Quantcast
Faith

Religion census reveals substantial LDS growth

Comments

Return To Article
  • VocalLocal Salt Lake, UT
    May 1, 2012 3:43 p.m.

    These numbers are self-reported and unreliable. LDS self-reported stats include all members who have ever been baptized or born to LDS parents (even if those children weren't baptized later). Also if the LDS church cannot find a member (usually because that member wishes to remain outside of the faith) that member is kept on the Church records until he/she is 110. Statistical surveys-which rely on random sampling and that only county people who consider themselves members of a particular religion-suggest that the LDS growth in the United States is essentially flat-neither growing or shrinking.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 1, 2012 4:34 p.m.

    "The numbers are based on membership reports from the religious bodies, as opposed to public opinion surveys that speak to individuals who identify themselves as members of one denomination or another."

    I prefer the latter because then it doesn't have to worry about different recordkeeping tendencies between different churches.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 1, 2012 4:37 p.m.

    Dear Vocal Local: This study was conducted by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious bodies on a county by county basis. It was NOT based on numbers reported by the LDS Church. The LDS Church is one of the fasted growing religions in the world and, I guess, some people can't stand to deal with that.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 1, 2012 4:38 p.m.

    For instance, if the Catholic and Methodist churches kept count the same way the LDS church did then my infant baptism as a Catholic would count me as a Catholic on this survey, my conversion and dozen years attending a Methodist church would count me as Methodist on this survey, and my being part of the LDS church as of 2010 would have counted me as LDS on this survey. 3 religions for one person.

  • Neanderthal Salt Lake City, UT
    May 1, 2012 4:59 p.m.

    @atl134: "3 religions for one person."

    Hedging your bets.

    You've tripled your chances of making it to heave. Not a bad idea.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    May 1, 2012 5:19 p.m.

    Sometimes I am amazing at how much nonsense gets published on here.

    The truth is, there are different methods of counting and the LDS Church keeps more than one. The church keeps track of how many join the church and how many attend. This way both numbers are kept. Heaven forbid the LDS Church not do every last thing the way the D.N. comment board cynics want it to. It's a number- a number! This must be an outrageous scandal!

    I'm sure someone will argue about the honest of the LDS Church, the attempt to "twist the facts to misrepresent the truth" and so on. The truth is, it's a number, it aint hurting anyone, and the church keeps track of more numbers than just the one. Please, please, please- Get over it. :)

  • Ethan Yorgason Daegu, Korea
    May 1, 2012 5:53 p.m.

    Just did a quick comparison: The (church) self-reported study shows American Mormonism growing at 3.82% per year. The (adherent) self-identified study shows 3.03% growth per year. Another way to say something similar is that (extrapolating from the available data), nearly 59% of the church's self-reported population self-identified as Mormon on the (adults-only) adherent-reported survey. By 2010, that percent dropped to 54.5%.

    Though this is just one comparison, and more analysis needs to be done, the takeaway to me is: Mormonism continues to grow at a healthy rate, even on adherent-reported measures, though not as fast as its own claims; and the gap between church reporting of members and adherent-self reporting is widening somewhat.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 1, 2012 6:08 p.m.

    Counter Intelligence... actually not very true. The church counts members regardless if they show up on sunday or not. Average church attendance is in or around 50% on average of who is on the roles. If you look at a Baptist or Evangelical church, if a person doesn't show up over a period of time, they are taken off the records because each church unit is a free standing entity. There is no master list of Baptist where a name is moved form one role to another when they move or change locations.

    This doesn't still take away from the growth that is being seen in other areas. In my area, some locations over the last 10 years had seen a 1 for 3 growth. We have added two new stakes. To Utah, that doesn't sound like much. But for out here, that is astronomic growth when compared to historical growth rates. Locals are very much aware of out presence.. where as before we were an oddity out here.

    So yes, some comparing apples to oranges here, but it does still show trends and that is just about as important.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 1, 2012 7:44 p.m.

    @Cats
    "It was NOT based on numbers reported by the LDS Church."

    From the article...

    "The numbers are based on membership reports from the religious bodies, as opposed to public opinion surveys that speak to individuals who identify themselves as members of one denomination or another."

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    May 1, 2012 7:47 p.m.

    It should be noted that the LDS Church still counts me as a member, even though I have requested both in person and in writing that they stop doing so.

  • trekker Salt Lake, UT
    May 1, 2012 7:53 p.m.

    Just because i do not attend all the time or go inactive doesn't mean i am not a member, you are a member until you have your records and membership removed.

  • mightymite DRAPER, UT
    May 1, 2012 8:31 p.m.

    And how much effort is needed to remove your record? Way to hard. Most people just give up and are still counted. I am assuming there is a fairly significant percentage in this group.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 1, 2012 8:42 p.m.

    "The numbers are based on membership reports from the religious bodies"

    Geez people. It is there in black and white. Feel free to refute the article, but it clearly states where the numbers come from.

    Additionally, you take 50,000 to 60,000 missionaries worldwide pushing ANY religion and it will grow and probably grow substantially.

    THAT is the primary reason the LDS religion is growing.

  • Ethan Yorgason Daegu, Korea
    May 1, 2012 8:53 p.m.

    Apologies to anyone who read my first post. My comparison was too quick. I was working with the adherent-identified figures from 1990 and mistakenly assumed they were from 2000. It is more accurate to say that the % of Americans who identify themselves as Mormons has changed very little over the past 20 years (still about 1.4%). Thus Mormon growth in the US is barely keeping up with overall population growth (on a %, not absolute basis). This also means that the gap between LDS church reporting and adherent self-reporting is widening faster than my first message implies.

    These figures should be better for about the past decade: adherent-reported church growth is about 2.3% per year, compared to 3.8% for church-reported figures. And the percentage of people who self-identify as US Mormons compared to church reported figures has dropped from about 61.5% to less than 54%. (Self-reporting doesn't include non-adults, but this shouldn't much affect the fact that the gap between self and church reporting is widening over time.)

  • VocalLocal Salt Lake, UT
    May 1, 2012 9:22 p.m.

    @VST
    There continues to be new building projects both because of population shifts to different areas (for example Salt Lake City proper is no longer predominantly LDS by the Church's own admission while the Mormon population of the south end of the valley has grown substantially) and because some areas continue to experience growth. However there is evidence that the Church's growth in the United States is stagnating or even flat. For example, the recent Pew Forum survey on religion throughout the country, based on random sampling rather than inconsistent statistics provided by each denomination, estimated the inflow of Mormon adults (those raised LDS or those who converted who still considered themselves LDS) was less than the outflows (those who had joined the LDS who now considered themselves something else). Admittedly, these figures were in the range of statistical error so it is not clear there is a decline-what is clear though from this and other surveys that the Church's growth (based on people who consider themselves LDS) in the United States is leveling out and at best is around the growth rate of the general population.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    May 1, 2012 9:25 p.m.

    @voice of reason

    "Sometimes I am amazing at how much nonsense gets published on here."

    "Please, please, please- Get over it."

    So much for civil and respectful.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    May 1, 2012 9:27 p.m.

    JoeBlow,

    It could have something to do with the LDS Church being true... Did you consider that possibility?

    :)

  • Ethan Yorgason Daegu, Korea
    May 1, 2012 9:53 p.m.

    @VOR: Yes the church keeps more than one set of numbers, and yes different numbers are used for different purposes. The figures reported in this article (church official figures) make more sense for pastoral purposes: keeping track of all those who have made LDS baptismal covenants. The figures brought up by others (such as self-identified Mormons) make more sense for sociological purposes: we thus know how many people want to be called Mormon, and we can compare that to how many feel that they belong to other religions.

    It's only when figures that are better used pastorally are used sociologically (as some seem to do, though the article itself provides helpful cautions), that some will remind that the more sociologically appropriate figures are not as rosy.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 2, 2012 4:39 a.m.

    VOR,

    "It could have something to do with the LDS Church being true."

    Of course it is true. Just like all the others :)

    The bottom line is that the LDS church has a massive worldwide "sales force"
    and lots of advertising dollars.

    That equates to converts, regardless of "truthiness".

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    May 2, 2012 5:51 a.m.

    I am surprised at the number of comments that want to only include LDS active as those that attend church more than once a month yet don't call for the same for the other religions. I feel that if we only looked at really active members than the Catholic numbers would adjust accordingly too. You have to be fair across the board.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    May 2, 2012 5:55 a.m.

    Wow, I am really surprised in the change to Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Florida.

    I wish they had the stats for 10% and higher too.

  • MC Ute Midvale, UT
    May 2, 2012 7:27 a.m.

    I figured that this article would bring out the "Mormon" bashers. If you are so against the LDS Religion why do you waste your time reading and commenting on everything that is published regarding the LDS Religion. If you are not interested ang somebody approaches you regarding the religion, be civil, say you have no interest and guess what, they will leave you alone. It blows me away how much time is wasted on hating a group of people.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2012 8:31 a.m.

    JoeBlow,

    If there were no missionaries, of course there would be less members. But saying "it's just numbers, not truthfulness" also doesn't make the LDS Church any less true. You didn't necessarily imply it, but it could have been implied in your argument. I just wanted to clarify.

    The best place to learn about it being true isn't in the numbers, but in the Book of Mormon.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    May 2, 2012 8:39 a.m.

    Being humble is more important than being worthy (though the two may be synonymous); scriptures say the humble will be exalted. Many verses do humble us such as Matt. 8: 12, "But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness." God's people fell in the Bible, it could happen again. Don't think it can't. The world is being converted, more people are coming out of poverty, I hear 2 billion across the globe will join the middle class in the next 20 years, there will be an wealth explosion. How many people can handle wealth though? Another thing that humbles us is a quote (I forget by whom) of LDS leadership maybe a century ago that "God's work is too big to be done by just one group of people" God's work is being done by many nations, religions and cultures.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    May 2, 2012 8:52 a.m.

    I was most interested in the map labeled "LDS Church Membership Penetration," but a little confused over what it was trying to represent. In the article it suggested that the percentages given were percentages of growth in each county, but I was seeing it as merely a current status of the presence of the church in each county of the US. If it were representing a percentage of growth, the red areas (more than 5% in the last 10 years) would be very HUGE in areas already predominantly LDS. On the other hand, if it just measures "presence" in percentages of the population of the areas, as I would like to think of it, then it would have been nice to have more of a breakdown of the red area, for example: 5-10%, 10-20%, 20-50%, and over 50%.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 2, 2012 9:24 a.m.

    JoeBlow
    Far East USA, SC
    VOR,

    "It could have something to do with the LDS Church being true."

    Of course it is true. Just like all the others :)
    -------------------

    While the Us vs. Them Mormons are jumping up and down,
    I for one was saddened by the overall decline of religion in general.
    That predicts moral decay of society better than how many Mormon stats, even with Non-Christians. Thank heavens Islam is growing!

    FYI – Utah Mormons; Zion, the New Jerusalem, will have Non-Mormons in it just as well.

    ===================

    Canyontreker
    TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    Wow, I am really surprised in the change to Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Florida.
    We lived in Seattle for 22 years.
    When we got there back in the 1980s, there was 1 Mission and 1 brand new Temple – the 1st in the Pacific NorthWest.
    When we left 3 years ago – there were 6 Missions, and 8 Temples covering the same area.

  • CTguy30 Colchester, CT
    May 2, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    JoeBlow:
    So why didn't the church die out when it was nearly bankrupt, old men left their families to preach, sold everything they had, didn't receive any formal training...
    Since this "sales force" was made up of farmers, in the early days of the church, who traveled with nothing but a few copies of the Book of Mormon in their satchels, no glitz, no glammer, no advertising, even at times when the church had not a penny to its name...why was it very successful back then as well? They must have had something that was deeply desired...one can wonder what would entice someone to sell their lands and properties to travel 1000's of miles, and risk illness and death to join up with a group that followed a prophet...funny thing is...these people who gave up everything to join the church...wrote in their journals that they found EVERYTHING upon joining the church.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    May 2, 2012 10:12 a.m.

    LDS Liberal wrote:

    "FYI – Utah Mormons; Zion, the New Jerusalem, will have Non-Mormons in it just as well."

    Are you certain of that?

    Once Mormons establish their world political "kingdom", D&C 1:14 says,  
     
    "and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people."

    Doesn't sound very tolerant to me.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    May 2, 2012 10:44 a.m.

    They don't keep good records if they don't remove inactive.

  • AZRods Maricopa, AZ
    May 2, 2012 10:58 a.m.

    joe blow, if the idea of sending out missionaries to preach the gospel to every nation, kindred tongue and people bothers you, then take it up with He who requested it. The New Testament sends that message to Christ's diciples and expects us to continue to spread his message today.
    And of course members of the LDS church believe it's true. Elsewise, why would you attend a church if you didn't believe it to be true?

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    May 2, 2012 11:29 a.m.

    Been led to believe when one sends a letter to LDS big whigs requesting one's name be removed from Church records, one's name continues on in the LDS rolls. Thus those incorrect numbers.
    "They" still call, want one to "come in" to discuss their unhappiness with "the Church. The calls, requests for interviews continue, ad nauseam.
    Please let go of all of us, Please!

  • ArmyofOne Bluffdale, UT
    May 2, 2012 12:31 p.m.

    They still count me, event though I left the LDS church years ago, and now serve as a pastor at a church here in Salt Lake. So I will have to agree that their reports are not true statements.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 2, 2012 12:42 p.m.

    @A Scientist
    Provo, UT

    LDS Liberal wrote:

    "FYI - Utah Mormons; Zion, the New Jerusalem, will have Non-Mormons in it just as well."

    Are you certain of that?

    Yes -
    Said Brigham Young by way of explanation:
    "If the Latter-day Saints think, when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth, that all the inhabitants of the earth will join the church called Latter-day Saints, they are egregiously mistaken. I presume there will be as many sects and parties then as now. Still, when the Kingdom of God triumphs, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of the Father. Even the Jews will do it then; but will the Jews and Gentiles be obliged to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? No; not by any means."

    Zion is the Pure in Heart,
    No Membership required.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    May 2, 2012 3:01 p.m.

    "The LDS Church is one of the fasted growing religions in the world" in countries where education levels are low, poverty is high, and access to information (such as the internet to look up the church) is practically nil.

    So yes it's growing .... but not here.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    May 2, 2012 3:14 p.m.

    Dang, I hope they call me on a mission someday!

  • Freedom for all SLC, UT
    May 2, 2012 3:50 p.m.

    What this story fails to mention is that LDS members are leaving in droves. Sociologists estimate that about 1 in 3 LDS members are active in church. Of the 14.5 million members that the church claims, only about 5 million are active, and church activity is on the decline pretty much across the board for most religions. Yes the church is gaining membership (meaning they keep baptizing people) but the fact is only 1 in 3 people are sticking around.

    So the question is, what is it that these people know or have learned or are in the process of learning that is driving them to leave the church? I know many people who were very devout, served missions, married in the temple, raised kids, then BAM they leave the church and cut ties with the church that they once loved and cherished and gave years and years of service and loyalty to. So what is it that these people are discovering that's driving them out? In my eyes, it's less like 'substantial growth' and more like a black eye that the LDS church fails to mention, and that this article failed to mention

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    May 2, 2012 7:47 p.m.

    @ Freedom for all. I hate to break it to you but your assertions are grossly exaggerated. Yes, there are a few who leave the church for whatever reason but that has always been true, even in the days of Jesus. Then again did you figure all the inactive Catholics or Protestants ?

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    May 2, 2012 8:22 p.m.

    If one truly believes 'narrow is the way ... and few there be that find it' one shouldn't be surprised that any Church loses members. The surprise would be in members not leaving.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    May 2, 2012 10:03 p.m.

    K posted: They don't keep good records if they don't remove inactive.

    And if we removed the inactive.... and they one day return to church and discovered they are no longer members..... What do you recommend we say?

    Jesus said something about leaving the 99 to find the one lost sheep. You think we should just toss them?

  • Kdee SLC, UT
    May 2, 2012 10:35 p.m.

    In other news: "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."

    Mormons in the US went from 1.85% of the population to 1.99%.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    May 3, 2012 7:37 a.m.

    The 45.5% growth that this study reported is false. In 2000, the church in the U.S. had a total of 5,208,827 members. In 2010, it had 6,144,582. That's a growth rate of less than 18%

    So what happened? The study said the church only had 4,224,026 members in 2000. Those were only the members in 2000 with known addresses. As-of 2000, the church had nearly a million members who had moved without giving the church a forwarding address, and thus weren't assigned to any ward or branch. To get 45.5% growth, those "address-unknown" members were not included in the 2000 count, but were included in the 2010 count.

    The Deseret News really ought to publish a clarification of this story.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    May 3, 2012 8:18 a.m.

    I'll say it again. LDS growth is mostly overseas in underdeveloped countries. Educated developed country's don't buy into it!

  • raybies Layton, UT
    May 3, 2012 9:28 a.m.

    Percentage growth is somewhat meaningless when base population isn't counted. If a church has one member, and adds two more in a year, that would be 200% growth! But it would also just be three whackos...

  • VocalLocal Salt Lake, UT
    May 3, 2012 11:35 a.m.

    Another newspaper is reporting that an LDS Church spokesman is now explaining that they reported numbers to this survey organization differently a decade ago (apparently a decade ago they didn't count every member ever baptized or born to LDS parents) than how they reported this last time (which this time included all members ever baptized or born into the Church still living except, as I understand from other sources, those they cannot track down are counted until they are 110). This has vastly distorted the figures to make the growth much larger than reported. So in this case not only are the figures different between other denominations but the LDS Church's own figures were reported differently in different years.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    May 3, 2012 11:39 a.m.

    "VocalLocal
    Salt Lake, UT
    Another newspaper is reporting that an LDS Church spokesman is now explaining that they reported numbers to this survey organization differently a decade ago (apparently a decade ago they didn't count every member ever baptized or born to LDS parents) than how they reported this last time (which this time included all members ever baptized or born into the Church still living except, as I understand from other sources, those they cannot track down are counted until they are 110). This has vastly distorted the figures to make the growth much larger than reported. So in this case not only are the figures different between other denominations but the LDS Church's own figures were reported differently in different years."

    Once again more distortion of the truth.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    May 3, 2012 12:47 p.m.

    LValfre

    Go look it up for yourself. Salt Lake Tribune. Today. The church admitted to using two different methods.

    Why would that then be a distortion of the truth? Sounds like pure truth to me.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 3, 2012 3:16 p.m.

    LDS Growth - Over Seas, out of the U.S. -
    meaning....

    Most Mormons are;
    Not from Utah,
    Not even Americans,
    and therefore, definately NOT Republicans!

  • Janet Ontario, OR
    May 4, 2012 12:00 a.m.

    About 30 years ago, I moved from California to New England; I was talking to a Jewish friend about my new surroundings. "We Mormons are really a minority in New England," I explained. "You always were [everywhere]," he replied. Since then I haven't been too impressed with statistics. We now number 14-million-plus in a world of 7 billion. Growing by a bit here and there gives us a warm feeling, but we're very much in the minority -- good motivation to do missionary work, bad motivation to boast.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    May 4, 2012 10:52 a.m.

    K
    Mchenry, IL

    "They don't keep good records if they don't remove inactive."

    So, what church removes their inactive? What are you comparing this too?

  • Cowboy Dude SAINT GEORGE, UT
    May 4, 2012 11:04 a.m.

    no fit in SG "They" still call, want one to "come in" to discuss their unhappiness with "the Church. The calls, requests for interviews continue, ad nauseam.
    Please let go of all of us, Please!

    This is a beef with your local ward not the Church. As Elders Quorum Presidency we called on the inactive to have them come in and tell the Bishop what they want to do with their records.
    We only had one come in and have his records removed, one in a family of six. Yet, he remains active in our scout program, no animosity.
    We had one couple ask not to be called again and remove their names over the phone. The request was expediently honored.
    We had six families that begged that the records not be changed. Three of them became active again and one moved away without their records and we don't know what to do with them.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    May 4, 2012 4:33 p.m.

    LDS Liberal,

    What's your point? It's not wrong to be LDS and republican. Sure, there are a some republicans and conservatives who feel their party or followings align more with LDS doctrines, but there are plenty of liberals and democrats who allow their political affiliations do the same thing.

    In labeling each other politically, are we not just separating each other? We should be finding agreement and common ground- not disagreement.