This study examines religious acculturation and spirituality in committed Latter-day Saint (LDS) converts living in Utah. We conducted a qualitative analysis using interviews from a sample of 20 North American and 20 International Latter-day Saint converts attending or working at Brigham Young University (BYU)—a western LDS private university—of varying age, time since baptism, and country of origin. Of the 40 converts, 39 were classified as committed in their LDS religious affiliation using Henri Gooren’s (2007) Conversion Career Model. Based on our analysis of the interviews, several pertinent themes emerged: converts (1) recognize and choose to acculturate; (2) report positive changes in identity; (3) report that changes in identity are linked to a relationship with God; (4) rely on spiritual emotions to acculturate; (5) differ in their “fit” with the LDS religious culture; and (6) demonstrate a somewhat predictable psychological pattern in how they navigate their new religious culture involving initial idealization, then potential devaluation, and then integration of prior idealization and devaluation. Both a psychosocial and a spiritual process emerged, and in both cases, acculturation occurred in a relational context—one with the members of the LDS church and one with God. Although, most converts struggle to find their way in their new religious culture, their reported relationship with God and their associated spiritual feelings are described as a type of protective factor that help converts with the psychosocial challenges of the acculturation process.
Hansen, Kristin L.; Page, Laurie; Fischer, Lane; and Williams, Marleen
"Religious Acculturation and Spirituality in Latter-Day Saint Committed Converts,"
Issues in Religion and Psychotherapy: Vol. 35
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/irp/vol35/iss1/4