Friday, 30 October 2009

Mormon Demographics That Don't Add Up

I have been looking at the inflated claims of Mormon demographics. Mormonism is a church that only tells good news. People join but no one leaves. They always grow, never plateau or decline. Their youth are “the best in the world.” They are always right about everything and when things do go wrong it is only in individual lives and their every solution always works – if you have enough faith. And they "continue to grow" - it is claimed. So how do the numbers stack?


In the April1980 Ensign, the LDS Church predicted that membership would grow from 4.6 million members at that time to 11.1 million members in 2000, and from 1,190 stakes to 3,600 in 2000. While the number of members came very close to the projected value (11,068,861 in Dec. 2000), there were 2,602 stakes worldwide at the end of 2002. That is a shortfall of 1000 significant sized units of the church! Why is that? The answer lies in activity levels.
Activity Level
Activity levels across the church typically break down as follows:

40-50% in Canada, US and South Pacific
35% in Europe and Africa
25% in Asia and Latin America

This gives us an average of 35% Worldwide

This means that the current official membership number of 13,508,509 breaks down like this:

35% equals 4.7m “active” members, that is Mormons who have any meaningful association with the church.

Only 50% of those will be ‘temple worthy’ which gives us a total 2.35m Mormons worthy enough to fill leadership roles. These will be the bishops, stake presidents, quorum presidents, Relief Society presidents, temple presidents, mission presidents etc.

The Mormon Church Boasts:

Everything that is done in the Church—the leading, the teaching, the calling, the ordaining, the praying, the singing, the preparation of the sacrament, the counselling, and everything else—is done by ordinary members, the “weak things of the world.”

We see in the Christian churches their struggle to fill the need for clergy. We do not have that problem. Once the gospel is preached and the Church is organized, there is an inexhaustible supply of faithful brothers and sisters who have that testimony and are willing to answer the call to serve. They commit themselves to the work of the Lord and live the standards required of them.

Members have had the Holy Ghost conferred upon them after their baptism (see D&C 33:15; 35:6). The Holy Ghost will teach and comfort them. They are then prepared to receive guidance, direction, and correction, whatever their position or needs require. (See John 14:26; D&C 50:14; 52:9; 75:10.

This principle sets the Church on a different course from all other Christian churches in the world. We find ourselves in the unusual position of having an endless supply of teachers and leaders, among every nation and kindred and tongue and people, all over the world. There is a unique equality among members. No one of us is to consider himself of more value than the other (see D&C 38:24–25). “God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34–35; see also Romans 2:11; D&C 1:35; 38:16). (Boyd K Packer Ensign, Nov.2007)

The reason for the shortfall in stakes is simply a significant shortage of “worthy” members to fill offices at stake level. This means that the members who came into the church over that 20 years from 1980 to 2000 to swell the numbers do suffer a dearth of leadership. Far from having an an “inexhaustible supply of faithful brothers and sisters who have that testimony and are willing to answer the call to serve”  the Mormon Church faces the same problems in filling the need for clergy as they drily observe as present in Christian churches.

Fastest Growing?

Convert numbers are going down steadily and significantly:

Converts: 1996 – 321,385
Converts: 2000 – 275,000
Converts: 2004 – 241,239

This last figure gives a paltry growth rate of 2-3% per. annum. Compare this with other churches:

SDA: 900,000 a year since 2000 (6-8% PA)
AOG: 10,000 per. day (241,239 per 24 days: 10% PA)

The number of Mormon missionaries in 1998 was 60,000 and this reflected a 35% growth in the 1990’s. In 2007 the number was 52,686, a 14% decrease in the first decade of the Millennium.

The number of Proselyting Hours per Convert is 300 and the number of member referrals previously accounted for 42% of convert baptisms in the USA and in 2000 that was down to 20%.

A Worldwide Church?

The Mormon Church makes much of the fact that more Mormons live outside the United States than inside (marginally at 51%). How do the numbers break down here?

USA: 5.5m
South America: 3.0m
Mexico: 1.0m
Central America: 0.5m
Canada: 175,000

That gives a total of just over 10million Mormons on the American continent. Of course there will be those who point out that that is not the same as the United States but what do you think of when someone says outside the USA? I tend to think of the world, which would include Europe (east and west), Asia, Africa, India and Australia; not insignificant socio-political areas. How many Mormons are there to go around in the rest of the world once we leave the Americas?

3.5 million

Given an activity level of 35% that leaves 1.225m “active” Mormons. Given a “worthiness” rate of 50% that gives us 612,500 Mormons capable of leading the Mormon Church in Europe, Asia, Africa, India, Australia.

Mormons work hard to press the idea that their religion is being furiously exported from Utah and the US but consider that the number of Mormons in Utah still stands at 1,752,467. That is 752,467 more than in the whole of Asia (1m), more than half the number in the whole of the South American continent (3m), seven times the number in the whole of the African continent (250,000) and almost four times the number in Europe (.5m)

If Utah was a continental entity the only area with more Mormons would be the South American continent. If Utah was a country the only country with more Mormons would be the USA. It would look like this:

USA: 5.5m
S America: 3m
Utah: 1.75m
Mexico: 1m
Asia: 1m
C America: .5m
Brazil: 970,000
Argentina: 355,000

Mormonism UK

How does this work in the UK? What are the numbers here?

Members: 180,095

Active members (35%): 63,033

Temple Mormons: 31,516

The 2007 church Almanac, based on the gross figure of 180,095 gives Mormons as .24% of the population, or 1 in 404. However, working on the more realistic (and honest) figure of active Mormons, in a population of 62m that makes Mormons some .001% of the population; that is 1 in 984.

Mormonism is an American religion whichever way you look at it and when it comes to numbers it is well to remember the old adage that there are lies, damned lies and statistics.