The subject of education that does not pay financially is a sensitive one for me. Thankfully, my graduate training equipped me with enough marketable skills that I’m fine, but I’m close enough to people in other fields (sometimes adjacent to mine) that I’ve seen it not work out, and it can get very ugly.
Somebody puts in years of their life, and sometimes takes out student loans, to only at the end find out that 1) the chance of you getting that R1 tenure track position for some fields is literally similar to your chance of making it in the NFL, and 2) hardly anybody outside of that field actually cares about all the skills picked up in graduate training (which aren’t as vaguely transferable as is often supposed by both faculty and students), so you need to somehow find a way to support your family on entry-level wages, sometimes while trying to pay off student debt.
Admittedly, my perception of graduate training payoffs is anecdotal, but for undergraduates there is enough data to show that some majors really don’t pay for themselves, or at the very most give you a slightly marginal “generic college” salary benefit that is far from enough to live off of. (Tragically, some of these same fields intentionally try to recruit BIPOC students, seemingly unaware or not caring that they are perpetuating intergenerational inequality by doing so, but I digress).
As can be seen in Census data, religious studies is particularly low in terms of payoff; one year out with a religious studies degree and you’re looking at Wal-Mart level wages. On one hand, bright young Latter-day Saint women or men might aspire to be religious scholars, on the other hand they run up against a strong religious imperative to have and be able to provide for a family (obviously things are socioculturally distinct for women in terms of “provide for the family” expectations in Latter-day Saint culture, but I believe they experience a similar dynamic here).
While in the past you could make provide-for-a-family wages with a non-marketable degree, we’re just not there anymore, which is why I now have a “just say no” attitude for members thinking about getting an advanced degree in religious studies at the beginning of their career (unless you’re already a skilled welder or coder, then do whatever you want). Yes, your professors might sing your praises and you might win all those awards, but at the end of the day you’re facing NFL draft level odds, and if you take your religious imperative to be able to provide for a family (or yourself, given the numbers involved) seriously it’s hard to justify playing those kinds of odds.