Harvard, Statistics, and Sex

In recent years, the Harvard Crimson has conducted an extensive survey of the incoming freshman class (roughly 2,000 individuals per year).

Some things have continued the same. Most use Apple products (75%). Most have never had mental health counseling (79%). Most are heterosexual (82%). Most are virgins (62%) and less than 10% have had more than two sexual partners. Most are the first in their extended family to ever attend Harvard (71%). Most identify as liberal (69%). The vast majority identify with their gender of birth (99.6%). The number of Mormons in any of the incoming classes is less than 1%. 1

Other factors are moving in interesting ways, however.

Whites are close to trading in “majority” status for “plurality” status. The Harvard Class of 2021 is only 52% White versus an estimated 61% non-hispanic whites in the general US population. This is largely due to the increasing representation of Asians (Asian Indians and other Asians), which has hovered around 30% 2 in contrast to the 5.7% of Asians in the general US population. Given that Asians self-report as White to avoid attempts to minimize the over-representation of Asians at elite universities, Whites in the Class of 2021 may already be plurality rather than majority.

The percentage of those reporting other than hetero-normal sexual orientation is increasing (looking at 2017 to 2021). While the combination of “questioning” and “other” has stayed level at  about 4%, those reporting as homosexual have increased from 3.7% to 5.6%, an increase of 50%. 3 Meanwhile, those identifying as bisexual has increased from 2.5% to 7.8%, an increase of over 200%. 4 This correlates with the vast majority (87%) entering Harvard in 2018 who approve of same sex marriage.

It would be fascinating if BYU’s Daily Universe were to conduct a parallel survey.

Continue reading


  1. Of the Mormons participating in the surveys across all the years, it seems only one reported they weren’t a virgin as an incoming freshman.
  2. 2021 class statistics don’t report any South Asian/Indian students, where prior years reported ~4% of the incoming student body from India.
  3. Most self-reporting as homosexual are male.
  4. Most self-reporting as bi-sexual are female.

LDS Perspectives #52: The (Im)patient Job

The (Im)patient Job
with Michael Austin

Michael Austin overturns our Sunday School understanding of Job.

Job didn’t constantly praise God in the midst of his trials, and he certainly wasn’t always patient.

The satan mentioned in the story is not Lucifer but someone else entirely.

We may think it is evil to be impatient in the midst of trials. Yet when we consider with Austin the full text of Job, we find Job is much more than the often one-dimensional figure we make him out to be. And in learning that, we learn so many gospel truths that we otherwise miss.

Listen as Sarah Hatch of LDS Perspectives Podcast interviews Michael Austin about wisdom literature, a more complete understanding of the nature of Job and his relationship with God, and what we can learn from arguably the greatest ancient poem ever written.

Book Review: Perspectives on Mormon Theology – Apologetics

Book Review: Perspectives on Mormon Theology – Apologetics, edited by Blair G. Van Dyke and Loyd Isao Ericson, Greg Kofford Books

I am an apologist. Ever since joining the LDS Church at the age of 16, I’ve spent countless hours explaining, sharing and defending the gospel of Jesus Christ. After my mission, I used to weekly go to the Salt Lake Temple, where I would spend an hour talking gospel with the anti-Mormon protester that handed out pamphlets outside the Temple Square walls. Nibley’s works were amazing to me. I was a list member on William Hamblin’s Ant-Mormon email list 25 years ago. I am a former member of FAIRMormon, written articles for the More Good Foundation, spent many hours on LDS.Net, have several articles on my own webpage, gave a lecture on the Book off Mormon as an Ascension Text at Sunstone Kirtland, blogged on the Gospel Doctrine lessons at my own blog, and a permablogger here at Millennial Star.

That said, I went into this discussion on apologetics with an open mind, eager to see what several LDS scholars thought. The book is a series of essays on apologetics:

  • Critical Foundations of Mormon Apologetics – Blair G. Van Dyke
  • A Brief Defense of Apologetics – Daniel C. Peterson
  • Boundary Maintenance that Pushes the Boundaries: Scriptural and Theological Insights from Apologetics – Neal Rappleye
  • I Think, Therefore I Defend – Michael R. Ash
  • A Wall Between Church and Academy – Benjamin E. Park
  • Mormon Apologetics and Mormon Studies: Truth, History, and Love – Ralph C. Hancock
  • The Intellectual Cultures of Mormonism: Faith, Reason and the Apologetic Enterprise – Brian D. Birch
  • The Role of Women in Apologetics – Juliann Reynolds
  • Avoiding Collateral Damage: Creating a Woman-Friendly Mormon Apologetics – Julie M. Smith
  • “The Perfect Union of Man and Woman”: Reclamation and Collaboration in Joseph Smith’s Theology Making – Fiona Givens
  • Lamanites, Apologetics and Tensions in Mormon Anthropology – David Knowlton
  • Conceptually Confusion and the Building of Stumbling Blocks of Faith – Loyd Isao Ericson
  • Shifting Intellectual and Religious Paradigms: One Apologist’s Journey into Critical Study – David Bokovoy
  • Toward a New Vision of Apologetics – Joseph M. Spencer
  • Apologetics as Theological Praxis – Seth Payne

The articles discuss several important topics in regards to apologetics and LDS scholarship. The discussions focus primarily on the importance of apologetics, its pros and cons, and whether we should be doing apologetics. The articles include the issues of women in apologetics, whether we should instead focus on Mormon scholarly studies, the differences between good and bad apologetics, boundary maintenance, and where we should go in the future. Continue reading

Rage and Forgiveness

Carl Bloch's
I believe in an omniscient God.

Therefore, I have often been amused at the assertion that forgiveness means that God will blot the “forgiven” portion of human history from His memory.

It is true that D&C 58:42 states “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” But does this mean God literally can’t remember the sins, or is it just that He doesn’t call the forsaken sin to remembrance, that He doesn’t constantly berate us for a thing we have put in our past?

By way of illustration, I have changed numerous dirty diapers. Some individuals whose diapers I changed as infants are now adults. I have not literally forgotten the soiled diapers, but it is not something I bring up in casual conversation (except when I am making this point). While I don’t bring the soiled diapers up to remembrance, it isn’t as though I might conclude that my children somehow never had soiled diapers.

Looking at the Wikipedia article on forgiveness, we see this definition:

“Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), pardoning (granted for an acknowledged offense by a representative of society, such as a judge), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).”

As a thought experiment, let us consider a case where a person has sexually abused a child. It is indeed part of the healing process for the violated child and their parent(s) to eventually let go of vengefulness, lest the rage continue to damage the violated child and that child’s family. Yet it would be completely inappropriate for the abuser to be absolved of responsibility and allowed to repeat their actions, whether against the original victim or against a new victim.

If you think I am simply stating the obvious, that’s great.

If you think that the requirement to forgive literally means we must absolve abusers and allow them free rein to continue their abuse, then let’s continue this discussion in the comments.

LDS Perspectives #51: Joseph Smith’s Education in Sephardic Hebrew

Joseph’s Study of Hebrew and the Book of Abraham with Matthew J. Grey

In the winter of 1836, 100 church members enrolled in a seven-week, intensive Hebrew language course. Matthew Grey sees this study of Hebrew as a direct outgrowth of the larger translation project that Joseph had begun in the summer of 1835.

In July 1835, Joseph had purchased Egyptian scrolls and mummies from Michael Chandler. Shortly thereafter he translated what became known as Abraham 1 and Abraham 2 and began working on a “Grammer and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language” (GAEL). In the fall of 1835, Joseph started looking for a teacher of Hebrew for the Kirtland School. By January, the school committee had hired Joshua Seixas as a Hebrew teacher.

Joshua Seixas used his native Sephardic Hebrew in his transliterations, which varied substantially from the more common Ashkenazi Hebrew spellings. Because of the distinctive Hebrew transliterations in Seixas’s texts, we can trace Joseph’s use of his Hebrew training in succeeding years.

Traces of Sephardic Hebrew can be seen in revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Abraham, and recorded Nauvoo speeches. Joseph’s insights into Hebrew form a foundation for Nauvoo teachings regarding the nature of God, expansions on the plan of salvation, and verbiage in the temple ritual.

Laura Harris Hales talks with with Matthew Grey on the influence Joseph’s Hebrew study had on Joseph’s subsequent teachings and the role Sephardic Hebrew plays in unraveling the puzzle of the Book of Abraham translation puzzle.