Share This Episode
Viewpoint on Mormonism Bill McKeever  Logo

Declining Growth of the Church Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
February 16, 2021 8:17 pm

Declining Growth of the Church Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 662 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

February 16, 2021 8:17 pm

This week we consider the numbers of convert baptisms from 1990 through 2019, as the church has steadily decreased in percentage growth each decade. We encourage you to visit an article with graphs (referenced in the shows) by clicking

Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson
Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick
Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick
Alex McFarland Show
Alex McFarland

Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM.

As we mentioned earlier this week, there was an article back in 1998, May 23 to be specific. It was written by Lee Davidson, who was a Washington correspondent, and it was found in the Deseret News, titled, LDS Church Growing at Warp Speed, sociologists says. And it told the story of Rodney Stark, who is not a Latter-day Saint, by the way, who had predicted that the Church, based on the growth rate at that time, would skyrocket to 267 million members by 2080. As we've mentioned in this series, we are very curious, as a ministry, to hear what the new statistics are going to be when the LDS Church holds its General Conference this coming April. Obviously, we don't expect the convert baptism rate to surpass past years because of the pandemic of 2020. There was not a lot of personal contact between those that are missionaries for the Church, because we know that it is through missionaries that a lot of people do come to the Church. Now, I might mention that many times it's not because the missionaries were the initial contact, it's sometimes that they are handed off a potential convert from someone who was a member of the Church.

And you could say that the missionary got the credit for the convert when really that wasn't totally true. But we're looking at some of the numbers regarding the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And certainly, the Church is not growing at warp speed, as Rodney Stark predicted many years ago. There was an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, it came out on January 16th, 2021. The headline read, Salt Lake County keeps losing Latter-day Saints. And there was a quote in there by a man by the name of Patrick Mason, who's described as the head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University. He was cited as saying, we know that there continues to be an exodus from the Church.

That doesn't surprise us. I do find it interesting though, Eric, that this man, Patrick Mason, is speaking from Utah State University. Now, remember back in 2012, we need to go back to 2012, when the story broke, it was an article titled, Mormonism Besieged by the Modern Age.

It was an article written by Peter Henderson and Christina Koch. And it started off by saying, a religious studies class 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 Marlon Jensen were openly troubled about the future of their church asking hard questions.

One of the questions that was asked was by a woman. And this report in this article said, did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know that members are leaving in droves? And Marlon Jensen concurred with that. He said that they were aware.

It says, we are aware, said Jensen, according to a tape recording of his unscripted remarks. So we knew back in 2012, there was trouble in the LDS Church when it comes to retaining members. And of course, that would also reflect in gaining new members. Because the question then becomes, well, why were people leaving? They were leaving because of information they were finding out about the church that caused them concern. Probably information that they had originally been told by local leaders, perhaps that were just vicious rumors and lies by enemies of the church that they started to see were not really lies at all. And so we do know that the church has been losing members. And the question is, is why are they losing these members? And how is that going to reflect when the church puts out its new statistics in April of 2021? The church does not publicly announce or post the statistics of those who willingly leave the church or even unwillingly for that matter. But they do like to talk about how much they've grown over a given year. And there are certain categories that the church has for showing those numbers.

What are those categories? We talked about it earlier this week, Eric, but let's refresh our listeners' memories on this. So they're going to tell us the first week of April about how many stakes, missions, districts, wards, and branches there are. The current membership number, as we talked about that, is probably the most important number we're looking for. New children of record and baptized converts. And as we said yesterday, a child of record is someone under the age of nine who's received a blessing. And they receive a temporary member number, actually.

They actually get that number. And then when they get baptized, that gets confirmed. And so that gets added into the rolls as a child of record.

We should mention this again, folks, because this is important. If a young child in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, let's say who has Mormon parents, is baptized between the age of eight up to the time they turn nine. They are considered a child of record. If they wait and are baptized at the age of nine or older, that is considered to be a convert baptism.

Now think about that. Does that make a lot of sense to you? Because it certainly doesn't make a lot of sense to us. You would think that between the age of eight and nine, living under the shelter of Mormon parents, they probably really didn't convert at the age of nine. Convert from what? And we have to understand that about one hundred thousand per year are children of record. And so how many children are getting baptized between nine and seventeen and are counted as converts? But we don't get those numbers in the official church number. And then also we're going to learn about missionary totals, both full-time as well as church service. And finally, temples that were dedicated or rededicated. And by the way, we're going to use a lot of numbers here today and tomorrow.

You might want to go to our website where all of this is written down slash declining growth with a hyphen between declining growth. But Bill, I want to talk about the information they don't give us. They don't talk about how many people died. So we don't know the deceased members who are taken off the church rolls. That number is not released, but they're also not releasing, as you mentioned, those who have officially left the church. Now, that would be a fascinating number because we have good reason to believe that more people have been leaving the church in recent years than ever before.

The last five years, the convert numbers are down. The church growth is down. And part of that, I think, as well, you're losing a lot of people. And we're not making that up, folks, because as I started off the show with this citation from Patrick Mason, head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, he told the Salt Lake Tribune, we know that there continues to be an exodus from the church. Now, I cited that article that came out in 2012, where Elder Marlon Jensen agreed that people were leaving in droves. He actually compared that to a time in Mormon history when people were leaving during the Kirtland era, when there were a lot of things going on in the Mormon church, causing many people to leave the church back then.

To make that kind of comparison is, to me, very telling, because when you go back and you look at that period in Kirtland and you see the number of people that were disillusioned with Joseph Smith and the LDS church, for Jensen to compare that to what was going on at that time in 2012, I think should catch the attention of a lot of people. In the article, I mentioned a secular organization called And what they have done for the past few years is help members resign their membership. But I want to point out that before this organization came, you had to actually submit paperwork to the church. They would have representatives come to your house and they would try to convince you not to leave the church.

They also might have leaders come and try to talk you out of it. And so many people were staying on the church rolls because they didn't want to have to deal with that. So this gentleman named Mark Naugle, who ended up leaving the church back when he was 15 years of age, his dad in the year around 2000, left the church and took the whole family out because of information they were finding on the internet, the very early days of the internet. And then Mark Naugle became a lawyer and he decided he would help his friends leave the church.

It kind of mushroomed. And between 2015 and 2019, he says that he helped 40,000 people get off the church rolls. Well, the church decided a photocopy of a license was not enough because there was fraud going on. So they said that any request would have to have a notarized statement rather than that photocopy of a driver's license. And yet again, they're making it harder to leave, or they're saying you ought to contact your church and then we can deal with it without having to go through a third party. Well, let me stop you there, Eric. Now, Mr. Naugle claims he's had about 40,000 people approach him over this.

Well, at this time, it would be a five year period. Yes. The church was claiming that you needed a notarized statement. In other words, they're going to make it a little more difficult for someone to use the services of this attorney, Mark Naugle, by having a statement that is notarized to move forward with getting their name taken off the rolls. How much fraud was there really though? I mean, the article mentioned, if I remember correctly, dozens.

What does that mean? Dozens? Compared to 40,000. Compared to 40,000.

Dozens seems rather insignificant. Now, I'm not saying that that probably wasn't a prudent move on their part to protect people from having their name removed who didn't want their name removed. Maybe someone could have used a fraudulent means to do that. The reason why I say that is because we understand how even with us, we get people who give us the names of Latter-day Saints to put on our mailing list. Even though we tell people, don't do that.

It costs us to put their name on there and it makes the Mormon mad when they would put on our mailing list and they didn't want our material. I understand that. So we ask people to basically use the honor system and not do that. It still happens though, folks, it still happens. And we apologize for that, but it's beyond our control. So I can kind of understand the Church wanting to ensure that less of that fraud, quote unquote, takes place.

I get that. But I don't think dozens compared out of 40,000 is a whole lot, but that's what the Church has now implemented. Tomorrow Bill, I think we should go through a chart that's on the website slash declining growth with a hyphen in the middle. And I would say, let's see how the Church has done in the last 30 years and then see how they would have done had they grown at even a 3% clip rather than the about 1.5% percentage growth that they've had in the last five years.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. As with most Christian organizations, Mormonism Research Ministry depends on the generous financial support of friends like you. If you like what we do and how we do it, would you consider helping MRM meet its financial obligations? Merely go to our website At the right, you'll see a donate button. Click there and follow the instructions. MRM is a Christian nonprofit 501c3 organization and your gifts are tax deductible. Not only that, they are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support of this ministry.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-24 07:37:32 / 2023-12-24 07:42:51 / 5

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime