is itself a source of meaning and purpose.54 Like O’Brien’s participants, the social and psychological struggle involved with divesting a former religious identity was for these OW members, an essential part of the process of constructing a new authentic self.

Darby, a thirty-eight-year-old who had served a church mission in her early twenties, framed her authenticity as emerging from the visible examples of post-LDS living evident among members of OW:

I was still very injured by the church, and my identity was still very much wrapped up in the damage that the church had done to me, and I see all these women who are living their lives out loud, post-Mormonism, even though a lot of the women in the group have broken lives.

Here, the recognition that authenticity did not equate to wholeness was evident. Whether a pre-awakening wholeness existed in the women’s memories, this was not what they expressed a desire to achieve during their authenticity-seeking journey. While Lily longed to merge her actions with her new self-values, she recognized, like the participants in O’Brien’s study, that this may result in both greater freedom and deeper pain.55 For instance, familial relationships already damaged by disaffiliation had the potential to be further strained through visible explorations of new post-LDS identities such as drinking coffee or wearing clothes outside of LDS Church modesty norms.56 Thus, authenticity was understood as a double-edged sword: a joining of thought and action that may be accompanied by a widening of relational wounds across the religious divide.

This article has addressed the place of gender and the shifting bases of authenticity by examining the narratives of women participating in a Facebook group as they exited the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We argue that these themes bear significant relation to women’s experiences within the LDS Church’s gender ideology both during and after their religious exits. If we accept that the self in late modernity is an ongoing, reflexive creation, constantly under surveillance and construction, then the concept and language of authenticity in descriptions of the self are of profound importance.57 Given the relationship between one’s inner, cognitive representation of self and the external social forces that shape and constrain it, one must always be on guard that these states are in agreement in order to effectively broadcast one’s “true self” to the world. The definition of authenticity we constructed for this analysis recognizes the importance placed on awareness of motivation when engaging with the social world and the connection of inner self-values to outer manifestations of those values. How the self is portrayed relative to how one feels about its portrayal is a key concern.

Strong religious subcultures aid individuals in defining their self-values by inducting them into ready-made worldviews and providing them with models on which to construct the beliefs, temperaments, actions, and other constituents of self that are conducive to navigating the social world. Gender, as an already foundational component of the self, has particular import in LDS Church culture and in many high-cost, conservative religious groups in that doctrines and practices ground gender in essentialist explanations. These teachings serve to reinforce a dichotomous view of gender differences and perpetuate the view that gender and sex are intrinsically linked and that gender is, therefore, immutable and divinely ordained.58

Most OW interviewees discussed gender issues among their reasons for disaffiliation, including the historical practice of polygamy, lack of female ordination, and women’s exclusion from positions of institutional power. Interestingly, there is evidence that gender issues do not figure prominently in the reasons given by men for leaving religions.59 We find that gender’s role in disaffiliation is related to the differential framing of men’s and women’s religious experiences and understandings of self within Latter-day Saint theology and culture. In addition, OW interviewees’ expressions of frustration with sexism and misogyny in interactions with formerly Latter-day Saint men echoed recent criticism emerging from nonreligious communities, which are often populated with individuals who have exited religions.60 While there is now evidence that nonreligious and secular spaces remain gendered even after participants leave religions (particularly patriarchal religions), our article suggests that the focus on gender in the teachings of the LDS Church result in a different exiting process for men and women.

Our findings are similar to those of sociologists Howard Bahr and Stan Albrecht in that there is rarely a single factor that leads to the decision to leave the LDS Church.61 This is also consistent with the literature on religious disaffiliation generally.62 OW participants’ strong socialization and integration in the LDS Church over many years and their level of commitment to both the religion and its worldview would seem to make them unlikely candidates for disaffiliation. Yet, our analysis suggests that the norms of individuality, truth-seeking, and authenticity can supersede even very strong religious commitments when individuals connect with them more strongly than they do with the explanations and ideologies provided by their religions.

The women interviewed in this study exhibited a new understanding of authenticity that coincided with their changing anchors of self and represent a shift from institutional goals toward individual ones.63 In awakening to new definitions of authentic selves, OW interviewees echoed Bahr and Albrecht’s study of former members of the LDS Church as they described the many concerns that led them to question their faith.64 Some supported long-held assumptions in research on religious change that state that women are more likely to give cultural or interpersonal reasons for religious change due to their structural position in society.65 However, many women also cited theological and historical concerns as prompts for their initial doubts or as added concerns later in the disaffiliation process. The prominence of theological concerns may be due to the specific population under study. LDS Church culture stresses the need for members to obtain a personal testimony of the church’s truth claims through ongoing prayer, scripture study, and church attendance.66 Those who do not arrive at this destination must decide whether to accept their lack of testimony but stay within the institutional church or leave their religious community to maintain congruence between their internal and external states. Outcast Women interviewees made the decision to follow the latter path, framing it as both the natural extension of their search for authenticity and the logical outcome of their faith journeys.

This study adds to scholarly work on the role of gender in religion, specifically on gender’s place in religious change and the place of authenticity in contemporary society. However, additional research is needed to explore many issues outside the purview of this study. The sample in this study consisted solely of post-LDS women who no longer identified as religious, thereby limiting the conclusions that can be drawn from this research. Further studies should address high-cost religious disaffiliates who turn to other faiths rather than abandon religion in its entirety. Due to the focus on a particular support group designed solely for women, this research did not include interviews with men undergoing high-cost religious change. An additional limitation of this research is its focus on one particular high-cost religious community. While a small number of studies of other similar communities exist, more research is needed to understand the exit experiences from other high-cost groups.67

If current trends continue as projected, religious disaffiliation in the United States will follow the trajectory of other developed nations and continue to increase as a common life-course experience.68 Knowing the meaning individuals place on these journeys out of faith, gendered differences in disaffiliation experiences, and the costs and benefits they experience during these transitions will become increasingly important to researchers working to understand religion in contemporary society, gender, and identity, as well as for therapists working with clients during faith transitions.


For a general discussion of what it is like to leave a variety of religions, see: Daniel Enstedt, Göran Larsson, and Teemu T. Mantsinen, Handbook of Leaving Religion (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2019), 1–7. For an understanding of the psychological process involved in leaving religions, see: Heinz Streib, Ralph W. Hood, Barbara Keller, Christopher F. Silver, Rosina-Martha Csoeff, and James T. Richardson, Deconversion: Qualitative and Quantitative Results from Cross-Cultural Research in Germany and the United States of America (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009), 21–22. To understand some of the reasons why people leave religions, see: Simon Cottee, Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam (London: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd, 2015), 31–63; Hari Parekh and Vincent Egan, “Apostates as a Hidden Population of Abuse Victims,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence (2020): 13–14, accessed 18 January 2021; and Phil Zuckerman, Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion (New York: Oxford University Press 2011), 151–169. For greater insights into what it is like to leave high-cost or strict religions, see: Lynn Davidman, Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 141–150.


For a comprehensive discussion of what it is like to change religions, see: Darren E. Sherkat, Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans’ Shifting Religious Identities (New York: NYU Press, 2014), 50–89. Two reports published by institutes based on large surveys described the rise of the nonreligious in the United States: Barry A. Kosmin, Ariela Keysar, Ryan Cragun, and Juhem Navarro-Rivera, “American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population, A Report Based on the American Religious Identification Survey 2008” (Hartford, CT, 2009); Pew Research Center, “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace: An Update on America’s Changing Religious Landscape” (Washington DC, 2019), accessed 18 January 2021, Some research has now begun to look at variation among the nonreligious: Luke William Galen and James D. Kloet, “Mental well-being in the religious and the non-religious: Evidence for a curvilinear relationship,” Mental Health, Religion & Culture 14, no. 7 (2011): 685–687.


Though see the following publications for research that does have a focus on gender in the exiting process: Inger Furseth, “Atheism, Secularity, and Gender,” in Atheism and Secularity. Issues, Concepts, and Definitions, ed. Phil Zuckerman (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Perspectives, 2010), 209–211; Janet L. Jacobs, “The Economy of Love in Religious Commitment: The Deconversion of Women from Nontraditional Religious Movements,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 23, no. 2 (1984), 159–166; Janet L. Jacobs, Divine Disenchantment: Deconversion from New Religious Movements (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), 23–46.


West, Candace, and Don H. Zimmerman, “Doing Gender,” Gender & Society 1, no. 2 (1 June 1987): 137.


For a discussion of how the experiences of religion vary by gender, see: Orit Avishai, Afshan Jafar, and Rachel Rinaldo, “A Gender Lens on Religion,” Gender & Society 29, no. 1 (2015): 13–16. For a discussion of how gender is related to leaving conservative religion, see: Caroline L. Faulkner, “Gendered Motivations for Religious Exit among the Former Amish,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 14 (2018): 22–24.


Stuart Wright called for more research into how religious exiting varied by gender. See: Stuart A. Wright, “Reconceptualizing Cult Coercion and Withdrawal: A Comparative Analysis of Divorce and Apostasy,” Social Forces 70: no 1 (1991): 142.


For a discussion of how women are oppressed within religions, see: J. E. Sumerau and Ryan T. Cragun, “The Hallmarks of Righteous Women: Gendered Background Expectations in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” Sociology of Religion 76, no. 1 (2015): 66–68. For a discussion of gender power dynamics in conservative religions, see: John P. Bartkowski and Jen’nan Ghazal Read, “Veiled Submission: Gender, Power, and Identity Among Evangelical and Muslim Women in the United States,” Qualitative Sociology 26, no. 1 (2003): 86–90.


For a discussion of why women wear the hijab, see: Daniel Winchester, “Embodying the Faith: Religious Practice and the Making of a Muslim Moral Habitus,” Social Forces 86, no. 4 (2008): 1773–1774. For a discussion of how feminists reconceptualize religion, see: Kristin Aune, “Feminist Spirituality as Lived Religion,” Gender & Society 29, no. 1 (2015): 139–142. For a discussion of how god imagery influences support for women in the workplace, see: Sarah Shah, John P. Bartkowski, and Xiaohe Xu. "Gendered God Imagery and Attitudes Toward Mothers’ Labor Force Participation: Examining the Transposable Character of Religious Schemas,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 55, no. 3 (2016): 553–555.


For a discussion of patriarchy among the nonreligious, see: Ashley F. Miller, “The Non-Religious Patriarchy: Why Losing Religion HAS NOT Meant Losing White Male Dominance,” CrossCurrents 63, no. 2 (2013): 213–221. For a discussion of risk tolerance as it relates to differences in religiosity by gender, see: Penny Edgell, Jacqui Frost, and Evan Stewart, "From existential to social understandings of risk: Examining gender differences in nonreligion." Social Currents 4, no. 6 (2017): 567–570.


See Davidman 2014, Faulkner 2018, and Jacobs 1984 as notable exceptions.


Two important cross-cultural studies of differences in religiosity by gender are: David Voas, Siobhan McAndrew, and Ingrid Storm, “Modernization and the Gender Gap in Religiosity: Evidence from Cross-National European Surveys,” KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift Für Soziologie Und Sozialpsychologie 65, no 1 (2013), 278–281,; and Pew Forum on Religion, The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World (Washington, D.C: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2016), accessed on 18 January 2021:


The language of “high cost” comes from several bodies of literature, but particularly economists who study religion. See, for instance: Laurence R. Iannaccone, “Voodoo Economics? Reviewing the Rational Choice Approach to Religion,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 34, no. 1 (1995): 76–88. For an application of this language to Mormonism, see: Michael McBride, “Club Mormon: Free-Riders, Monitoring, and Exclusion in the LDS Church,” Rationality and Society 19, no. 4 (2007): 395–424.


This idea is clearly laid out by: John P. Bartkowski, Remaking the Godly Marriage: Gender Negotiation in Evangelical Families (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 39–53.


For a detailed discussion of gender in the LDS Church, see: Laura Vance, Women in New Religions (New York, NY: NYU Press, 2015), 19–48.


Sumerau and Cragun, “The Hallmarks of Righteous Women,” 53.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 1995,


Reid J. Leamaster and Mangala Subramaniam, “Career and/or Motherhood? Gender and the LDS Church,” Sociological Perspectives 59, no. 4 (2016): 786; Sumerau and Cragun, “The Hallmarks of Righteous Women,” 58.


Nancy Ross and Jessica Finnigan, “Mormon Feminist Perspectives on the Mormon Digital Awakening: A Study of Identity and Personal Narratives,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 47, no. 4 (2014): 60–65; Leamaster and Subramaniam, “Career and/or Motherhood?” 792–793.


See Vance, Women in New Religions, 25–32.


Wright, “Reconceptualizing Cult Coercion and Withdrawal,” 140–142. For additional discussion about the difficulties of leaving high-cost or strict religions, see: Stuart A. Wright, “Disengagement and Apostasy in New Religious Movements,” in Oxford Handbook on Religious Conversion, eds. Lewis Rambo and Charles Farkadian (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 720–73; and Stuart A. Wright and Helen R. Ebaugh, “Leaving New Religions,” in Handbook of Cults and Sects in America, eds. David G. Bromley and Jeffrey K. Hadden (Greenwich: JAI Press, 1993), 117–138.


Nicholas Samuel Hookway and Daphne Habibis, “‘Losing my religion’: Managing identity in a post-Jehovah’s Witness world,” Journal of Sociology 51, no. 4 (2015): 849.


Our findings are similar to those in: Janet L. Jacobs, “The Economy of Love in Religious Commitment: The Deconversion of Women from Nontraditional Religious Movements,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 23, no. 2 (1984): 159–166.


Dennis D. Waskul and Phillip Vannini, “Introduction: The body in Symbolic Interaction,” in Body/Embodiment: Symbolic Interaction and the Sociology of the Body, eds. Dennis D. Waskul and Phillip Vannini (New York: Ashgate Publishing, 2006), 15–32.


Rebecca J. Erickson, “The Importance of Authenticity for Self and Society,” Symbolic Interaction 18, no. 2 (1995): 131–132.


Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 1991), 78.


Dennis D. Waskul, “The Importance of Insincerity and Inauthenticity for Self and Society: Why Honesty is Not the Best Policy,” in Authenticity in Culture, Self, and Society, eds. Phillip Vannini and J. Patrick Williams (New York: Routledge, 2009), 61.


Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: a Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (Garden City, NJ: Anchor Books, 1967), 47.


Kenneth J. Gergen, The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1991), 48–54.


Arthur W. Frank, Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-Narratology (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 20–30.


Brian Boyd, On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2009), 132–158.


Likewise, all interviewees have been assigned pseudonyms.


See Table 1 for descriptions of interviewees.


Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler, “Of Rhetoric and Representation: The Four Faces of Ethnography,” The Sociological Quarterly 49, no. 1 (2008): 7.


The following publications guided the authors as they conducted the interviews: Steinar Kvale, InterViews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1996), 220–235; John Lofland, David Snow, Leon Anderson, and Lyn H. Lofland, Analyzing Social Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation and Analysis (4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2006), 189–210.


The following publications detail that most people who leave religions are indifferent to religion, not opposed to it: Steve Bruce, Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 193; Johannes Quack and Cora Schuh, Religious Indifference: New Perspectives From Studies on Secularization and Nonreligion (New York, NY: Springer, 2017), 1–24.


The following references note that many people who leave the LDS Church do not switch to other religions and most of them are indifferent to religion: Rick Phillips, “Rethinking the International Expansion of Mormonism,” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 10, no. 1 (2006): 53–54; Jana Riess, The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019), 211–225.


While we did not set out to conduct a formal grounded theory study, much about our approach to the data is consistent with this method.


Charmaz, Constructing Grounded Theory, 138–146.


Helen Rose Ebaugh, Becoming an Ex: The Process of Role Exit (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 43–48.


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, no. 25 (1995): 102.


Other research supports the idea that women struggle with these issues in the LDS Church: Chiung Hwang Chen, “Diverse Yet Hegemonic: Expressions of Motherhood in ‘I’m a Mormon’ Ads,” Journal of Media and Religion 13, no. 1 (2014): 44–45. For a longer treatment of the concept of a Mormon Mother in Heaven, see: Linda P. Wilcox, “The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven,” in Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective, eds. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Lavina Fielding Anderson (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 65–77.


Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1997), 1–15, 25–30.


In the LDS Church, there are two types of buildings: regular churches, which anyone can enter, and temples, entrance to which is restricted to only members in good standing who have met certain requirements. Inside temples, members of the religion participate in a number of rituals. These rituals are gendered to the extent that men and women sit separated and make different promises. These rituals are discussed in some detail in Vance, Women in New Religions, 43–45.


Brent D. Beal, Heather K. Olsen Beal, Jennifer Beu, Eric Canen, Caitlin Carroll, Ryan T. Cragun, John Dehlin, et al., “The Mormon Gender Issues Survey: Research Summary,” (The Mormon Gender Issues Survey Group), accessed 9 December 2015,


Miller, “The non-religious patriarchy,” 213–221.


In Latter-day Saint theology, the plan of salvation refers to a group of beliefs related to the meaning and purpose of mortal life, including that God the Father was once a human man, that all humankind lived with Him before their mortal life, that Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection were necessary to fulfill this plan, that resurrection to a “glorified physical body” is a prerequisite to becoming like God, and that mortal life is necessary to develop “godly attributes.” See: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Plan of Salvation Overview,” in New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2002), 13–16.


Jerome S. Bruner, Making Stories: Law, Literature, Life (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 12–25.


The following articles detail how stories help challenge authority: Patricia Ewick and Susan S. Silbey, “Subversive stories and hegemonic tales: Toward a sociology of narrative,” Law and Society Review 29, no. 2 (1995): 211–222; Phillip Vannini and Alexis Franzese, “The Authenticity of Self: Conceptualization, Personal Experience, and Practice,” Sociology compass 2, no. 5 (2008): 1622–1623.


Keith A. Roberts and David A. Yamane, Religion in Sociological Perspective (6th ed., London: Sage, 2016), 170–175.


Lori Peek, “Becoming Muslim: The development of a religious identity,” Sociology of Religion 66, no. 3 (2005): 236–237.


Erickson, “The Importance of Authenticity for Self and Society,” 131–132.


Ebaugh, Becoming an Ex: The Process of Role Exit, 87–89.


Kevin Healey, “The Pastor in the Basement: Discourses of Authenticity in the Networked Public Sphere,” Symbolic Interaction 33, no. 4 (2010): 544–546.


Jodi O’Brien, “Wrestling the Angel of Contradiction: Queer Christian Identities,” Culture and Religion 5, no. 2 (2004): 194–198.


O’Brien, “Wrestling the Angel of Contradiction,” 194–198.


Riess, The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church, 158.


Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity, 181–190.


For illustrations of how gender is integrated into religion, see: Rosemary Skinner Keller, Ann Braude, Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, “Female experience in American religion,” Religion and American Culture 5, no. 1 (1995): 17; J. E. Sumerau, Ryan T. Cragun, and Lain A. B. Mathers, “Contemporary Religion and the Cisgendering of Reality,” Social Currents 3, no. 3 (2016): 307.


Ryan T. Cragun, “50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists. Edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk,” International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, book review, 21, no. 2 (2011): 159–61.


The ongoing concerns about gender inequality and sexism in the secular movement in the United States is addressed in: Amarnath Amarasingam and Melanie Elyse Brewster, “The Rise and Fall of the New Atheism: Identity Politics and Tensions within U.S. Nonbelievers,” Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion, 7 (2016): 123–124. Also, Miller discusses these issues at length in “The Non-Religious Patriarchy,” 214.


Howard M. Bahr and Stan L. Albrecht, “Strangers Once More: Patterns of Disaffiliation from Mormonism,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 28, no. 2 (1989): 180.


David G. Bromley, “Unraveling Religious Disaffiliation: The Meaning and Significance of Falling From the Faith in Contemporary Society,” Counseling and Values 35, no. 3 (1991): 180.


Ralph H. Turner, “The Real Self: From Institution to Impulse,” American Journal of Sociology 81, no. 5 (1976): 1014.


Bahr and Albrecht, “Strangers Once More,” 180.


For similar findings, see: Matthew T. Loveland, “Religious Switching: Preference Development, Maintenance, and Change,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 42, no. 1 (2003): 155–156; Sharon Sandomirsky and John Wilson, “Processes of Disaffiliation: Religious Mobility Among Men and Women,” Social Forces 68, no. 4 (1990): 1226–1227.


David Golding, “Mormonism,” in World Religions and Their Missions, ed. Aaron J. Ghiloni (New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2015), 215–62.


Cottee, Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam; Davidman, Becoming Un-Orthodox.


Vern L. Bengston, R. David Hayward, Phil Zuckerman, and Merril Silverstein, “Bringing Up Nones: Intergenerational Influences and Cohort Trends,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 57, no. 2 (2018): 270; John Stinespring and Ryan Cragun, “Simple Markov Model for Estimating the Growth of Nonreligion in the United States,” Science, Religion & Culture 2, no. 3 (2015): 100; Joel Thiessen and Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, “Becoming a Religious None: Irreligious Socialization and Disaffiliation,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 56, no. 1 (2017): 79.