With a million new members across the globe every three years -- it has 7 million in the U. and 14 million worldwide -- the church is one of the fastest-growing religions in the country.It sends tens of thousands of missionaries throughout the world annually, and its faithful are blossoming in South America and Africa.But despite these triumphs, a key part of the religion has struggled in the U. In a faith that's centered almost exclusively around marriage and children, where the highest level of heaven is reserved for the married and where singledom carries not just a social but a spiritual stigma, people like Rinehart are becoming increasingly common.
Lds dating guidelines
Mormons still marry younger than most Americans, but most now marry in their early to mid-20s and singles in their 30s and 40s are quickly on the rise -- once unheard of. For the first time in history, married couples now amount to less than half of American households.
Singledom isn't just something growing among Mormons. Nationally, women marry at age 26.1 on average, while men marry at 28.2.
About half of American adults, or 100 million, are single, according to the 2010 U. The rates have gone up by one year for men and two years for women since 2000, and have continually increased since the 1960s."There's a higher rate of people wanting higher education, and people are becoming more and more concerned about having a good life.
This article is a part of Faith Shift, a Huffington Post series on how changes in demographics, culture, politics and theology are transforming religion in America. They came in their best cars, littering an overcapacity parking lot with double-parked BMWs and Corvettes, and strutted into a bright and airy building in crisp suits and colorful dresses. "Typical," Rinehart muttered to himself as he walked away before running into an ex-girlfriend who had saved him a chair.
MIDVALE, Utah -- In this sleepy suburb just south of Salt Lake City, hundreds of men and women recently descended upon one of the hottest, most competitive and nerve-wracking social scenes in the state.
Steve Rinehart worked the room, which had the look of a large, converted high school basketball court with rows of folding chairs. As they do each Sunday, Mormons from all over the Salt Lake Valley had flocked to the Union Fort 9th Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a large congregation of 800 members that has swelled in recent years.
He circled the aisles, scoping out the women and peering over shoulders for friends."It's a meat market," Rinehart, 36, said with a sigh before giving it a shot. The chapel is one of a unique but quickly growing breed in the faith that's made up exclusively of the unmarried.
He approached a slim woman in her early 30s who was seated alone. Each person is between 31 and 45, women outnumber men, and everyone but the bishop is single.
Scripture in hand, the members squeezed between the chairs and into pews to make room for those standing in the back.
They praised the Lord and asked Him to fulfill one of the prime and most elusive commandments: a spouse to marry for eternity and, with that union, a required step in the Mormon journey toward God-like exaltation, the ultimate goal in this life and the one hereafter.
The Latter-day Saints church is by many measures one of unparalleled modern success.