Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were pleased about the results of a landmark study of the religiosity of the nation’s youth, called the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR). Conducted from 2003 to 2005 by Christian Smith and others, the study was first reported in Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, published by Oxford University Press in 2005. (To read the book review of Soul Searching, see BYU Studies 45, no. 2 : 167–172.)
The current book, Almost Christian, by Linda Creasy Dean, is a follow-up from the same study. Though Dean draws from the NSYR, her book is quite different from Soul Searching. As a youth minister, she takes on the task to “wrestle to the ground some of the findings relevant for Christian churches and pin down some hope for ministry with young people.” As in the earlier book, Mormon youth stand out. Dean acknowledges that LDS youth score the highest on almost all measures of religiosity. But Dean’s message is that if the Mormons can inculcate religion in their youth, so can other churches—mainline Protestants, Catholics, and the youth ministers who are the target audience of this book.