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Comments about ‘Religion census reveals substantial LDS growth’

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Published: Tuesday, May 1 2012 3:04 p.m. MDT

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VocalLocal
Salt Lake, UT

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

"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

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

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

@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

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

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

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

@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

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

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

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

"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.

VST
Bountiful, UT

@VocalLocal,

If, as you say, "LDS growth in the United States is essentially flat - neither growing [nor] shrinking," then why is the LDS Church building all of these new additional meetinghouses each year throughout the United States?

Ethan Yorgason
Daegu, Korea

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

@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

@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

JoeBlow,

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

:)

Ethan Yorgason
Daegu, Korea

@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

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".

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