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The LDS Church claims that it has 12 million active members. The LDS Church counts members until they are 110 years old. Members who are excommunicated or have their membership removed are still counted among the membership of the Church. Inactive members and those who have moved on to other Churches are also still counted among the membership.
In all reality, Mormon membership is somewhere between 2 and 4 million, the first 2 million being Temple Worthy Tithing paying members. There are currently over 1 million members who have resigned yet are still counted as active.
This topic is here to represent the conflicting numbers offered to the public by the LDS Church on membership numbers.
| The claim that Mormonism is the fastest-growing faith in the world has been repeated so routinely by sociologists, anthropologists, journalists and proud Latter-day Saints as to be perceived as unassailable fact.
The trouble is, it isn't true.
Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than 12 million members on its rolls, more than doubling its numbers in the past quarter-century. But since 1990, other faiths - Seventh-day Adventists, Assemblies of God and Pentecostal groups - have grown much faster and in more places around the globe.
And most telling, the number of Latter-day Saints who are considered active churchgoers is only about a third of the total, or 4 million in the pews every Sunday, researchers say.
| If you think the SL Tribune articles on pathetic Mormon Church growth were good, then you should check out this church statistics page: |
Here are some interesting facts cited from the page:
Twice as many missionaries, half the converts
"The average missionary in 1989 brought 8 people into the church, while in 2000 the average missionary brought 4.6 people into the church. When one accounts for actual activity and retention rates, with the great majority of LDS convert growth occurring in Latin America and other areas with low retention, and only 20-25% of convert growth occurring in North America, one finds that of the 4.6 persons baptized by the average missionary each year, approximately 1.3 will remain active. This declining growth comes in spite of unprecedented increase in opportunity. From 1990 to 2000, the LDS Church opened an additional59 nations to proselyting."
"241,239 LDS convert baptisms were reported for 2004, the lowest number of converts since 1987. Other recent years have also demonstrated decelerating church growth. Over the past decade, LDS missionaries have been challenged to double the number of baptisms, but instead the number of baptisms per missionary has halved."
Church growth down to 3% per year
"The LDS Church is one of the few Christian groups with a large missionary program to experience declining growth rates in spite of widening opportunities. An analysis of annual LDS statistical reports published in the May Ensigns of each year demonstrates that LDS growth has declined progressively from over 5% annually in the late 1980s to less than 3% annually from 2000 to 2004."
Pathetic Mormon presense in Europe
"There are over 570,000 active Seventh-day Adventists in Kenya alone, but less than 570,000 Latter-day Saints (of which less than 200,000 are active) in all of continental Europe, Asia, and Africa combined. After more than fifteen years of proselyting in Russia with the largest full-time missionary force of any denomination, LDS membership has risen to only 17,000, with a fraction of those members remaining active. The same period has seen the number of active Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia rise to over 140,000, with some 300,000 individuals attending conferences. There are more active Jehovah's Witnesses in the countries of Georgia or Armenia than active Latter-day Saints in all of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russia together. There are fewer than 100,000 active Latter-day Saints in all of Europe, including the United Kingdom."
Based on growth, Jehovah's Witnesses is more true church than Mormon Church
"Given that the Mormons are generally viewed as the world's most successful new religion and had about an 80-year start on the Witnesses, this is an astonishing achievement.” It is even more astonishingwhen we consider that, since Jehovah's Witness participation significantly surpasses raw membership alone while LDS participation is only a fraction of raw membership, the number of active and participating Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide far surpasses the number of active and participating Latter-day Saints. In 1935, there were 56,000 Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide and 746,384 Latter-day Saints. Since 1935, the number of active Jehovah's Witnesses has multiplied their numbers by a factor of more than a hundredfold, while LDS membership has multiplied by a factor of twenty, with only a fraction of that number representing active members."
Christian churches growing much faster than Mormon Church
"The Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in 1849 and recently overtook the LDS Church with 13 million members. Seventh-day Adventists were adding an average of 3,176 new members each day in 2000,15 and have experienced increased growth since that time, adding between 900,000 and1.2 million members each year. In 2004, the LDS Church added an average of 661 converts and 270 children of record each day, from which only a minority go on to experience meaningful church activity. The Assemblies of God are growing at approximately 10% per year, or over three times the growth rate of the LDS Church, while the Seventh-day Adventists report growth two to three times LDS rates at 5.6-8% per year."
Only Four Million Active Mormons Worldwide
"While the Church makes no claims about member activity rates and no official reports of LDS activity rates are published, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism notes: "Attendance at sacrament meeting varies substantially. Canada, the South Pacific, and the United States average between 40 percent and 50 percent. Europe and Africa average about 35 percent. Asia and Latin America have weekly attendance rates of about 25 percent." While various idiosyncratic definitions of activity exist, the definition of members attending church weekly is the simplest and most meaningful. However, rates calculated by dividing church attendance by total membership may over-represent actual activity if nonmember visitors, small children, and other attendees are counted regardless of membership status. By multiplying the number of members in each area by the fractional activity and summating the data, one comes up with a worldwide LDS activity rate of approximately 35%, or approximately 4 million members. This is very similar to estimates published by the Associate Press in April 2003: 'While the church doesn't release statistics on church activity rates, some research suggests participation in the church is as low as 30 percent.' For comparison, Adventist News Network reported in 2001 that worldwide Seventh-day Adventist member retention rates had fallen from 81% in previous years to a still very impressive 78% at present."
Mormonism not sustaining growth from within
"Only about four million of the 11.3 millionLDS members worldwide are active, and therefore likely to raise their children in the Church. Fractional annual proportional increases in LDS children of record relative to growth rates of healthy populations around the world correlate closely with low activity rates, suggesting that a large majority of inactive members raise their children outside of the church. Second, birth rates have declined substantially among the lifetime North American LDS members that have traditionally constituted the core membership of the LDS faith. Active LDS in the US average about three children per family, which represents a large decline from twenty years ago. A fertility rate of 2.1 children per couple is required for population replacement. With only 22% of Latter-day Saints born to active families in the U.S. remaining active lifelong and another 44% returning to the Church after periods of inactivity, the natural growth of Latter-day Saints in the U.S. appears to be below the level required even to sustain a stable population."
Lower levels of Temple Marriages
"The Encyclopedia of Mormonism notes: "The percentage of adults in a temple marriage varies from about 45 percent in Utah to less than 2 percent in Mexico and Central America... For all of South America, with 2.25 million members, less than 1.8% of the total adult membership has been married in the temple." This is a significant finding, since approximately 35% of all LDS members live in Latin America. Sociologist Tim Heaton notes that "Mexico saints have fewer children than the national average." Difficulty in generating new LDS families through temple marriages has been a chronic problem for the church, especially outside of North America, where many young people marry outside of the Church or remain unmarried."
Decline in new church units not because of unit size changes
"In 2002, LDS unit growth fell further to 0.22%, less than one-seventh of the annual rate of world population growth. Those who insist that the low number of new LDS units being formed is a result of policy changes influencing unit size are uninformed: the average number of LDS members per unit has remained relatively stable, going from 439 per unit in 1973 to 431.7 in 1991 and 437 in 2001."
Hinckley lied about the numbers
"In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated: “We are experiencing a combined growth of converts and natural increase of some 400,000 a year. Every single year that is the equivalent of 160 new stakes of 2,500 people each.” This statement has been widely quoted as evidence of the Church’s rapid growth. In fact, the Church has never yet experienced a net gain of 400,000 members in a single year, nor has there ever been a year in the history of the Church when 160 or more stakes were formed. The highest stake gains ever were of 142 in 1995 and 146 in 1996, which were up from annual gains of 32-78 over the preceding decade. Over the most recent five-year period forwhich data are available (1998-2003), the Church gained a total of 119 stakes, or an average of only 24 stakes per year. The low number of congregations and stakes being formed reflects fractional retention of converts."
LDS Congregational Growth in Perspective
"In comparison to the 26,670 congregations serving the 12.256 million nominal LDS members, the Seventh-day Adventist Church had 12.894 million baptized adult members in 117,020 Sabbath Schools (congregations) meeting in 53,502 churches, while the Jehovah's Witnesses with 6.5 million members list 96,894 congregations in their August 2004 membership annual report. This is not because LDS congregations are particularly large, but because the great majority of LDS members on the rolls are inactive. While on paper the LDS Church appears to be roughly the same size as the Seventh-day Adventist church in terms of members, and much larger than the Jehovah's Witness organization, in reality, the latter two organizations are both far larger in terms of the total number of committed, active, and contributing members."
How are TBMs reacting to the truth about church growth?
| || The Blame For Lousy Member Retention Rests Squarely On The Shoulders Of One Gordon Bitner Hinckley |
Friday, Aug 19, 2005, at 10:49 AM
Original Author(s): Anonymous
Topic: MORMON MEMBERSHIP -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Oh lurking COB minions of the most high, TAKE NOTES and give them to your leader.
Gordon is the one who decided to start hiding the more controversial and "peculiar" points of mormonism.
Before he was head old guy, he was head PR spin doctor. He thought he was a shrewd cunning man ever so slightly omitting portions of mormon history..
His plan seemed to be working, but then what happened?
While the Hinckster was unraveling his plan to omit and forget mormon history, the technical world was rolling out something else.
But first in 1966, Polygamy Porter(me, not the beer) is born.
Back in 1969 a communications initiative was launched by the US government known as ARPA-NET which was a wired network of military and science communities via computer mainframes and phone lines. Interestingly enough, the University of Utah was one of the first four universities to connect to the beginning of the internet, the three other universities were in California, University of California at Los Angeles, SRI (in Stanford), and University of California at Santa Barbara.
This silly little ARPA-NET continued to grow along with a new operating system known as UNIX, especially among universities.
1974, Polygamy Porter is baptized into the mormon church.
1976, Dr. Robert M. Metcalfe develops Ethernet, which allowed coaxial cable to move data extremely fast. This was a crucial component to the development of LANs.
Also, the Department of Defense began to experiment with the TCP/IP protocol and soon decided to require it for use on ARPANET.
1978, Polygamy Porter is inducted into the mormon priesthood with his ordination to the office of deacon.
1983, TCP/IP became the core Internet protocol. The University of Wisconsin created Domain Name System (DNS). This allowed packets to be directed to a domain name, which would be translated by the server database into the corresponding IP number. This made it much easier for people to access other servers, because they no longer had to remember numbers.
The "domain name" is born.
1985, the National Science Foundation Network(NSFNET)begins roll out of T1 (1.5 Megabit per second) lines for it's backbone.
1987, Polygamy Porter is inducted into the higher mormon priesthood with his ordination to the office of Elder. Shortly afterwards, he takes out his endowments in the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. He is perplexed by many things he sees and witnesses that day.
1990, A faster backbone protocol is launched, T3 which carried 45 Megabits per second.
ARPANET is disbanded and replaced by the NSFNET backbone.
Tim Berners-Lee and CERN in Geneva implements a hypertext system to provide efficient information access to the members of the international high-energy physics community, this was the beginning of the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, the native language of the World Wide Web.
1990 Polygamy Porter marries his hot girlfriend in the mormon temple. While there he realizes the ceremony has changed and things like the sick blood oaths have been completely omitted. He is further perplexed.
1992, Internet Society is chartered.
World-Wide Web released by CERN.
NSFNET backbone upgraded to T3 (45 Megabits per second)
1993, Marc Andreessen and NCSA and the University of Illinois develops a graphical user interface to the WWW, called "Mosaic for X". Marc and other coworker students from NCSA join a new company called Netscape.
1993-1995 Polygamy Porter serves a local stake mission of mostly wasting local ward member's evenings trying to coerce them into the latest version of the "Member Missionary Program" and driving the missionaries to Dairy Queen to get milk shakes.
1995, beta versions of the Netscape browser begin to proliferate. Soon Microsoft will follow with a bastardized version of the original Mosaic browser from NCSA.
1995, Erik Kettunen launches the beginnings of exmormon.org.
1996, the information age explodes. Polygamy Porter moves his family to the Golden state.
September, 21st 1996, Erik Kettunen registers the domain name, EXMORMON.ORG.
Over the next eight years, Polygamy Porter attends the temple for family events, and each time is further perplex at the new ceremony and the changes that occurred in 1990.
Late April 2004, Polygamy Porter uses the Google internet search engine by searching on the phrase "horses+book+of+mormon".
May 2004 - August 2004, Polygamy Porter spends every possible minute researching all of the mormon historical things that Gordon Bitner Hinckley thought that he could omit from my childhood eyes. Temple ceremony changes, not just the 1990 changes but all of them from the beginning. The BoA, JS polygamy, origins of the three degrees of glory, MMM, the real reason JS was killed... etc etc etc etc etc.
August 2004, Polygamy Porter, requests he be released of his mormon church callings and attends his last three hour block of mormon church services.
August 2005, Polygamy Porter posts this message on the now infamous Recovery from Mormonism board on exmormon.org and publicly tells mormon president Gordon Bitner Hinckley that his discernment failed back in the summer of '69... oh yeah, the summer, the summer of 69!
Ya still reading ye minions of the Hinckster?
Hear this fools, there are tens of thousands JUST LIKE ME, with thousands more every week. Not inactive members who never attended after their coerced baptism, NO... BIC, raised in the church, previously devout members who served missions, held callings, followed the prophet's counsel, married in the temple, started fast and young on childbearing, and paid 10% tithing on gross American wages.
Over the past 4 generations, Gordon attempted to slowly change the view in the rearview mirror of mormonism. Did he not realize we would all find the truth about the real mormon history at the worst time? In our adult lives?
What used to take YEARS in terms of researching mormon history can now be done in weeks, thanks to the internet, the great new Nauvoo Expositor.
In closing I would like to dole out some thanks to those who broght me the truth.
Thank you US military, thank you BBN for constructing the ARPANET, thank you Dr. Metcalfe for developing the TCP/IP protocol, thank you NSF, MCI, IBM, et al. for building the high speed data networks we now call the great infobahn, thank you Tim Berners-Lee and CERN for developing the protocol to request, retrieve, and display truth bearing text and pictures, thank you Marc Andreessen and NCSA for developing a the human interface to the WWW, thank you Netscape Corporation for making the internet so prevalent, thank you Erik Kettunen for having the foresight that Hinckley lacked and registering EXMORMON.COM at the cusp of the information explosion in 1996, thank you Google Inc for crawling the net and finding mormon truths, thank you to all of the authors who have published the real mormon history on the internet for search engines to find, catalog, and display.
One last thing....
Fuck you Gordon Bitner Hinckley. FUCK YOU and your church.
| Keeping members in the fold is one of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley's stated top priorities. But does the church have a problem with members slipping away? A church authority says "no," but a prominent Mormon scholar says the evidence suggests otherwise.
"We are improving the retention rate over time," said Merrill Bateman, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Seventy. "We have seen a nice general upward trend in terms of percent of activity, which means retention is going up."
But Bateman was not willing to provide any statistics showing that improvement. He also refused to define who qualifies as an active Mormon, though he says the LDS Church regularly reviews statistics such as attendance at sacrament meetings, tithing payments and the number of people who maintain church requirements to enter temples.
"What we don't want to do is categorize people as active or less active, let's be frank about it," Bateman said. "Because we always believe we have a chance to work with those who are not coming to church on a regular basis."
Armand Mauss, a Washington State University emeritus professor, said that's exactly what the church should focus on.
"The key to the church's future growth will be at least as much a function of retention as conversion," said Mauss, the former president of the Mormon History Association.
While baptisms continue in high numbers, the creation of new stakes, which house a handful of congregations, has slowed down.
"That is a clear indication of a retention problem," said Mauss, who identifies an active Mormon as someone who attends a church meeting at least once each month.
The LDS Church reports that 1,720,434 Mormons resided in Utah in 2004. About 62 percent of those attend church regularly, according to an analysis using statistical statements by Bateman and activity estimates from Brigham Young University professor Tim Heaton, who studies Mormon demographics. That would mean about 43 percent of Utahns are active Mormons.
Activity in many other areas of the world is much lower than that.
Mauss says the worldwide retention problem stems from missionaries attempting to baptize as many people as possible, some of whom are not prepared for the demands of an LDS life. New members are often not provided the support they need during their first year in the faith.
Bateman agrees with Mauss on that point, saying to increase retention, church members must spend more time befriending converts.
"Over time, what President Hinckley has asked us to do is to really surround that person with new friends," Bateman said.
New Mormons are the most likely to leave the faith, according to Bateman, but he says once those people have children who are raised in Mormon families, the retention rates start to rise.
| One of the things that drives me nuts about the Corporation is their lying about damn near everything.
Click here to see their "Newsroom" and the top two articles are prime examples of what I'm talking about.
The first: New film portrays Joseph Smith as "exemplar". A few "lowlights":
First Presidency input, historically accurate script and sets, vivid cinematography, and a spiritually minded cast and crew all played a role in the creation of the new feature film on the Prophet Joseph Smith now playing at the Legacy Theater at Temple Square. The new film, which succeeds The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd and Legacy, also will begin showing at some visitors' centers at Church historical and temple sites in December.
Elder Ronald T. Halverson of the Quorum of the Seventy, an assistant executive director in the Audiovisual Department, said the film's portrayal of the Prophet Joseph's character, difficulties, and accomplishments will encourage viewers to learn "more in-depth of the Prophet so that their testimony is not shallow, but very solid." He feels that everyone who views the film will be affected. "There is a spiritual impact from watching the film. You can't know of the Prophet Joseph and not be changed." (emphasis mine)
Than again, maybe Ron is on to something there. I know I haven't been the same since I've come to "know" Smokin' Joe.
The second: My favorite, lying about membership numbers in Latin America, in this case Mexico.
From the article which appeared in the Miami Herald's Mexico edition:
Thanks to converts like Gabriel and his neighbors in San Juan Guichicovi, Mexico now has the second-largest Mormon population in the world, after the United States. And it continues to grow. In 1990, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS, counted 617,455 members here. Today, it reports a membership of 1,037,775: a 15 year growth of 68 percent. In Mexico City alone, LDS officials say they are adding 1,000 new members each month.
If they add 1,000 members alone in the capital, that means 12K per year. Which should translate into 6-7 new stakes being formed--anyone know how many were actually created last year there?
As for their million members, the census of 2000 showed only slightly more than 200K self-identified as LDS as opposed to the church's claim of 900K at the time. For them to continue to put out the figure of over one million and imply tremendous growth and retention is nothing less than shameful.
As a follow up, I sent a letter to the editors of both El Universal and the Miami Herald pointing out the deceptive accounting practices as explained in the SL Tribune's series on membership earlier this year, putting special emphasis on the 110 year time limit. I said a woman born in 1897, baptized in 1940 and who never ever returned to an LDS church again before her death in 1960 would still be counted among the million members until 2007.
Come to think of it, I'm going to write a suggestion and turn it into my boss. I work for one of the Big 3 in Detroit--if we used "Morg Math" all our current problems would be over. We'd count anyone who ever bought one of our cars as a current customer, even if their last buy was in the Roosevelt Administration. Happy Days are here again!
| Apparently, in the 2000 census, people were asked to identify themselves in Mexico by religion. A book I am reading entitled, "El Fenomeno Religioso en el Occidente de Mexico" has results for the census. 88% of Mexicans consider themselves Catholics. Almost 5% consider themselves Evangelicals. They have a category called "Others" which includes Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. There were over One million people who categorized themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses, about 489,000 that considered themselves Seventh Day Adventists and only 205,000 people that consider themselves Mormons. |
So after decades of missionary work in Mexico and all kinds of bragging about growth rates, the LDS badly trail Evangelicals, Jehovah's Witnesses and Adventists in members. They've hardly made any dent in the Catholic population. So much for the idea that Lamanites are going to blossom like a rose in Mexico.
The future does not look bright for Mormonism.
| The first fact is, we don't have many actual facts. There is a goldmine of data hidden in the bowels of the Great and Spacious COB, but there is NO way that mere mortals can access that data. It is almost certain that "The Brethren" know *exactly* what the situation is, right down to the individual ward/branch level. (I used to be a ward clerk, and we sent very comprehensive reports to SLC every year.)
But, short of a "mole" infiltrating the COB, we aren't going to see that data.
However, based on anecdotal evidence, and careful reading of the few tidbits of data that are available, and my training as a professional geographer interested in such things, I think that some generalizations *can* be made. (BTW, the *best* source of information continues to be Cumorah.com. It is owned by a TBM, but he is remarkably candid in his analysis of church growth.)
My professional conclusion: There is a lot more we do NOT know for certain than we DO know. There is simply insufficient access to meaningful data to draw an accurate conclusion. However, the evidence which IS available would indicate that Mormonism is certainly NOT "the fastest growing church", and, in all probability is stagnant. It is NOT declining, yet. There is NO evidence that the overall rate of growth is negative. However, if I were one of "The Brethren", I would surely be concerned with the current situation.
- The actual number of convert baptisms has decreased for several years. This is based on the annual statistical report delivered in Gen. Conference.
- Most of the growth of "The Church" has been, and continues to be in the Corridor. This is based on the creation of new stakes and construction of new temples.
- Most of the growth of "The Church" continues to be natural growth, through births rather than conversions. BUT, baptisms of children-of-record are declining too.
- Growth of Mormonism in the North America (outside of the corridor) and Europe is virtually flat. It is actually declining in some countries.
- With the exception of new "minority" wards being created in some inner cities, Mormonism is dying off in urban centers, even in SLC.
- The number of people resigning from "The Church" every year is probably increasing. This is based on a telephone conversation I had with a nice lady in the Confidential Member Records Office. She was kind enough to tell me how many people work in that office. That number has increased in recent years. More workers means more records to process.
- Although "the media" continues to buy the old "fastest growing church" line, Mormonism is no longer receiving unbridled praise in the news. The recent idiotic move by Larry Miller (refusing to show "Brokeback Mountain" in one of his theaters) is receiving national attention, and once more, Mormons are coming off looking like dunces. (FWIW, I had an e-mail conversation with a reporter for a major network, and he informed me that he had begun some "in-depth" investigation of Mormonism. I don't know what happened to that investigation.)
- Most conversions to Mormonism are in the Third World, and the drop-out rate in those countries is astronomical. Surveys done in Mexico, Chile, and Brazil indicate that less than 20% of the "members" claimed by "The Church" self-identify as Mormons. I suspect that this is true throughout Latin America, and probably in the Philippines as well.
- The drop-out rate among RMs is disturbingly high. Disturbing enough that GAs have asked questions of local leaders about it. (Wouldn't *that* be an interesting stat to get your hands on?)
- Activity rates in most North American non-Corridor wards/branches is right around 50%. Higher in some areas than others.
IOW, while not all is well in Zion, Mormonism is NOT on the verge of total collapse. Simple inertia will keep it going, and probably even growing slightly, for at least another generation.
| || Nearly One Million Resigned Names Are Still Counted In Mormon Membership Numbers |
Thursday, Apr 6, 2006, at 07:51 AM
Original Author(s): Polygamy Porter
Topic: MORMON MEMBERSHIP -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| http://home.teleport.com/~packham/growth.htm |
Scroll down to June 20, 2001
According to an insider at the COB here is the resignation request growth since 1995:
If we project that growth and estimate at least 110,000 resignations per year for the last three years this would total almost ONE MILLION resignations.
That is significant not only in terms of quantity but more importantly QUALITY.
The people who are resigning are not going to be the inactive/never-active members who were tricked into quick baptisms like a 10 year old Brazillian boy who was baptized so he could play baseball...
The fact that these people are makeing an concerted effort to request name removal would indicate that the people who are resigning are folks who were probably SIGNIFICANT tithe payers, i.e. Americans and Europeans.
The above link to Packham's page claims what many of us have been accusing the church for years, once a member, always a member, at least on statistical records!
The First Presidency is aware of the problem of the "name removed file" growing to hundreds of thousands of names, all still included in the 11 million. It appears that they are reluctant to change the policy, and therefore they still count those people as part of the total membership.
| It's funny that LDS Inc still considers intself the most growing church in the area, a bishop even said so at a DMARC meeting.
Let's evalute that claim.
Two units have been disolved. Des Moines 6th Branch and Des Moines 4th ward. Des Moines 5th Branch (spanish) barely has 50 members. Let's review the outlying units in the stake. Lenox Branch doesn't even have a real place of worship as they meet in a residential home. Oskaloosa and Knoxville are nearly 50% William Penn and Central College students. Osceola Ward is the only sizable unit outside the metro area but that is decieving since it is one of the geographically largest wards in exsistance.
Centerville, Knoxville, Lennox, Des Moines 7th, and Des Moines 5th are all failing units, losing members.
Another important thing to note is that with one exception not a single Bishop or Branch President or counselor in a bishopric or branch presidency was born in Iowa. A majority of the Elder's qourom presidents and Relief Society presidents are either students at DMU medical school or the spouse of a student at DMU medical school. (Would you like to have a high leadership position in the Morg - then come to Iowa! The place in the morg were Utahns are Gods).
Another important thing, there has been zero growth in the past 5 years. LDS Inc has lost more members locally then they have picked up, and they know that there inflatted numbers are just medical students here for 2 years and they know that if the number of Mormon students to DMU takes a slide that nearly 3 units might be dissolved. Also they know that DMU plans to be a more regional school instead of a national school and that there will be less and less students from Utah.
Compare that to the not yet six month old Word Life Community Church. WLCC needs has to buy more chairs because in the past three Sundays we have ran out of places for people to sit, and I don't count heads but I know that I have seats for 120 and another 60 folding chairs. That easily outnumbers any LDS meeting except for stake conferances.
But I think we really beat them in the fact that LDS Inc around here is just "Utah Midwest" for many Utah born and raised Mormons. Utahns run the stake, hold all the leadership positions, and have meetinghouses to gather with their friends from Utah every Sunday. That's why I almost never talk about LDS Inc on Sunday - they aren't even a church here - they are just a club.
It may take years but one day LDS Inc will be just a handfull of nutjobs in rural utah.
| My inlaws came to visit and they live in Utah Country where LDS meeting houses litter the landscape and more are being built. With all the signs of church growth where they live they admitted the church membership is shrinking.
My father-in-law said the church has tottaly changed in the past 20 years from a local ward with it's own leaders with authority and budgets to followers who are completely under the authority of the Salt Lake beurocracy. This has made the church more steryle and cold and the members no longer feel they are part of building Zion but cogs in a big buerocratic machine that the individual at the ward level doesn't count for anything anymore.
My mother-in-law says the church seems to not need the local members as much because they seem to have plenty of money in Salt Lake to throw at things. She says it all seems like busy work to many people.
Both said the church is completely out of touch with the economic hardships and unsteady employment many members deal with. My father-in-law said he worked for the same company for 30 years but those days are gone. Many people are leaving the church because they can't handle the additional stress the church puts on them in a world that unsteady employment is a reality.
My mother-in-law said the church should not be a burdon but it should be there to help people get through their problems but she said the wards have become like a machine and so impersonal they add to the ill feelings people have about life's hardships.
In short, more and more members feel Salt Lake is out of touch. The ward communities that were a real church asset of the past have been decimated due to the fact that people move so much anymore. Wards are now transient social clubs where a few people throw their authority around and stroke their egos but aren't real communities anymore.
Who's leaving the church? The young people. In droves. The number of people serving missions is way down because of the high costs of college. The cost of living has increased so much the average family in the church can't afford to send their kid on a mission and pay for college. The church seems to be popular with wealthy people with big egos to stroke. The middle class and the poor are leaving the church.
My father-in-law says the church is heading for another apostasy. He still believes in the doctrine but believes the church has become what Brigham Young said it would become in the last days. Wealthy and full of pride.
What's frustrating is I can't convince these people that the whole thing was false. They believe in Joseph Smith still. Oh well, they are right on the membership decreasing.
The modern LDS Church is a product of the post WWII economic boom in the US. The once impovershed Utah settlers now had more money and finally the church was out of debt for good. In the 1950's, the temple building increased as did the number of LDS meeting houses. Right now we are at the end of that trend. A half century of economic prosperity has made the church wealthy and less dependant on it's own members. The attitude from the top shows the individual member means less than cost cutting measures and more expenditure in PR. As the average person in the church feels this allienation more, the more likely they will leave or their kids will leave. The church community no longer has the appeal it used to have.
If the cost of healthcare, college, energy, and living in general continue, there's just going to be less available for church donations. Once people find out the church isn't going to help them but blame them on their situation, more will leave.
| In light of BBC reports about the Romney campaign, which described the LDS Church as the fastest growing church, I thought it would be fun to quick check LDS exit rates according to the General Conference Statistical Report.
Table 1. Official Membership Statistics
Colluvium kindly shared his spreadsheet. Although I suspected inconsistencies, the results were so improbable that I had to replicate a part of Colluvium's data collection. The anomalies persisted.
From the Statistical Reports in the Ensign available at lds.org, I have compiled a spreadsheet that depicts the total number of Mormons, the number of births, and the number of convert baptisms by year between 1973 and 2005.
As the data has been copied and pasted, typos are unlikely. However, I would be grateful if someone would take it upon themself to double check. Please, blame me for any mistakes and report them.
Between 1988 and 1996, the Statistical Reports did not contain data about the births or blessings of children, which required the use of baptismal data instead.
Table 2. Calculating Exit Data
I calculated the exit data by adding the number of births and conversions to last year's membership number and subtracting this year's membership number. The subtraction ought to render the number of people that exited the LDS Church, which may include deaths and resignations.
Amazingly, a negative number of people left the LDS Church in 1975, 1989, 1990, and 1999. Assuming that not one single member died in 1999, for example, 8,456 Mormons rose from the dead to join the LDS Church.
Table 3. Highest to Lowest Exit Rate
The exit rate is the quotient of the number of exiting people and the member totals. Excluding the nonsensical negative data, the exit rate is as high as 2.48 exits in 1980 and as low .16% in 1991, a difference of almost 1,577 percent!
Table 4. Estimates Instead of Measurement
Clearly, this data is not reliable. Notice, between 1978 and 91 births and membership totals and between 1978 and 82 conversions were reported in thousands (zeros), which indicates that these figures are estimates.
The data also cannot dissuade the suspicion that only deaths but not resignations are reported as exits from Mormonism. The LDS Church did not allow for resignations until Norman Hancock settled his law suit in 1989.
Please, take a close look at the dates associated with the highest to lowest exit rates.
Table 5. Highest to Lowest Exit Rate, Again!
The higher exit rates date before 1989. Paradoxically, exit rates decline for the period when resignation becomes a possibility.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, the United States of America had a rate of 8.26 deaths per 1,000 residents. Since Mormons have larger families, especially in the past, it is probable that the Mormon death rate was substantially lower than the American average.
The CIA World Fact Book reports death rates of 4.74 and 2.58 per thousand for societies with more traditional family configurations such as Mexico or Saudi Arabia, respectively.
Table 6. Exit Rates Since 1989
Mormons might be traditional but they are not that traditional. If we ignore the nonsensical negative exit rates and focus on the time frame when resignation is an option, then the LDS exit rate is smaller than Mexico's death rate (.00474) in half the cases.
In 1991 and 1997, the Mormon exit rate is even smaller than Saudi Arabia's death rate of .00258.
Therefore it is implausible that the exit statistics deduced from annual LDS Statistical Reports include resignations.
These patterns create doubt about the capacity of the LDS Church to collect reliable data. It can neither contradict the findings of the CUNY Religious Identification Survey, which documents that the LDS Church is no longer growing in the United States, nor the findings of Mexican, Brazilian, and Chilean census collections, which indicate that LDS membership reports might overstate people's attachment to Mormonism.
When Mormon public relations officials content that the LDS Church grows the fastest, I am afraid that there are no facts that would support that claim.
| As I see it one of the fundamental problems with interpreting the stats is that there is a tendency to do it based on the 13 million membership number LDS Inc continually presents. This is a completely bogus number. We all know that.
However, children of record, and convert baptisms are not completely bogus numbers. These represent real babies somebody had, or somebody for whom a real baptismal certificate was filled out. Considering the dropout rate of new converts, these numbers are problematic as well, but at least they start out as real numbers. 13 million members is pure fantasy by any measure.
OK, so for comparative purposes, I will assume there are 4 million at least marginally active LDS members. Frankly, I think even that is a tad optimistic, but it is close enough for looking at growth trends.
Increase in children of record: 94K. That is slightly more than 2.3% birthrate (based on 4 million members). The last statistic I saw for Utah (which was back in the 1990s, but again, close enough for government work, as they say) was 22 births per 1000 residents, which is a 2.2% birthrate.
So, 94K increase in children of record sounds perfectly reasonable for a church of 4 million members with a higher than (US) average birthrate, but a birthrate almost exactly in line with the Utah birthrate.
272,000 converts. This is a 10% jump over last year. I think part of this can be explained by a drop in anti-American opinion (a change from anger to annoyed pity toward America by foreigners). I bet almost all of that increase is in foreign missions, though of course LDS Inc gives us no information about the demographics of who joins LDS Inc, or where they are located.
In any case, I think that is a respectable number of converts, if it represented real growth. It represents 6.8% growth (based on 4 million members).
Total growth, births and converts, is 9.15% (366K/4000K). Impressive enough.
Wards and branches are reported as a group, and increased by 1.4% in 2006.
Stakes and districts are reported separately. Stakes increased by 44 (1.6%) and districts decreased by 13 (2.1% decrease).
To compare stake/district growth to ward/branch growth, it simplifies calculatiions considerably to combine stakes/districts into a single number. Besides, LDS Inc gives us no way to separate wards and branches.
Total stakes/districts: 3375, difference from 2005, 31. Increase of 0.93% (that is nine tenths of 1 percent, not 93 percent).
So, growth in stakes/districts was similar to growth in wards/branches - around 1%.
OK, HERE IS THE PUNCHLINE - gross increase in number of members was 9% of total (actual) membership. Gross increase in number of wards/branches was 1.4%. If the increase in members times 0.153 equals the increase in wards/branches, then "shrinkage" (deaths, resignations, walk-aways) amounts to 85% of the total growth that year.
Jim Huston did some analysis of expected death rates per 1000 in LDS Inc. The US rate is 8.26 deaths per thousand per year. The lower the birthrate of a population, the higher the rate of deaths per thousand. Low birthrate means a higher percentage of older people, and older people are more likely to die in any given year. High birthrate mean a young population, and relatively few deaths.
Median age for various states ranges from 41 for Maine to 28 for Utah. I think the US average median age is 33 (AARP has a list of median ages by state). In any case, the deaths per 1000 for Mormons is probably somewhere around 6, plus or minus 1. High birthrate will lower it, lower life expectancy in third world countries will raise it, health practices of Mormons will lower it, ice cream consumption of Mormons will raise it... I will use the figure of 6 per thousand as the Mormon death rate. Close enough.
That would be about 24,000 deaths per year (per 4 million members, which I am assuming is the real number of members).
Resignations - this is almost a completely blue-sky number. I've seen a number thrown around on RFM, but with very little supporting evidence - 100,000 per year. I'd say that is right, give or take 30,000. That makes it a pretty mushy number. But it does give us something reasonable to work with - resignations are not 5000 per year (clearly too low), nor are they 500,000 per year (clearly too high). 80,000 is somewhere in the ballpark, and that is the number I will use as my "guess". I'd like to think that is a bit on the low side, but it is still 2% of a 4 million member church, which is pretty astonishing loss via a formal resignation process.
Given that, we can make an estimate of how many people just walk away each year.
Finally, if there are 4 million real members, and 27,500 wards/branches, the average number of active members per unit is 145. This to me was a surprisingly small number. There is not a lot of room for shrinkage in a unit this size, since about half of that number consists of people under age 21, who are generally not available to fill leadership positions in the ward/branch.
- 4,000,000 members (the way regular humans would count members).
- Per year growth (2006 numbers)
- +94,000 births
- +272,000 baptisms
- -24,000 deaths
- -80,000 resignations (admitted guestimate)
- +56,000 net growth (1.4% of membership, based on growth of number of wards/branches)
- -206,000 members who simply "go inactive" (5.15%)(calculated from above numbers) This of course includes "converts" who never really participate, children of record that are never baptized, and TBMs who finally throw in the towel.
I also suspect the number of resignations and walk-aways is higher than the 286,000 number I came up with. I think most new wards are created from members moving out of existing wards into new subdivisions, so many existing wards experience slight shrinkage to create the new wards. While some wards are growing, I believe the average ward is shrinking slightly each year.
Only time will be able to confirm this (since LDS Inc isn't likely to release the stats we know they have, which could resolve the question right now), but I think LDS Inc is already losing a few more people each year than they are bringing in. 9% gross growth. 0% net growth (at best, IMHO).
You can quibble about my numbers, but even if I were to concede all the quibbles, growth would be under 1.4%. I think it is well under 1.4% growth.
| My friend Odell reminded me of the Cumorahcom website, which gives you detailed, if somewhat optimistic, statistics for the LDS church in different countries of the world. Granted, the information doesn't go that far back, but it is pretty illuminating, nonetheless. Probably the most helpful statistic is the number of church units (branches and wards) in a country. The number of functioning units is a good indicator of the church's relative strength in a given country.
For example, you get a pretty good snapshot of Jeffrey Holland's clean-up job in Chile, where 300 wards were dissolved between 2000 and 2004.
Comparing the increase in units to the increase in raw membership shows you how well the church is retaining converts. In Spain, for instance, there were 144 units of the church in 1992, with a membership of 23,000. In 2006, there were two fewer units (142), though church membership had increased by 17,000 members. Granted, a lot of the branches became wards, but given an activity rate of 25%, the odds are that attendance in the current wards is much more than the previous branches.
Also, the numbers tells us the relative sufficiency of local priesthood (male) members in staffing leadership positions. Again, in Spain there were enough priesthood holders among 39,000 members to staff 142 units of the Church, or approximately 275 members per unit. In Paraguay, with 22,000 more members, there is only one more unit (a branch, it turns out, as the number of wards is identical at 56), meaning there are 426 members per unit. If the web site is accurate in pegging activity rates in both countries at 25%, that would mean that women far outnumber priesthood holders in Paraguay, which would explain the disparity in the numbers of units between the two countries.
Another interesting statistic is the growth or decline of membership (and units) in some parts of the world. I always thought that the church built temples in places where the membership was growing and able to staff a temple (again, priesthood leaders are needed). But such doesn't seem to be the case for Italy, where the church announced on Saturday it will be building a new temple. Italy's statistics (activity rate of 25%, 22,000 members, and 110 units) tell us that, with an average unit membership of 200, the church seems to be doing well.
However, approximately 5400 members are active at the moment, meaning that attendance averages 49 members a week across the units. And the number of units has been declining from a high of 133 in 2000. Assuming that the activity rate has held steady, average unit attendance in 2000 was 35, and any Mormon can tell you that a branch will have trouble functioning with that few in attendance. Hence the consolidation of units. Even with an average of 49, I'm guessing that most of these units are struggling. Indeed, one active LDS blogger living in Italy mentioned that the unit with the highest attendance in his stake is the Aviano US military ward, with attendance of approximately 100.
The construction of a temple, even one of the new mini-temples, doesn't make much sense against this backdrop of a struggling membership. Maybe the leadership believes that a temple will help people rededicate themselves to the gospel. Of course, that recommitment is usually temporary. The novelty of the temple wears off quickly, and soon the temple presidents are assigning wards and stakes to do a "fill the temple" day.
| The church appears to continue it's shrinkage apace.
We discussed a while back the closure of Johnstone ward a few miles from Paisley due to a lack of members, but it seem too that the Greenock ward has also been closed a few months ago which I was unaware of.
This is significant. These are not offshoot units from the small units programme. Greenock was at one time a large ward which had off shoots in other nearby towns like Dunoon and Largs. It is also the largest church building in Scotland, unusually being having two floors and a basement area. I guess hopes were high when it was built.
All this means that the Paisley Stake has lost two wards in the space of 6 months. This leaves Paisley, Ayr, Irvine, Kilmarnock and Pollok wards and Beith Branch as the only functioning units left.
Paisley Ward has been struggling for a number of years but will be boosted by some of these ward closures and Kilmarnock too is dwindling in numbers. The two coastal wards Irvine and Ayr do OK but mostly because of new road links that have made these places attractive commuter towns.
All in all this a serious blow. I haven't heard how they're spinning it.
| Right in Sunday School Lesson #1:
Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual
4. We can each help to move forward this great latter-day work.
Keep in mind that Hinckley said this in 1995. But according to the pro-Mormon article at:
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The most serious challenge we face, and the most wonderful challenge, is the challenge that comes of growth” (quoted in “President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Apr. 1995, 6).
What are some challenges that are presented by the Church’s tremendous growth? What are some examples of the Church’s efforts to meet these challenges? (Answers could include the dramatic increase in temple building, efforts to build priesthood leadership, and the hastening of the translation of scriptures into many languages.)
Annual LDS growth has progressively declined from over 5 percent in the late 1980s to less than 3 percent from 2000 to 2005. Since 1990, LDS missionaries have been challenged to double the number of baptisms, but instead the number of baptisms per missionary has halved.
| 2007 to 2008
Increase in stakes was 1.0%
Increase in wards and branches was 1.0%
World population growth was 1.2%
US population growth was 0.95%
The church is declining relative to the world population.
There was a catastrophic drop in church unit growth between 1997 and 2003 (Internet apostasy?). It recovered slightly from 2003 to 2005 but has been steadily sliding downwards ever since.
These are figures for wards and branches. Stake figures are similar.
Year....Unit growth (%)
I feel for the members who will get a kick up their backsides....AGAIN....for not doing their home or visiting teaching. It must be miserable to be in a stagnating church and even worse to be in a stagnating Mormon Church.
| The morg made a big deal about growth during gen conference.
They are doing some subtle things with their record keeping to make it
appear as though the growth is greater than it is.
The tscc for years publishes figures in the LDS Almanac regarding growth.
There is a column on increases in children of record. Since 1970 the avg
runs from 70 to 80 thousand. Since 2003 the avg is around 90,000. In 2008
the number increased to 123,502.
My friend who follows this closely called the church offices asking why
such an increase.
Finally he got an answer after much waiting. It turns out that before 2008
the morg dropped children of record on their ninth birthday if they were
not baptized. They made a change that they now keep them on the books until
Dec 31, of the year they turn nine. There were also some other technical
adjustments according to the spokesperson at the church offices.
The effect is that if the previous formula was used, the children of
record would be around 93,698 (the 2007 # ) The church growth in 2008 would
have been 284,704 instead of the reported number of 314,510. This would have
been the third lowest growth rate since 1990.
Another point is that the missionaries in the Western U.S. spend a good
deal of time in going after children of record not yet baptized. There is a
good number of them who get dunked after their guardian gives permission
even though inactive. These are all counted as convert baptisms leaving a
distorted view of the number actually reported.
This is not earthshaking news but just an example of ways the GA's keep
portraying a phenomenal growth rate that is carefully tweaked by changing the
way they keep score.
| A good indicator of activity rate is the member to congregation ratio. If it's low, that means many of the members are holding callings and they are able to split the ward or branch and still function. If it's high it shows that many of those members are either inactive or unwilling to hold a calling, so a large number of them are needed to form a functioning ward or branch. Here is a list of the 15 countries with the highest member to congregation ratio. The numbers below are the number of members per congregation. The first number is from the 2007 church stats, the second number is from the newly released 2008 church stats.
Chile - 888 - 908
Hong Kong - 684 - 726
Bolivia - 632 - 660
El Salvador - 619 - 633
Nicaragua - 615 - 687
Ecuador - 598 - 632
Peru - 588 - 616
Colombia - 560 - 618
Mexico - 559 - 586
Brazil - 553 - 574
Honduras - 552 - 580
Uruguay - 551 - 569
South Korea - 546 - 572
Dominican Republic - 543 - 559
Philippines - 533 - 565
The ratio for every single country rose. Some like Nicaragua rose significantly. Chile remains in a class of it's own with over 900 members per congregation. For comparison Utah is at 392 members per congregation.
This is certainly a very interesting set of statistics and it inspired expanding it to the reported LDS membership statistics as per each April general conference.
Consider the 20 years of LDS published statistics 1989 to 1998 and 1999 to 2009 on a church wide basis:
Over the 10 years since 1999 to 2008, when the impact of the internet was beginning to be significant, LDS reported membership grew from 10.75M to 13.51M, a growth of 2.76 million.
During this same period, the number of new congregations reported went from 25,793 to 28,109, a growth of 2316 congregations. This results in 1192 new members per new congregation, a figure even higher than the 900 reported above for Chile.
Now if we take the 10 years 1989 to 1999 when retention of new members appears to have been better, then there were 10.35M - 7.3M = 3.05 million new members. During this same period, the number of new congregations grew 25,551 - 17,305 = 8,246 new congregations. This results in 370 new members per new congregation pre 1999 compared to the 1192 new members per new congregation since - a dramatic shift. In 1998 there were 405 members per congregation on a church wide basis.
These figures speak for themselves. They obviously do not need to increase the number of units to accommodate the new members reported - so these new members are not sticking around.
Then, in 1996, a member of the [Bremen] ward encountered a couple of disturbing articles about the early history of the church from the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, a conservative Protestant organization with an anti-Mormon mission. Attempting to come to terms with these, he asked friends in the ward for help and, in so doing, unintentionally started a wave of apostasy. Another brother translated parts of these articles into German and distributed them to members. In the fall discussion circles formed and letters were written to local and regional church authorities, questioning the official version of church history. The issues at stake were, first, the different versions of the First Vision as evidence of a developing concept of God rather than an initially clear and complete picture through revelation; second, differences between the Book of Commandments and the Doctrine and Covenants as evidence of changed (or possibly forged) revelations; and, finally, controversy over whether the Book of Mormon was a fiction or a genuinely ancient record. The members were especially upset because these papers had been written twenty years earlier (when most of them had just begun their membership in the church), but evidently no church response or explanation had ever been made available.
In February 1997 the mission president tried to solve the problem in one stroke by inviting everyone to a question-and-answer evening. During that meeting tension became acute between the group questioning the church's truthfulness regarding its history and members affirming their testimonies and high esteem for the Book of Mormon and the First Vision. The mission president did not answer the questions specifically, but called for a spiritual approach when hard historical facts were placed in question. When he defined truth as "whatever the prophet says, if he is not mistaken," some members decided to leave the ward. Two former bishops and a former branch president were among those who left. All together thirty people left, most of them long active in responsible church positions such as branch and district presidencies, district and stake high councils. The wards, of course, were left in an uproar and are still trying to regain composure. The Delmonhorst Branch was subsequently dissolved. The remaining dwarfunits continue to struggle. ("One Hundred Eighteen Years of Attitude: The History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Free and Hanseatic City of Bremen," by Jorg Dittberner, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 36, no. 1, Spring 2003, p. 68)
| Not so good from the reports at General Conference.
Regardless of the reasons behind the raising of the bar for missionary service (anounced October 2002), and the subsequent drop in missionary numbers, how are they performing? By rights this new chosen generation, from which all none hackers have been weeded out, armed with the new "Preach My Gospel" manual (produced in 2004) should be baptising aplenty.
I looked at the statistical report from each April General Conference since 1988 (when i was a mishie, definitely a pre-bar raising generation. In fact from some i met i'm not sure there was a bar). From looking at number of missionaries and number of converts it's possible to determine number of converts per missionary per year.
The missionaries who served in the first full year after the bar was raised were the worst performing missionaries of the last 20 years, possibly ever, with 4.32 converts per full time missionary. In 2006 the missionary force climbed above 5 per mishie for the first time since the new millenium. A modest increase in 2007 but then a sharp downturn last year.
I have heard numerous missionaries report that they are being told that they are the best generation, that they are achieving more baptisms with fewer missionaries. All the evidence points to a diminishing return.
| I just looked at the numbers from Canada between 2007 and 2008, and found that LDS church claims it has lost 502 members between Dec. 31 2007 and Dec. 31 2008. It went from 178,102 to 177,600. In previous years, membership had increased by 2,000 - 3,000 members a year. |
Note that this is not the actual number of members, which was 104,745 in the 2001 census, putting actual members at around 55-60% of the number claimed by the church. But if even the official numbers show a decline, it might be getting bad out there. Apparently the number of people resigning (maybe taken out of statistics?), dieing, and emigrating is less than those being born, converting, or immigrating. Or maybe they are purging the rolls?
Net gain by province
Alberta: 747 (down from about 1000 - 1500/year earlier in decade)
British Columbia: -572
New Brunswick: -121
Northwest Territories: -55
Nova Scotia: 35
Prince Edward Island: 18
To say the least, when the 2011 census is taken and a question on religion is asked, the results should be interesting to say the least.
| || Dying Or Leaving? Comparing Church Statistical Reports From General Conference |
Friday, Sep 18, 2009, at 07:57 AM
Original Author(s): Eric Davis
Topic: MORMON MEMBERSHIP -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| I was looking at www.lds.org reading the general conference statistical results for the past couple years. Here are the numbers that I noticed. |
At the end of 2008
Total Membership: 13,508,509
Total increase of new members: 389,095
children of record baptisms: 123,502
convert baptisms: 265,593
Net growth of church from 2007 to 2008: 314,510
Total membership loss during 2008: 74,585
At the end of 2007
Total Membership: 13,193,999
Total increase of new members: 372,916
children of record baptisms: 93,698
convert baptisms: 279,218
Net growth of church from 2006 to 2007: 325,393
Total membership loss during 2007: 47,523
At the end of 2006
Total Membership: 12,868,606
Total increase of new members: 366,851
children of record baptisms: 94,006
convert baptisms: 272,845
Net growth of church from 2005 to 2006: 307,737
Total membership loss during 2006: 59,114
At the end of 2005
Total Membership: 12,560,869
Total increase of new members: 336,258
children of record baptisms: 93,150
convert baptisms: 243,108
Net growth of church from 2004 to 2005: 285,047
Total membership loss during 2005: 51,211
At the end of 2004
I found it interesting that even though the church continues to grow at a slow and steady rate (the percentage is actually dropping a little year to year, about 2.3% in 2008), the numbers of loss of membership over the years have been pretty erratic.
What I am curious about is: how many of those numbers represent people who died, who no longer appear on church records, or how many of the numbers represent people who have resigned or been excommunicated? These numbers can't possibly be ALL people who died. Death rates tend to follow similar trends as population growth rates.
Let's just assume that during 2007 (the lowest year of membership decline above) that 99% of those were people who died. That means that about 47,048 church members died during 2007. Therefore, about 475 members were excommunicated or resigned that year. 47,048 members dying would represent 0.357% of the total membership of the church in 2007.
If (roughly) that percentage of members are dying each year then for each of the other three years in the study:
2008: about 48,170 church members died
2006: about 45,940
2005: about 44,842
If the church lost 74,585 members in 2008, and only about 48,170 were people who died, that would mean some 26,415 people were either excommunicated or resigned that year. My question is, is it possible that the church is experiencing that great of an exodus? And what will the numbers be like in the future?
| Using official Morg stats. from LDS.org, I've done up a spreadsheet of total membership, new children of record, convert baptisms, no. of mishies, and no. of missions for each year since 1994, the start of the Internet Age. The official 1993 total membership was 8,696,224 (as of Dec. 31 of that year), and I used it as the baseline.
According to the online info., in 1994 (for example), 44,923 Mormons died, were excommunicated, and resigned (assuming TSCC doesn't include excommunicated and resigned members - still 'members', just a different category of 'member'? - in its annual statistical report).
Based on the numbers on LDS.org, 1998 ended with a total church membership of 10,354,241 people, and during 1999, no Mormon died, was excommunicated or resigned. It was a miraculous year, no?!
Assuming TSCC's published no.'s can be trusted, in 1998 92,246 Latter-day Saints died, were excommunicated or resigned, but just the previous year, only 17,037 'moved on'. Clearly, when Stan...errr...Satan...yes...SATAN was working overtime in '98!
More recently, in 2007, the no. was 47,523, and two years ago (2008), it jumped to 74,585.
IMO, membership no.'s published by TSCC are very suspect.
| After I mentioned that Asa Sul Ward in Brasilia Brazil is about to be closed, Anon-b wrote:
"Forty years ago that building was used by a single branch that included all of Brasilia. But at that time almost all of the members actually lived in Asa Sul -- and there were more of them than seem to attend the Asa Sul ward today. It would seem that even in South America the church has stopped growing."
Yes, the Asa Sul wardhouse was dedicated in 1966. Back then it was home to the Brasilia Branch, that has been split several times ever since, giving birth to the five stakes in the metropolitan area of Brasilia today.
After so many splits to show "phenomenal growth", the Asa Sul ward has been hurting badly in the last 25 years or so.
Asa Sul has become a VERY expensive neighborhood, mostly inhabited by elderly rich people. (Exactly those who would NEVER open their doors to LDS missionaries.) Younger members move away to the less expensive suburbs, and as people die off, so does the ward.
This is typical of rich areas in Brazil. The cult boasts "fabulous" growth, but it is only the case in slums and other areas inhabited by illiterate, gullible people. (Who, in turn, fall away shortly after baptism.)
Here goes a small list of wards that have been shut down in the last few years in rich neighborhoods of Rio and Sao Paulo (the two biggest cites of Brazil):
Rio de Janeiro
- Brooklin Ward (wardhouse turned into an Institute building)
- Aeroporto Ward (no idea of what they did to the building)
- Pinheiros Ward (merged with Cerqueira Cesar Ward)
- Congonhas Ward
- Bom Retiro Ward
- Cambuci Ward and Ipiranga Ward (merged into Monumento Ward)
- Marajoara Branch (merged into Sao Paulo 12th Ward)
- Vila Inah, Previdencia and Jardim Guedala Wards (merged into Morumbi Ward)
- Paraiso Ward and Liberdade Branch (merged into Vila Mariana Ward)
Fabulous growth... Yeah right!!!!!
- Copacabana Ward (merged into Botafogo Ward and later reassigned to Jardim Botanico Ward)
- Gavea Ward (merged into Jardim Botanico Ward)
- Laranjeiras Ward (merged into Botafogo Ward)
In Brasilia, the Lago Sul Ward was shut down in the early 1990s. (It's the richest area in town.) The wardhouse was left unoccupied for several years, and the few members reassigned to Asa Sul.
Then in the late 90s the surrounding areas (formerly occupied by ranches) were illegaly divided into parcels and gave birth to new middle-class neighborhoods ("condominios"). Lots of mormons moved into these illegal parcels, and the Lago Sul Ward was reopened. (Mormons everywhere LOVE illegal stuff.)
But all this with zero baptisms in the wealthy areas, of course.
Lago Norte, the other very rich neighborhood, never became a ward, not even a branch. Still part of Asa Norte Ward.
Same for "Park Way" neighborhood, part of Nucleo Bandeirante Ward. (Except for a few members from there who prefer to go to Lago Sul Ward. Nucleo Bandeirante is not fancy enough...)
| The Standard of Truth.
"The Standard of Truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame. But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and dependent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, until the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah will say, 'The work is done.'" Joseph Smith
Pretty heady stuff indeed. If you ask any tbm if their church is the fastest growing church in the country/world, they would say yes. The church news, ensign, mormontimes, Deseret News all basically place the mormon church as the center of the universe where AMAZING things are constantly HAPPENING to bring about the Lord's work. So and so just got called as mission presidents to the Philippines! Sam Jensen just got called to China! Did you hear about the new stake in Mongolia!..............All the while the church never actually shares any real data regarding their success......or failure.
When I was tbm and trying to work my mind around all the cog dis and the church possibly not being true, one of the real stumbling blocks for me was the blind tbm assumption that the church is bulletproof. The church does not have negative numbers. The church is always successful. There is a cult of personality built around the church itself. Failure and the church just never go together when you are tbm. In this way, the church really was somehow better and more amazing and more unstoppable. The church just went from being successful to more successful.
However, when I started investigating the church, I was shocked to find negative demographics and trends associated with the church. Church growth, retention, resignations, temple attendance, all of it negative. ALL OF IT. In fact, I could not really see how the church was spreading or succeeding at all at the level that GOD cared about.....you know, the whole DandC 1:39 thing.
So I thought it would be good to compile as many random, one off negative trends, percentages, numbers etc. regarding the great "stone cut without hands"
Like just the other day over at common consent they were talking about how 70% of the youth are inactive along the Wasatch front. Wow. That is bad.
Combined, the church sends only 30% of eligible boys on missions from the US and Canada.
In my stake, super rich tbm stake in Gilbert, only 43% of boys are going on missions. (btw, the stk pres says that is the fault of parents who are not faithful enough)
Of the 300,000 aprox annual baptisms, 80% are outside the US. (from cumorah.com)
There are over a million members of record in Mexico but only MAYBE 220,000 active members.
The church keeps members on their rolls until their are 110.
The church is building a new temple in Rome, wow, except there are maybe, maybe 5000 active or semi active members in THE WHOLE FREAKING COUNTRY.
The church are experts in projecting a veneer of success and growth to their members. The only problem is that like everything else with the church, it is not true.
| The Parramatta Australia Stake was closed a couple of weeks ago. This is the first stake closure in Australia. My father was in the inaugural stake presidency and we were members of the stake for most of my early years in the church.
The PR spin is predictable in the news release created for the sheeple. There is no mention of a stake closure. The news appears in an article headed "New Local Leadership for Sydney Saints". Even this heading is inaccurate because the new stake president has been a stake president several times before. They are clearly running out of talented leadership.
The real news of the stake closure is quite accurately portrayed on the LDS Church "Growth" website.
Stake discontinued in Australia
"For the first time in LDS Church history in Australia, a stake was discontinued. The Sydney Australia Parramatta Stake was consolidated into several neighboring stakes in the Sydney area. The number of congregations in many Australian stakes is much lower than other nations, which jeopardizes the continued operation of some stakes if large numbers of members move away and few new converts are baptized and retained. Overall Australia has experienced moderate membership growth rates among industrialized nations but has experienced stagnant congregational growth."
If it wasn't for the dramatic increase in Polynesian membership in the church in Sydney due to immigration from New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, the church would be in very serious decline.
| The number is shrinking.
For me, being a member was a such a burden, but I did it because I wanted a huge blessing. Many active members think that way, too, even now.
What are the burdens?
1) Tithing! It is very expensive to live in Tokyo. People become financially successful not because they pay to the church but their hard works and special talents which they worked hard to develop.
2) Attending so many useless meetings everyday (Mon:FHE,Tue:Temple,Wed:VT or HM,Thu:Home making/youth activity/other meeting held at church,Fri:helping missionary discussion/baptism/church activity/conference), Sun:all day church (8 am to 8 pm and at least 1 hour for each way as a commuting time),and the early morning seminary and Institute. My friend was a seminary teacher and said that was not worth it at all.
3) So much pressure on marriage and full-time mission as if there are anything else that important. People give up good careers, schools, and their personal goals to show a complete salute to the prophet. But they soon find there aren't any result and leave the church.
4) Word of Wisdom. Drinking green tea is a traditional custom in Japan. It is very rude to decline tea when the host tries his/her very best to show you hospitality. The Mormon have to explain each time(many times a day!)at every occasion(in a company too!)why they don't drink. It is Ok for the foreigners to decline but not the natives. I know some active Mormons died from cancer at relatively young age. Perhaps they should have sipped some teas.
5) Students do not have enough time to study. There are just too many meetings that students do not have enough time, unless the one is very smart and that one can memorize and retain information very easily. The church leaders tell us the church callings and meeting are more important than the school works.
6) The leaders constantly press us to work even harder to bring in more investigators, do more volunteer works in a community,attend temple more often, do VT and HT 100 %,attend all the meeting to support the church and bro. and sis., and do everything else perfectly!! Not possible!
7) Everything! They ask us to give the church everything! But the blessings they promise are in the heaven. We just need to wait or we haven't work hard enough so there are no blessings.
Because of all these burdens, in addition to some weird doctrines(racism, plural marriage, Mormon history,location of the Garden of Eden, origin of American Indians), they quit church.
It is NOT growing.
I wish the church will give me some refund. Many companies would give me, if I am not satisfied with their products. Why not church?
| I found the post about resigned member records interesting.
What I know and can evidence is the records of former members who were excommunicated. I say 'former members' because when you are excommunicated you are no longer a member of the church - even if you still attend.
I was excommunicated and have legally obtained a copy of my full membership record and what was interesting is that it not only listed my former ward/stake but my current one. My current ward being "EXCOMMUNICATED RECORDS" which has a unit number and my stake being "MEMBERSHIP SYSTEM" (if I remember correctly - the document is currently in storage) which had it's own unit number as well.
But how can I be on the membership system (and presumably statistically counted as a member) when I am not one? I'm certain resigned members will also have a ward and stake that acts as a folder/filing system to organise all resigned former members in one section of the membership record database. Try getting baptised again and see what they say! I have a hunch that they are also count resigned members in statistics too. Of couse we have no proof but some strong indicators. It would be interesting to look at the fall in numbers (difference between increase in new members both convert and children of record and the previous years membership total) and see how death rates worldwide fit into each countries membership total to see what the figures suggest.
Yes I live in London, UK. It took a request under the Data Protection Act 1998. I initially wanted all the records to do with my disciplinary council and a membership record is counted with these in the church handbook. I wasn't sent a copy of anything to start with but I didn't accept their response and they eventually cut their contact with me, i.e. Adminstration staff told not to talk to me and they responded only via their solicitors.
At one point their solicitors said I was given a copy of my nembership record after my first request, but I wasn't - they eventually gave me a copy - but it wasn't too hard to get that information - as well as a copy of the temples living ordinance records they keep and the record of my tith/offering contributions (because they are contributions to a UK charity here in the UK). They wouldn't give me a copy of anything that had been sent to church headquarters.
The data protection authorities in the UK in fact have assessed my complaint against the church and said that they are "unlikely" to have complied with the data protection act. But so far the church has done nothing to put things right and are saying their reasons why they don't need to give me copies of disciplinary reports. It's still being dealt with my the authority in the UK but I'm sure the church is going to continue to challenge then every step of the way.
Of course I will continue, because we haven't come to an agreement yet. The UK Church (as in the incorporated company that holds the church's assests/money in the UK - the church itself is an unincorporated religious association) got a barrister to give the data protection authority an "Opinion" - while I do not agree with much of what he says - he agrees that a contractual document between the UK incorporated church and the church's subordinate organisations in the US five me rights. i.e. The Corp. President, the Corp. Of the Presiding Bishop and Intellectual Reserve Inc. Have agreed to give me the right of access to my records that they hold. Yet it's the general consul in Utah dealing with the UK requests, acting as the UK company. I say this because they're trying to make out the UK and US companies are entirely seperate and not connected.
| Forget the numbers they spout off in General Conference about the growth of the church. We know those numbers aren't reliable. However I would think that the growth in units (wards, branches, stakes) can indicate the real growth rate of Mormonism and the approximate number of active members.
It appears that they ARE growing just by looking at the increase in the number of wards, branches and stakes, though the growth doesn't seem to be nearly as large when compared to the gross number of membership increase.
I wonder though if, in the short term, the Morg leaders are decreasing the number of members required to open up new wards and stakes, just to make the unit growth look good too. For example, if they used to require 8 wards in a stake and decreased it to 7, just to increase the gross number of stakes. Same with wards. If they used to require say 300 active members but they decrease it to 150, they could increase the number of wards by 100%. Now obviously they can't do this forever because there HAS to be a minimum number of members for a fully functioning ward. I know they shuffle membership between wards and branches too which can skew the unit growth.
I'd love to be able to see real growth just by looking at the unit growth, which should be an accurate, but I am afraid that the Morg is adjusting requirements for a unit to be a ward by lowering the numbers or splitting a ward into two branches.
Does any know if there is an officially required number of active ward members for a unit to become a ward? or the number of wards/branches for an area to become a stake? Does any have any insider knowledge or experience of this process? Are the requirements different geographically or is it uniform throughout the world?
The requirements vary by country and by state. In Utah, there are very concise requirements, including number of active MP, families, etc. In other areas, not so much. Long term trends indicate that the number of units per stake has stayed about the same at 8 units. The number of members of record per unit has trended upward over the past decade or so, from about 450 to nearly 500. I think this indicates a retention issue, not one of growth.
In the past year, most of the stakes created were in Utah and reflected the creation of YSA stakes and wards. So, a unit (branch or ward) was pulled from each stake that had a YSA unit, and placed in a YSA stake. No actual growth, just realignment.
Typically, a stake is not created unless there is actual growth to support a stake. Growth in members of record continues, although much slower than 30 years ago. So, if one were to compare growth in membership as a percent against growth in stakes as a percent, one can assume that long term retention is running about 1/3. Not so great.
Another long term trend I see as part of the lack of member retention is the increase in children of record. If one takes a projected birth rate of 14/1000 (US avg.) against the membership as a whole, it indicates that the church is loosing babies. In other words, typically even among the hard core "less active", the grandfather takes the new born to church for naming and blessing, thus creating a child of record, but never to be seen again. Even this appears to be not happening, since the imputed birth rate of members (typically much higher than national average) is running at about 9/1000. Is it any wonder that the church is pushing its young members to get married and have kids? The only solid growth is in children.
| The LDS Church is stating there is a lot of new growth in Ethiopia:
Ok, here's my take on them "growing" in Ethiopia, as I used to live and work out of Dire Dawa (and basically saw the entire country).
If they had 100% membership growth, that would be from like 10 to 20. In a country of over 80 million people which will be expanding to 120 million in the coming decades. Phenomenal growth? A "foothold" in the Horn? If you really think so. I'll guarantee 90-something percent of Ethiopians have never heard of them, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has SUCH a firm hold over the country, its unique history, culture, and way of life, that Mormonism will never make anything more than a laughable presence there.
It is a relatively liberal and permissive society, and so I can see a few starry-eyed students who studied abroad converting, but for the average Ethiopian, no way. It's a country with several different ethnic groups, minority religions, etc., but something like Mormonism would never take hold there and the missionaries will be given the opportunity to come in over the EPRDF's (the ruling party) dead bodies.
They will do better in Asia than in the Horn. In Dire Dawa, a very large Ethiopian city to the NE of Addis Ababa, I would have literally had no one else to worship with if I had wanted to (I was in the church when I was there). Remember, these LDS news releases give no sense of perspective except the church's. Crack open the almanac to see what even their pathetic self-reported numbers are in the country. Just my two cents.
The Falashas (Beta Israel) were a remnant of the original Jews that lived there and we're required to undergo Orthodox conversion to be accepted in Israel. They're treated horribly. They rallied to donate blood once due to shortages, and the hospitals threw it all out.
Ethiopia is majority Oriental (non-Chalcedonian) Orthodox Christian, and used to have the Coptic patriarch as the head. There's about 30% Muslims there, in the Somali and Harari populations of the east, the Afar of the north, and the Oromo in the central. The Amhara and Tigray are exclusively Orthodox.
| Church records are notoriously stale, even for TBM members.
When I was a clerk a member examined his records and noted that both his (member) parents had divorced and remarried since their records were last updated. I suggested (joking) that it might be easier if his parents divorced their current spouses and remarried the people on the Church's records.
Wards are notoriously slow processing records. Two of my bishops were functionally illiterate. Persuading them to do their paperwork was a harder thing than writing on the gold plates. A member who resigned (when he learned that he couldn't meet President Hinckley) was on our ward list for many years.
DO NOT CONTACT is not an official Church record. It would be better (for all) if it was. Nevertheless, members who ask not to have contact (but haven't resigned) can be lost as ward leaders revolve.
We had a new bishop called who had recently moved into the ward from another province. The bishop was determined to contact every family on the ward list. Many addresses were no longer current. However, I apprised the bishop of families I knew would reject his invitation (aggressively). We finally removed the brother who resigned years before. But since I only had knowledge dating back ~7 years, I advised the bishop to review the ward list with his counselor who had been in bishoprics for 30 years. We hoped that would save the bishop from walking into any minefields.
Wouldn't it be great if anyone who fails to attend tithing settlement (even to declare zip) is considered to have resigned?
| || South American (Particularly Chilean) Missionaries and the "Miracles" Taking Place |
Monday, Dec 17, 2012, at 09:17 AM
Original Author(s): Tightlikeuntoadish
Topic: MORMON MEMBERSHIP -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Thoughts on the following video:
For those of you who served missions in South America, did you witness the "miracles" spoken of here? I served in Chile during the late 90s and can tell you that the "miracles" consist of little more than baptizing 8-year-old kids who like Gringos and really poor, helpless folks who (and I mean no insult here) were too gullible and ignorant to know any different.
And as for the "amazing" statistic that 1 in 20 Chileans is a Mormon...well...my honest estimate is that 1 in 20 Mormons are active in Chile. Hell, most inactives we met never had a clue who Joseph Smith was, nor did they have any idea that they were Mormon. They had been baptized and processed through the factory, only to leave and go back to being Catholic or whatever they were before. In fact, on 2 different occasions, I ended up teaching and commiting to baptism 2 different people who were ALREADY MORMON!!!! They had no clue, nor did they care.
Miracles in Chile?!? Not really. In fact, I recall taking over an area where the previous elder (a real "hero" of the mission...became an A.P. and a "legend") had baptized 15 people. After I took over the area I was surprised to discover that NONE had received the Holy Ghost, nor had any intention on returning to church.
| I'm very aware that the 14m figure is a complete lie (real TBM numbers are about 6-8m) but I wonder if people here think TSCC is growing at all?
Factors to consider in favour of any church growth are new converts and massive Mormon families. Factors against include converts not returning and staying 'on the books' until aged 110 plus apparently increased numbers of people leaving/resigning.
Best estimates are that between 4 - 4.5 million Mormons are "active," and by that they mean "attending sacrament meeting at least once a month." That is a very low threshold to use in designating "activity" among Mormons. Cumorah.com once indicated that the rate of Mormons who were truly "active"--including holding temple recommends, paying tithing, holding positions--was only some 2.5 million or so people.
One must always remember that Mormonism does not work for about 70% of all Mormons. For every three people baptized, two walk out the door. One of those two never even really comes in the door in the first place but remains marginalized even at the point of baptism, and after a short period of time generally considers him or herself not even Mormon. This roughly one-third of all Mormons remain totally unaffiliated with Mormonism, a good part of them (we'll never know), in fact, members of other churches. The LDS leadership refuse to see this as a failure, but rather as members who have "fulfilled the measure of their creation," whateverthehell that means. I think it means that they did what they were born to do, i.e., found the missionaries and got baptized and will have to be dealt with in the hereafter.
The fact that missionaries are taught to focus on numbers and not conversion is a stinging rebuke for Mormon leadership. They have nothing to gain from 2/3 of their baptisms other than bragging rights. These 2/3 of all members bring in no gain in tithing and waste considerable resources at the ward and branch level. Of the 1/3 that are "active" (attending at least once per month), only a portion of them pay all the money and do all the work. We also have to keep in mind that a sizable chunk of these truly active people are also unbelieving New Order Mormons, those who attend and jump the required hurdles, but do so only to keep the peace in a family that will otherwise be destroyed if one leaves the fold.
In short, Mormonism is a tiny church. If they didn't have the clout that their money gives them, they would be nothing. So that explains their constant need for monetary gain.
| I have a few statistics released by the Mormon church in their 2012 April conference. With the exception of the 30% convert retention rate cited below (a rate which can be easily verified via other statistical sources), all of the following statistics come directly from the Monson church, as reported by them for the 2011 calendar year. These stats show an accelerating decline, as you will see:
Claimed membership went from 14,131,467 to 14,441,346, which would be an increase of 309,879.
The church says they had "Children of Record" (COR) additions of 119,917.
The church claims 281,312 new converts were baptized during 2011.
119,917 (COR) + 281,312 (CONVERTS) = 401,229 total increase, which is 91,350 higher than their claimed increase of 309,879. Presumably this difference of 91,350 is due to deaths, because even if they are all deaths, it still isn't enough statistical deaths for that large of a population. So, I will label the 91,350 as DEATHS, even though the church does not explicitly identify this group.
With a convert retention rate of 30%, the 281,312 converts will result in 84,394 remaining converts after the first year.
84,394 (CONVERTS) + 119,917 (COR) - 91,350 (DEATHS) = 112,961 (INCREASE). This does not include removal requests (where people resign from the church), and also is about 7,000 fewer that the similar 2010 calculation showed, again not counting removal requests.
(NOTE: Former LDS Bishop Earl Erskine reports the following: "...If you have your name removed from the church, that the church simply takes you out of that 'unit' [ward]-- they call it a 'unit' that you are in-- and put you in an 'unknown address' category, so you are still part of the 14 million [total members]").
Even if you do not include the 30% convert retention rate calculation, but instead list ALL converts, it results in a "growth" rate of 2.19%, which is the lowest growth rate since 1947, using their own statistics.
Their 2011 statistics show an increase in wards and branches (UNITS) of 124. If you take their reported increase of 309,879 divided by 124, it means that each new UNIT averaged 2,499 members. But when you take the total reported members of 14,441,346 divided by the total reported UNITS of 28,784, you only get 501.7 members per UNIT. Comparing 501.7 to 2,499 strongly suggests bad data is being reported by them somewhere-- or, at the very least, it is strongly indicative of a convert retention problem that is not otherwise being reported. Also reporting DEATHS at a rate significantly lower than census statistics indicates bad data is being reported by them somewhere. And the total lack of resignation data in their current records reports again indicates bad data is being reported by them somewhere.
Thus, their numbers do not add up. But even if you accept them just as they are, and give the most optimistic view of the records possible, it shows a decline relative to the population (USA as well as the world's), and the lowest growth rate since 1947.
| I have been thinking lately about the prospects for church growth in Africa, India, and China after listening to a Mormon Stories podcast with Matt Martinich of the Cumorah Foundation (here: http://mormonstories.org/320-changing... ). Unfortunately for the residents of those countries, church history is not going to be available in their language, even if they have access to the internet. I am not sure babelfsh works for smaller dialects.
So Mormon optimism about growth in those countries is probably well founded. Matt relates the story about the self-converting Nigerians in his Mormon Stories interview, and also how it came crashing to a halt when one student discovered the truth about the priesthood ban and passed the news along. Apparently a group of Nigerians discovered Mormon literature and set up their own 'branch', requesting support and missionaries from the main church. They were sent literature, and plans were in the works for missionaries before civil unrest broke out. Then word got back from a student studying at a US university, including choice quotes from Brigham Young apparently, and the whole branch thought better of the idea.
What? The Nigerian miracle branch backed-down?
Some apostle was bragging about them just in the past 2 years.
He said that the church had whole congregations in Africa ready to baptize but that the CHURCH was deliberately going slow to allow "natural" growth.
What's funny to me is that the church only does "missionary work" in Africa so it can look good compared to all the other Christian and whatever else missionary orgs. Geez, any reputable "missionary" org works in Africa right? Lucky for all missionary causes, Africa is just one vast humanitarian crisis right? God gave us this opportunity to help them. Not sure why centuries of western colonial "help" hasn't fixed things, but let's keep trying.
But every OTHER "emerging" country has been a disappointment for the the church.
Is there ONE single country other than the US that is propping up the church? Nope. It's all-American. Still. As ever.
Past hopefuls? Hey, what happened to all that talk in the '90's that Spanish was the most-spoken language in the church, because of phenomenal growth in Latin America? Nope. Massive consolidations of church units in Chile. Massive overstating of membership in all Latin American countries, by at LEAST a factor of 5-to-1 such as Mexico, and 10-to-1 in Chile.
Latin America was a staple of 50-to-100-baptism missionaries for DECADES...(I was jealous, only got like 5 baptisms in a Great Lakes mission). Even when post-war Japan, Korea, and Taiwan stopped putting out, you could count on Latin America for those stadium-filling numbers.
Now, Chile tops the list of members-per-unit, even AFTER massive unit consolidations it STILL has 900 members per unit! Right. Anecdotally Chilean units have, if they're lucky, 50 active members each.
Japan, Korea, Taiwan...declining.
These were the backup when Europe and European satellites stopped putting out.
Now the untapped fields are Africa, the muslim world, and mainland Asia. looking good, more than half the world's population there. But a church always propped-up by core US funding may have met its match.
Can they AFFORD doubling or tripling their membership in countries that will COST money instead of make money?
The church is wise to move slowly here. They could get in over their heads fast. But the church's hesitence is also a give-away, it's NOT saving souls that makes the church tick...it's money.
They BEG developed populations to join the church, continuing to send missionaries to places like Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea...where conversions are few and retention poor, because anyone they CAN get pays.
Meanwhile they're reluctant to "harvest" vast numbers of ready souls who...can't afford salvation.
| I was chatting with my wife last night and realized that the last 4 places we have lived (3 in Utah and 1 overseas) have each experienced rather significantly ward/unit consolidation within the past year or so. For example, in the last place we lived in Utah County, I heard it straight from the stake leadership that the activity rate in the stake had dropped by 30+% over the past decade, necessitating the consolidation of many units across multiple stakes. Our current stake in Utah County just dissolved 2 units (one ward, 1 large branch) within the last month and a half (no idea if they have experienced a similar decline in activity rates). The location we lived in overseas has seen 4 branches consolidated into 1 in the last year or so. Also, as of about 2 years ago or so, the mission I served in overseas no longer exists (one of the many consolidated missions around the world at the time). I have heard of other such ward/stake/mission consolidations in other parts of the U.S. and around the world, but I am curious if others here have any specific examples and what your experiences have been.
I am curious about this because whenever I talk to those in positions of church leadership (I am still active and have been in positions where I have had the ear of those leaders) at the ward and stake level they don't seem to think there is much of a problem. And it seems like at least some at FAIR think the notion of many in the church falling away is "greatly exaggerated".
It seems that at least in those areas where such consolidations are occurring that the local church leadership would have more of a sense of the problem/urgency related to increasing inactivity rates and member disaffection, though it is not my sense that they do. I suppose part of the issue is that when those in leadership are confronted with declining activity rates and unit consolidations that they tend to revert back to the "5 myths" of disaffection (never had a testimony, was offended, is lazy, wants to sin, is studying anti-Mormon literature), rather than acknowledging that members are increasingly experiencing real and legitimate faith crisis as they grapple with aspects of church history, doctrine, policy, and practice. I had a communication with an individual last week who said he knows well many who have left the church over the past decade, and though when each are asked they say they left for historical/doctrinal reasons, he "knows" the "real reasons" they left...
So there seems to continue to be a rather large disconnect. As one who is committed to staying in the church and making it work, I am at a bit of a loss...
| I was looking at the church's membership and missionary numbers from 1977 to present and a few things stuck out to me:
In 1977, the number of missionaries per mission was 161. In 2011, it was 163. This number has remained relatively stable over the years, from a low of 146 in 1982 to a high of 184 in 2002. Given the new number of missions next year will be 405, if the church is going to maintain approximately the same level of missionaries per mission that they have historically, I would think that they are estimating anywhere between 59,000 and 74,000 missionaries to be in the field next year. Split that in half and you have 66,500 missionaries, not much higher than the all-time high of 61,638 in 2002. So unless the church is planning to increase the number of missionaries per mission to about 240 (which they've never even approached), the members who are proclaiming that the new missionary age requirements are going to double the number of missionaries seems way off. It doesn't look like that is what the church is planning on.
Next note - in 1980, the number of members per unit (ward or branch) was 368. That number climbed every year thereafter until 1991 (432). It then declined steadily to 405 in 1998. It has risen every year since then through 2011 when it reached an all-time high of 502. That's 134 more people per unit than in 1980. I'm willing to wager the attendance numbers per unit have not risen even close to that much, if at all.
In 2011, the church added 309,879 members. Assuming 502 (active or inactive) members per unit, you would expect them to have also added around 617 units. But in reality they only added 124. Where are all those new members going? Apparently not to church. I suppose a member would say you can't expect the church to generate that many units out of 300,000 brand new members. But since they've been reporting roughly the same influx of members annually for the last twenty years, you'd think at some point these new members would be ready to run a ward. But they're not showing up.
Last note - in 1977, converts per missionary was 6.64 (granted, "converts" is defined by the church and who knows how they really come up with their number). This rose to 8.03 in 1989. The last time it was over 6.0 was 1996. In 2011 it was 5.08. If the 66,500 new missionaries out in the field duplicate that effort next year, they'll bring in about 56,000 more converts than in 2011, which appears to equate to about 22 new wards and branches (given that 309,879 new members yeilded 124 units in 2011). Not exactly an overwhelming number.
|Year||Membership||Children||Converts||FT Miss.||Deaths||Exp. Memb.|| Deviation|
|2011|| 14,441,346|| 119,917 || 281,312 || 55,410 || 121,018 || 14,411,678 || 29,668|
|2010|| 14,131,467|| 120,528|| 272,814|| 52,225|| 118,422|| 14,102,344|| 29,123 |
|2009|| 13,824,854|| 119,722|| 280,106|| 51,736|| 115,852|| 13,795,136|| 29,718 |
|2008|| 13,508,509|| 123,502|| 265,593|| 52,494|| 113,201|| 13,472,528|| 35,981 |
|2007|| 13,193,999|| 93,698|| 279,218|| 52,686|| 110,566|| 13,133,683|| 60,316 |
|2006|| 12,868,606|| 94,006|| 272,845|| 53,164|| 107,839|| 12,822,460|| 45,146 |
|2005|| 12,560,869|| 93,150|| 243,108|| 52,060|| 105,260|| 12,509,209|| 51,660 |
|2004|| 12,275,822|| 98,870|| 241,239|| 51,067|| 102,871|| 12,224,927|| 50,895 |
|2003|| 11,985,254|| 99,457|| 242,923|| 56,237|| 100,436|| 11,965,701|| 19,553 |
|2002|| 11,721,548|| 81,132|| 283,138|| 61,638|| 98,227|| 11,663,306|| 58,242 |
|2001|| 11,394,522|| 69,522|| 292,612|| 60,850|| 95,486|| 11,338,238|| 56,284 |
|2000|| 11,068,861|| 81,450|| 273,973|| 60,784|| 92,757|| 11,018,299|| 50,562 |
|1999|| 10,752,986|| 84,118|| 306,171|| 58,593|| 90,110|| 10,657,761|| 95,225 |
|1998|| 10,354,241|| 76,829|| 299,134|| 57,853|| 86,769|| 10,362,096|| (7,855) |
|1997|| 10,070,524|| 75,214|| 317,798|| 56,531|| 84,391|| 10,006,321|| 64,203 |
|1996|| 9,694,549|| 81,017|| 321,385|| 52,938|| 81,240|| 9,665,023|| 29,526 |
|1995|| 9,340,898|| 71,139|| 304,330|| 48,631|| 78,277|| 9,324,412|| 19,486 |
|1994|| 9,024,569|| 72,538|| 300,730|| 47,311|| 75,626|| 8,996,618|| 27,951 |
|1993|| 8,696,224|| 76,312|| 304,808|| 48,708|| 72,874|| 8,717,565|| (21,341) |
|1992|| 8,406,895|| 77,380|| 274,477|| 46,025|| 70,450|| 8,403,811|| 3,084 |
|1991|| 8,120,000|| 75,000|| 297,770|| 43,395|| 68,046|| 8,067,741|| 52,259 |
|1990|| 7,760,000|| 78,000|| 330,877|| 43,651|| 65,029|| 7,647,703|| 112,297 |
|1989|| 7,300,000|| 75,000|| 318,940|| 39,739|| 61,174|| 7,057,626|| 242,374 |
|1988|| 6,720,000|| 73,000|| 256,515|| 36,132|| 56,314|| 6,715,548|| 4,452 |
|1987|| 6,440,000|| 75,000|| 227,284|| 34,750|| 53,967|| 6,420,579|| 19,421 |
|1986|| 6,170,000|| 72,000|| 216,210|| 31,803|| 51,705|| 6,158,600|| 11,400 |
|1985|| 5,920,000|| 70,000|| 197,640|| 29,265|| 49,610|| 5,870,293|| 49,707 |
|1984|| 5,650,000|| 69,000|| 192,983|| 27,655|| 47,347|| 5,616,731|| 33,269 |
|1983|| 5,400,000|| 69,000|| 189,419|| 26,565|| 45,252|| 5,380,136|| 19,864 |
|1982|| 5,165,000|| 67,000|| 207,000|| 26,300|| 43,283|| 5,168,636|| (3,636) |
|1981|| 4,936,000|| 69,000|| 224,000|| 29,700|| 41,364|| 4,892,134|| 43,866 |
|1980|| 4,638,000|| 65,000|| 221,000|| 29,953|| 38,866|| 4,687,801|| (49,801) |
|1979|| 4,439,000|| 67,000|| 193,000|| 29,454|| 37,199|| 4,385,139|| 53,861 |
|1978|| 4,160,000|| 63,000|| 152,000|| 27,669|| 34,861|| 4,147,765|| 12,235 |
|1977|| 3,966,000|| 62,000|| 167,939|| 25,300|| 33,235|
Membership= Total Membership
Children= Children of Record Added
Converts= Convert Baptisms
FT Miss.= Full-time Missionaries Serving
Exp. Memb. = Expected Total Membership
I pulled the data in the Total Membership, Children of Record, Convert Baptisms, and Full-Time Missionaries columns from the church's annual statistical report presented in General Conference. Who knows how accurate those numbers really are. But they do show some interesting trends. I calculated the figures in the Deaths column by applying the US death rate of 8.38 deaths per 1,000 people to the previous year's church membership. So it's not exact, but a good ballpark estimate. The Expected Membership column takes the previous year's membership, adds children and converts from the current year, and subtracts deaths based on last year's membership. Deviation shows the difference between the expected membership using this calculation and the membership reported by the church. As you can see, the actual membership reported is almost always significantly higher than what would be expected. I can't think of any other factors besides children and converts that should be increasing the membership number. And I haven't even factored in excommunications or resignations. So something seems to be inflating the total membership number.
One thing that immediately pops out to me is the jump in children of record from 2007 to 2008. In the earlier years of this table, the church actually reported two children of record numbers: number born (or blessed, can't remember exactly which way it was worded) and number baptized. The first was always higher. After a while they started reporting just one number, "Children of Record Added," which seemed to correspond with the number of children baptized. In 2008 they may have switched reporting to children born number, since it was higher, to give the appearance of more growth. One reason for this may be because by 2003, the number of deaths in the church (based on my estimate) appears to have started to eclipse the number of children baptized into the church. Switching to the higher number makes it appear that there is still internal growth.
Another point of interest for me is the level of full-time missionaries. In 1977, 0.638% of the church membership were full-time missionaries. This percentage fluctuates up and down, up and down, until 2000, when it was at 0.549%. It has fallen every single year since, and is now at 0.370%. I don't think it's coincidence that the fall has coincided with the proliferation of the Internet. I would expect members to say something about standards for service being higher now than in the past, but I remember the same "set the bar higher" rhetoric when I was preparing for my mission in the mid-90's, and the number of missionaries rose steadily for several years after that, up until the steady decline following 2000. I believe the church is more than happy to get whoever they can to serve, but a smaller and smaller percentage of members are stepping forward.
I think the number of full-time missionaries is perhaps the most important number on this chart. I think it's a straightforward figure that the church reports accurately. There are only so many serving on December 31 of any given year, and it's not hard for the church to count them up by mission. There are no inactive or resigned missionaries. They're not moving around and getting counted twice. As for the total membership numbers, children of record, and converts, who knows what voodoo math the church uses to get those numbers. But the missionary number, I think, paints a pretty good picture of just how much the church is growing (or not growing). Missionaries are active members who have been through the temple (for the most part). One would expect that if more and more members were being born or baptized into the church, and these new members were faithful, the missionary numbers would be going up too. The church says more and more members are being born and baptized, but the missionary numbers are not going up. It's because fewer and fewer members are faithful.
I believe the percentage of members serving as missionaries will continue to fall as fewer and fewer of the youth are willing to serve when the time comes. The church will continue to grow as children are born to less-active families, and as the stream of uneducated and needy converts continues to flow in. But in time, the number of missionaries will hit a critical level where they won't be baptizing enough converts. And the number of children of record will fall due to resignations and smaller families. Then the total membership number will begin to level off. At that point, with active membership levels and total missionary numbers falling, and consequently, the number of convert baptisms dropping, the total membership numbers will begin to fall. I'm not sure how long it will take to get there. I think it will mostly depend on the spreading of the Internet and information about the church through other countries. But it will happen. It won't totally disappear. There will always be believers out there. And the church may make changes that allow it to appeal more to those that they're losing (doubtful). But I will go on record as saying I will be shocked to see the church's total membership number double again in my lifetime. I'll also go on record as saying that the record high of 61,638 missionaries in 2002 will not be broken.
In summary: just more confirmation of what we've all known or suspected for a long time - the church has a real growth and retention problem. And this missionary age/new missions deal is nothing more than a band-aid.
| With Its Track Record of Fictional Figuring, LDS Inc. Claims 15 Million...
. . . and counting.
Uh-huh. You folks crunch the numbers--with deservedly healthy skepticism.
First, that head count, Mormon-style:
"'Mormon Church Membership Hits 15 Million'
"SALT LAKE CITY--The president of the Mormon Church says worldwide membership has hit 15 million, representing a three-fold increase over the three decades.
"President Thomas S. Monson announced the milestone during the opening session of the two-day Mormon Church conference Saturday morning.
"The bi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints brings 100,000 members to Salt Lake City. More than half of church members live outside of the United States.
"Monson says The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints began with 30 members in 1830, taking more than a century to hit the 1 million milestone.
"Matt Martinich, a member of the LDS Church who analyzes membership numbers with the non-profit Cumorah Foundation, says Church membership has tripled since 1982 when there were 5 million members."
("Mormon Church Membership Hits 15 Million," by Brady McCombs, "Associated Press," 5 October 2013, at: http://www.azcentral.com/news/free/20...)
Reason to doubt the Mormon Church's officially-declared claims regarding its supposed overall membership numbers is based on the fact that LDS, Inc. was last year forced to retract exaggerated assertions it made of supposedly pew-popping expansion in the United States.
Let's examine its unreliable record.
--The Mormon Church Has Its Predictably Misleading Way of Counting Some and Discounting Others
"'Change Lowers Mormonism's Growth Rate'
"If you suspected the newly released U.S. Religion Census overstated the LDS Church's growth rate, you were right. That's because, this time around, the Utah-based faith changed the way it reported its membership to the researchers.
"The once-a-decade study was assembled by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, which included self-reported data on adherents for 153 participating bodies.
"Its report pegged U.S. Mormon growth at 45.5 percent, jumping from 4,224,026 in 2000 to 6,144,582 in 2010. The 2000 figure, though, was much lower than the 5,208,827 listed in the LDS Church's almanac. If researchers had been given that figure, the percentage of growth would have been considerably smaller, closer to 18 percent.
"The LDS Church also supplied smaller Utah membership numbers to the state--figures government officials use for planning.
"Here's how the LDS Church explains the discrepancy between the 2000 Religion Census figure and its own almanac for the same year.
"'Total [LDS] Church membership numbers are derived from those individuals who have been baptized or born into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," spokesman Scott Trotter said Wednesday. "They are neither projections nor estimates.'
"Trotter acknowledged that, in past years, LDS membership figures reported to the census researchers "were understated."
"For those years, he said, the LDS Church 'left out numbers of members who, although baptized, were not currently associated with a specific congregation. This year, we included total membership numbers to more accurately reflect all of those found on Church records.'
"Dale Jones, a researcher on the Religion Census, said he wished the LDS Church had alerted him about the change in its reporting methods. But Jones, director of research services at the Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center in Kansas, said he had no problem with the shift.
"'Any group can define [its membership] however they like,' Jones said. 'Mormons are not the only ones to change, and it's not a big deal.'
"If the LDS growth rate slipped from 45 percent to, say, 20 percent, it would still put the Mormons at the top of the list"among Christian faiths, he said. 'I don't care if it's half as much. It's not the same story, but it's still a great story.'
"In fact, Jones said, reporting the LDS Church's entire membership list 'is closer to what most Protestants do.'
"In his own Nazarene faith, officials 'have an inactive members list as well, and we do include them in our total membership,' he said. 'In that sense, this move actually strengthens our case for saying our data is pretty comparable across denominations.'
"The LDS Church does not remove any name from the list unless the person is excommunicated, asks to be removed or is dead. That means that a large number of members remain on the rolls who no longer attend or even consider themselves to be Mormon.
"'We estimate that only 40 percent of LDS Church members in the U.S. attend church regularly,' said Matt Martinich, an independent researcher who studies Mormon demographics for cumorah.com. 'That number varies by region--some areas have very high attendance like 70 percent and some as low as 20 percent.'
"Martinich gets that activity rate by comparing the ratio of members to congregations, LDS seminary and institute enrollment, and member and missionary reports.
"Unlike other studies, which track beliefs and attendance, the Religion Census attempts to count the actual number of people affiliated with U.S. congregations. For instance, it listed Utah's Catholic population at 160,125. But Catholics, who make up by far the state's second largest religion after the predominant Mormon faith, say the real figure is closer to 300,000."
("Change Lowers Mormonism's Growth Rate," by Peggy Fletcher Stack, "The Salt Lake Tribune," 18 May 2013, at: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/540...; see also, "Church Falsifies U.S. Membership Numbers for National Survey," posted by "Simon in Oz," on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board, May 2012, at; http://exmormon.org/d6/drupal/Mormon-...)
--The Mormon Church's "15 Million" Claim Deserves Further Disbelief Since It Has a History of Releasing Highly-Questionable Membership Numbers (Which Serve to Disguise the Drop in the Rate of Convert Baptisms)
"'LDS Church Growth Statistics: Anomalies Since 1970'
"[In April 2013], the LDS Church released their statistical report for 2012 at their General Conference held in Salt Lake City. They release these reports every spring, and you can review the historical data . . . from the LDS General Conference archive . . . . Since the General Conference archive only goes back to 1971 (which includes 1970 data) we'll only analyze data from 1970 onward.
" . . . It's important to note that these figures are self-reported by the LDS Church and, as far as I know, the figures are not audited or verified by any third party. The information they choose to release--accurate or inaccurate as it may be--is all that's available. Everything else is just guesswork . . . .
"Total LDS Church Membership
"First, let's look at the self-reported total membership of the LDS Church over time.
[As the Mormon Church declares it], [t]here's some strong growth here. The LDS Church grew from about 3 million members in 1970 to about 15 million in 2012, which means it grew five times larger in a little more than 40 years. [Graphing the numbers] appears to show some exponential growth but the trend has also been quite linear since about 1990 or so.
"Okay, so what about year-over-year change in membership? To get this information, I simply calculated the difference in total Church membership for each consecutive year. Nothing else was taken into account. . . .
"LDS Church Year-Over-Year Change in Membership
"[Graphing these numbers], [o]n average, it's obvious that the LDS Church is adding an increasing number of members each year although it's . . . pretty erratic . . . . Let's smooth things out by graphing this data as a five-year rolling average.
"LDS Church Year-Over-Year Change in Membership: Five Year Average
"[Graphing in 5-year segments makes it] much easier to see . . . . There's still an upward trend in year-over-year change in membership since 1970 but there's also a notable downward trend since the peak in the early 1990s. To be clear, this doesn't mean that the LDS Church is not growing (the first graph proves that) but that the number of members added each year is down from its peak 20 years ago.
"So, all this is showing growth trends in terms of members added--but what happens when we look at growth trends as growth rate?
"[Further graphing] shows the percentage of year-over-year change in membership compared to the total number of members, which is effectively the Church rate of growth. Again, we're not being specific about anything other than the change in year-over-year membership. It could be due to missionary work or 8-year-old baptisms but this data is completely neutral.
"LDS Church Growth Rate: Percentage
"We're seeing a downward trend but again it's pretty erratic, so let's smooth it out with a 5-year rolling average. . . .
"Over the past 40 years, the year-over-year rate of growth for the LDS Church has been slowing. This is to be expected because it's easier for a small organization to display huge growth rates than it is for a large one. There are a number of reasons for this but a big reason is that each year it's more and more likely that receptive converts have already joined the Church.
"Still, the LDS Church's current growth rate of about 2.25% well outpaces the world population growth rate of 1.15% and the United States' population growth rate of 0.72%. This means that if the growth rate held firm, every person in the world would eventually be a member of the LDS Church.
"This is highly unlikely, though, given the steady, predictable erosion of the LDS Church's growth rate. However, it's worth noting that, at the current growth rate, each year a (slightly) larger percentage of the world's population belongs to the LDS Church. With about 6,973,700,000 people on earth, that means 0.21% of them are Mormon--or about 1 in 472. By next year, another 0.0045% of the world will probably be Mormon. Modest, no doubt, but growing, nonetheless.
"Evangelism is important in the LDS Church and their pursuit of new members is a proportionally gigantic effort. They have released self-reported conversion statistics as part of their annual reports since at least 1970 so we can take a peek at how the missionary effort is progressing.
"First, let's take a look at total yearly convert baptisms, which means conversions coming from outside the LDS Church and not children of Church members. These are straight-forward numbers and no retention information is included [in this study]. . . .
"LDS Church Convert Baptisms
"[The provided] convert-baptisms graph generally corresponds with trends we've seen in previous graphs. Numbers of annual convert baptisms exploded from about 1974 until 1980 and again from 1985 until 1990. Since 1990, the trend has generally tapered downward with an obvious low spot in the mid-2000s. It has somewhat recovered in the past few years but the current number of annual baptisms still falls short of the rates seen during the 1990s.
"Now, let's look at those same convert baptisms figures as a percentage of total reported Church membership. . . .
"LDS Church Convert Baptisms: Percentage of Total Membership
"When looking at the growth rate of convert baptisms, we see a definite downward trend. The recurring peak in the early 1990s appears here, too, but an even higher peak happens in 1980--showing just how effective, proportionally, the Mormon missionary effort was from the late 1970s until the early 1980s.
"Another way of saying this is that each year it's probable that a smaller percentage of Mormons will be new converts than in previous years. This is pretty easily shown on a graph. In any given year, a certain percentage of Mormons will have been baptized within the past five years and we can display this trend, year by year, with [another] graph.
"LDS Church Percentage of Recent Converts (Past Five Years)
"Over time, new converts are becoming rarer in the Mormon Church. In 1980, nearly 1/5 of all members had been baptized within the previous five years. By 1990, the number had fallen to about 1/6 and in 2012 fewer than 1/10 of members had been baptized within the past five years. The opposite is true, too; More than 90% of all current LDS Church members have been Mormon for over five years (92.3%).
"Children of Record and 8-Year-Old Baptisms
"In the LDS Church, children are eligible for baptism when they turn eight years old. For statistical purposes, the Church has historically separated convert baptisms from child baptisms, probably to differentiate growth from missionary work versus growth from natural population growth.
"There's some statistical trouble [with this approach], though, because the LDS Church hasn't always counted growth from reproduction the same way through the years.
"In 1970--which is our statistical starting year for this study--the LDS Church reported the number of 8-year-old baptisms, as well as the number of children of record. I assume these two numbers show the number of children added to the official member tally (8-year-old baptisms) and the number of new babies which were blessed but not added to the membership tally (children of record).
"This reporting changed for 1984 when the LDS Church began reporting only 8-year-old baptisms and stopped reporting children of record. This continued until 1997 when the reporting reversed and the Church started reporting children of record and not specifically 8-year-old baptisms. This reporting continues from 1997 forward. It's unclear whether the Church merely changed the title of the statistic or if they actually began counting a different set of people. We don't know so we won't assume that we know what's going on. For our purposes here, we'll only look at the numbers.
"To reflect these statistical inconsistencies, [a graph with more than one line is needed]. One line . . . shows the number of children of record, while the other line . . . shows the number of 8-year-olds baptized. . . .
"LDS Church Children of Record and 8-Year-Olds Baptized
"To be really honest, I don't know what's going on. There's no way to be certain. There are a few things we can gather, however.
"First, things are trending upward for both metrics indicating that there are more children in the LDS Church each year, regardless of their classification.
"Second, it's pretty apparent that the . . . line [for](children of record) . . . is unrelated to the other lines. It's on a whole different trajectory and, to make things worse, it just stops until 1997 when the [children-of-record] term comes back but seems to more closely correspond to the '8-year-olds baptized' line.
"It seems far more plausible that the LDS Church may have just changed the terminology for 8-year-old baptisms to children of record and the [children of record line] in 1997 is just a continuation of the [same] line before it. It's a little strange, though, because the line gets a lot more erratic and choppier after the change. Maybe that's just real numbers and, again, we'll never know for sure.
"One other thing we can know is how these rather inconsistent numbers look as a growth rate. This is the percentage of total membership that's either an 8-year-old baptism or a change in children of record. . . .
"LDS Church Growth Rate for 8-Year-Olds Baptized and Children of Record
"Things are clear as mud here, too, but we can draw a lot of the same conclusions as before.
"First, we're seeing an overall declining growth rate for these figures, regardless of how they're classified. We can be quite confident in saying there are an increasing number of children in the LDS church each year but each year the percentage of the membership that is either an 8-year-old baptism or an increase in children of record is smaller.
"Now, I want to point out some interesting statistical anomalies found in the data. The . . . graph [for] Year-Over-Year Change in Membership shows the yearly difference in the total number of LDS Church members. I got this number by simply subtracting the previous year's membership total from each year's membership total since 1970. (For 1970, I subtracted 1969?s total, which is available from the LDS Church).
"Each year, the number is positive--meaning that each year there are more Mormons than the year before (at least since 1970) and we know how many more there are. We also have conversion and children of record statistics so we can readily compare conversion details to membership numbers as a whole.
"[A following] graph shows how the conversion numbers break down. . . . From the second graph in this entry (Year-Over-Year Change in Membership) we know how many more LDS Church members there are that year versus the year before; and for each year shown [on this graph], we'll call that 100% since it's the total growth.
"To break down this yearly 100%, we'll take the percentage of the growth that's due to convert baptisms [and to] 8-year-olds baptized and the total of the two. Together, each year, the two statistics should add up to about 100%, allowing some wiggle room for members who have died or left. However, these totals shouldn't be too far from 100% because, well, you can't convert more than 100% of the members added and you can't add members that you don't baptize.
"The green bars show the percentage of the total from convert baptisms; the blue bars show the percentage of the total from increase of children of record or 8-year-olds baptized; and the orange bars show the total of the two compared to the reported change in membership. Please note that before 1997 I counted 8-year-old baptisms for the blue bars and after 1997 I counted children of record because I didn't have much choice. . . .
"LDS Church Growth Breakdown
"[THe graph showing these numbers] uncovers some very interesting anomalies in the data.
"For instance, in 1973 the Mormon Church membership was reported to have increased to 3,306,658 from 3,218,908 the previous year--a difference of 87,750 members. But the Church also reported that they had baptized 80,128 new converts and 52,789 8-year-olds (totaling 132,917)--or over 150% of the membership increase that year. That leaves 45,167 members unaccounted for. When looking again at the graph Year-Over-Year Change in Membership, we see that 1973 is the lowest year for increase in membership--the only year lower than 100,000.
"We see this same phenomenon quite a few times in the graph.
"In 2011, there were 91,350 members unaccounted for. Again, perhaps these members died or left but there's a notable discrepancy between baptisms and increase in total church membership.
"Even stranger are years like 1989--when the total number of baptisms falls short of the Mormon Church membership increase for that year. The LDS Church shows a membership increase of 587,234 in 1989 but there were only 318,940 convert baptisms and 75,000 8-year-old baptisms--meaning that 193,294 members were added to the membership total that weren't baptized.
"We see the same thing in 1990, in 1999 and in several years in the 1970s and 80s. The phenomenon hasn't occurred in the past ten years.
"It's anyone's guess as to what's going on. Perhaps the LDS Church has had a difficult time keeping such vast records straight and the numbers show errors in their collected data or perhaps the Church has made some calculation mistakes in their yearly General Conference reports over the years.
"We know with certainty that a number of Mormon Church members die each year and those decreases could be reflected [in this analysis=.
"We don't know whether the LDS Church removes resigned members or excommunicated members from their tally but if they do, that could explain some of the discrepancies.
"The LDS Church is growing. The Church adds a significant number of converts and baptized children to its membership total each year. From the first graph [in this analysis], you can see a strikingly linear growth chart showing that LDS Church growth is robust and will likely continue indefinitely. Even so, there is a notable decrease in the overall LDS Church growth rate, both among converts baptized and among children baptized."
("LDS Church Growth Statistics, Anomalies Since 1970," posted by 'RoundelMike," complete with graphs, 7 May 2013, at: http://roundelmike.com/2013/05/lds-ch...)
Let's keep things in perspective--one provided by none other than Marlin Jensen, the Mormon Church's official historian, who blabbed the truth at the expense of the LDS Church's official fiction to a group of Mormon college students, faculty and other Church members at Weber State University.
As reported by the Reuters News Agency:
"A religious studies class late last year at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, was unusual for two reasons:
"The small group of students, faculty and faithful there to hear Mormon Elder Marlin Jensen were openly troubled about the future of their Church, asking hard questions.
"And Jensen was uncharacteristically frank in acknowledging their concerns.
"Did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know that members are 'leaving in droves?' a woman asked.
"'We are aware,' said Jensen, according to a tape recording of his unscripted remarks. 'And I'm speaking of the 15 men that are above me in the hierarchy of the Church. They really do know and they really care,' he said. . . .
"Jensen, the Church's official historian, would not provide any figures on the rate of defections but he told Reuters that attrition has accelerated in the last five or 10 years, reflecting greater secularization of society"
("Special Report: Mormonism Besieged by the Modern Age," by Peter Henderson and Kristina Cooke, Reuters News Agency, 31 January 2012, at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/0...)
The Mormon Church knows and cares, all right.
So much so that it's desperately fudging the numbers. Math for the Myth. It all adds up to subtracting credibility.
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