The Mormon asymptote?

…compared to some other religions, Mormonism is not doing too badly.  Mormonism’s US growth rate of .75 percent in 2017 — kept in positive territory by still-higher-than-average fertility among Mormons — is actually somewhat enviable when compared to, for example, the once-thriving Southern Baptists, who have bled out more than a million members in the last ten years.  Mormonism is not yet declining in membership, but it has entered a period of decelerated growth.  In terms of congregational expansion, the LDS Church in the United States added only sixty-five new congregations in 2016, for an increase of half a percentage point.  In 2017, the church created 184 new wards and branches in the United States, but 184 units also closed, resulting in no net gain at all.

By some estimates (p.7), only about 30 percent of young single Mormons in the United States go to church regularly.  The idea of the Mormon mission, however, is rising in import:

More than half of Mormon Millennials have served a full-time mission (55 percent), which is clearly the highest proportion of any generation; among GenXers, 40 percent served, and in the Boomer/Silent generation, it was 28 percent.

In contrast, “returning to the temple on behalf of the deceased” is falling (p.54).

Mormons are about a third more likely to be married than the general U.S. population, 66 to 48 percent.  But note that 23 percent of Mormon Millennials admit to having a tattoo, against a recommended rate of zero (p.162).

And ex-Mormon snowflakes seem to be proliferating.  For GenX, the single biggest reason giving for leaving the church was “Stopped believing there was one church”.  For Millennials, it is (sadly) “Felt judged or misunderstood.”

That is all from the new and excellent Jana Riess, The Next Mormons: How Millennials are Changing the LDS Church.

Oxford University Press also sent me a copy of J. Brian O’Roark Why Superman Doesn’t Take Over the World: What Superheroes Can Tell us About Economics, which I have not yet read.

Comments

Makes me sad, the vitality of the LDS church is definitely decreasing. But there's no way to go back, gotta find a way through.

One thing is that mormons believe very strongly in the 2nd coming and all the prophesies are that it is "soon", which I think will start affecting membership sometime in the next couple decades.

It all went downhill after they DNA tested some Indian tribes to see if they were a lost tribe of Israel.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetics_and_the_Book_of_Mormon

Anybody notice that followers of Gulen, the Muslim preacher that Erdogan keeps pressuring the US to extradite, are like the Muslim version of Mormons? They preach a more modern, moderate but still socially conservative Islam with an emphasis on education and service. Their followers all became highly educated professionals and ended up in influential positions in law, business, government, military, and civil society. So much so that Erdogan's presidency felt threated by them and had them all arrested.

Tyler has long tipped his admiration for Mormon culture, without ever really commenting on the Church’s religion.

As a member who joined as a young adult, I then spent most of my life only loosely affiliated with the religion. My adult children remained ever active, and my youngest son is just finishing a two-year mission in Europe. You can imagine his conversion rate is just as low as anyone who follows religion on the continent would expect it to be. But I think his mission has successfully converted himself, and I am certain it has reconverted me.

I think too many people (especially the kinds of bright, learned people who populate this MR comment section) underestimate the powerfully positive role that organized, shared-belief systems have in the lives of their practitioners, regardless of your (or their!) faith in the substance of those beliefs.

As an aside (and given Tyler’s propensity for injecting “also-see-this” links as wry commentary on his posts), I have come to deeply respect the everyday superhero’s who run the Church from top to bottom, both men and women, flawed but undaunted. They harbor no illusions the gospel of Christ will “take over the world” but rather, only that He lives, He loves, He leads, and we all once willfully followed Him. Ask them yourself, and you’ll find they believe the world is His stage already, and we are merely players.

Why do religious people assume non-religious people are pig-ignorant when it comes to religion as a sociological device? Because that's literally all we see it as.

mebbe its not" pig-ignorance "
as much as poor reading comprehension skills on ur end
because the first commenter used the phrase
"underestimate the powerfully positive role..."
in what world does "underestimate" = "pig-ignorant"?

You clearly don't speak Mormon, which is one of the most passive aggressive dialects of American English. If they say you are underestimating, then yes they are calling you pig-ignorant. But bless your heart!

one many of the intellectually dishonest/ aspects of sociology
is how toxic sociololgists try to change the meaning of words and phrases and think nobody will notice
Biologists notice

Is there anything these Millenials won't destroy because their feelings got hurt? First capitalism, now God. These snowflakes worship the cult god of socialism. They will be in for a surprise.

hey angry guy, you forgot checkbooks. millenials destroyed checkbooks.

lol. cross-post MR comedy.

God is immune to any "destruction". If he isn't then he isn't God

Good. Religion is a literal tax in the form of tithing and personal time. So if they aren't getting their money's worth, it is better for both sides to go their separate ways. BTW, Tyler, did you just call them snowflakes? LOL. I see you picked up a few things from social media. I think excommunication from a community is a serious matter especially if you grew up with it so I personally wouldn't go as far as to call them that. Besides ex-Mormons are basically like the nice Mormons you know minus the subtle, creepy vibe the true believers sometimes give off. Good, dependable people are never snowflakes in my book.

The Mormon church had made it clear LGBT people are not welcome and excommunicates accordingly. I’m sorry but they are not snowflakes and Tyler’s comment trivializes legitimate grievances.

That is just not true. You should inform yourself before spilling out bs https://mormonandgay.lds.org/

The Mormon oligarchs will say that gay is OK (if, if, if...) to make non-gay Mormons feel less bad about their friends and family who are gay. It is not outreach to actual gay folks.

@JMCSF

I do not know if they do it, but props to them if they do. Too many religions are compromising on doctrine and it is steadily eroding them because of the implied fallibility of their teachings. In the cafeteria buffet of religions of the free world, anyone can make or find something that will accept them for who they are, which makes it look like subversive entryism when people insist that established religions change to suit them.

Ronny M,

Your words are the words of a hateful religious bigot. Be better than that.

Here's a random sampling of truth and science for you.

1. Americans spend more than 10% of their income on addictions like gambling, alcohol, and tobacco. Not to mention the added healthcare costs that come from some of those things.
2. Nassim Taleb - Religion is a form of tail risk insurance. https://medium.com/incerto/how-to-be-rational-about-rationality-432e96dd4d1a
3. Church attendance makes people happy. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990726070153.htm
4. Alcohol is poison. https://www.livescience.com/63420-alcohol-no-safe-level.html
5. Church going children go farther in school. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121101171948.htm
6. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live longer, on average, by between 5 to 10 years.

Let's sum up.
You: Hateful religious bigot.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Healthier, happier, more charitable, more service-oriented, better families, better lives, better everything

“Healthier, happier, more charitable, more service-oriented, better families, better lives, better everything”

What good is it to win the world if you lose your mind? Belief in invisible sky beings is the death of reason; I’d sooner hang myself than spout that kind of nonsense. Real, whole human beings face up to empirical reality, even when it’s difficult. It’s called “integrity”.

'Mormonism is not yet declining in membership'

There is actually a lot of dispute about this, but anyone familiar with maintaining a facade for their own purposes is unlikely to point out how that works in another context.

'The LDS Church does not release statistics on church activity, but it is likely that about 60 percent of Mormons in the United States and 70 percent worldwide are less active or inactive. Activity rates vary with age, and disengagement occurs most frequently between age 16 and 25. Young single adults are also more likely to become inactive than their married counterparts, and overall, women tend to be more active than men' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Less-active_Mormon There are also numerous online personal accounts of just how difficult it is to be officially recognized as no longer being a member of the church.

Essentially, what the LDS Church does is equivalent of having the Catholic Church declare everyone baptized in the Catholic Church remains a Catholic for the rest of their lives, regardless of what the baptized person says. And they only become non-Catholic when the Catholic Church agrees to that designation.

Correct. Unless a member is excommunicates, the member has to formally request that their name be removed from the Church records. The Mormon Church is very reluctant to do this and many people have found their initial request igorned or lost for whatever reason.

For context, those activity rates (and the sex ratio) are comparable with those of church attendance nationwide.

And I forgot for a moment that prior writes to deceive and confuse. Pew Research surveys actually put Mormon weekly attendance at around 80%, far in excess of any mainstream religion.

http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/attendance-at-religious-services/

Well, you are welcome to correct wikipedia, which was cited. There is a reason why I prefer actually citing sources, so as to at least allow one to see where deception and confusion may come from.

For example, does the Pew data make a distinction between less active or inactive Mormons? That being the first line from the wikipedia link - 'Less active and inactive are terms that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) use to describe someone who is not actively participating in the church, but who is still on church membership records.' It is fair to say those members who are not going to services regularly but are still counted as members are not part of that 80% attendance figure.

Hope that was not too confusing to understand in terms of the LDS Church - and that you understood what JMCSF wrote, which concerned membership numbers, not attendance-

And ex-Mormon snowflakes seem to be proliferating. For GenX, the single biggest reason giving for leaving the church was “Stopped believing there was one church". For Millennials, it is (sadly) “Felt judged or misunderstood.”

Talk about being complacent. It's only getting worse with the safe space generation. Any serious religion or philosophical outlook is judgmental.

You took the words too literally. Any church or grouping of people will always have nasty politics dressed in holier-than-thou virtue signaling. Groups do judge you often unfairly and hierarchies form. He's the clown. She's the flirt. He's the idiot. In a situation like that, you can only be happy for the freedom of association or unassociation as the case may be.

Prop 8 comes to mind in this regard - 'Training materials, presentation documents, and emails shared exclusively with the Daily Dot suggest even stronger ties between the Mormon Church and anti-marriage efforts than what has previously been alleged. After conservatives successfully passed Prop 8, a report from the Wall Street Journal claimed that the LDS Church provided volunteers and financial donations to the campaign. But the new materials suggest that the effort was directly supervised by members of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, its highest leadership board.

“This was not known concretely before,” ex-Mormon Ryan McKnight, who founded MormonLeaks last year, told the Daily Dot. “I was always given the impression that it was more of a local effort sanctioned by the top brass without them being directly involved.”' https://www.dailydot.com/irl/mormon-church-gay-marriage-prop-8/

Basically, this is one of the largest areas of differences between all those snowflakes who don't care about people being gay, and the older people who seem obsessed with hatred whenever anything related to homosexuality is discussed.

Oddly, you would think libertarians would be on the side of the snowflakes, but then, does anyone consider Prof. Cowen anything but a LINO at this point?

clockwork_prior,

We, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are repeatedly commanded to love everyone. The headline on Mormon and Gay (https://mormonandgay.lds.org/) says "God Loveth His Children."

But just for fun I will play by your rules. I'm not saying this, I'm just showing you what you sound like. Here goes.

clockwork_prior is a hateful bigot because they think differently from me. This person is obsessed with hatred whenever anything related to church is discussed. clockwork is pretty much a fascist, by the way, demanding that everyone think like them. Let's call it what it is: obsession and bitterness.

Well, considering that all I did was actually quote a sourced article providing details, let us try this rewriting - 'clockwork_prior is a hateful bigot who provided a link to factual information concerning a political campaign, with funding provided by those that think differently from him. This person is obsessed with providing citations whenever anything related to facts is discussed. clockwork is pretty much a free thinker, by the way, demanding that no one needs to think like him. Let's call it what it is: obsession and bitterness.'

Hope that helps.

Mormons (and conservatives generally) are the biggest snowflakes. They'll to cause all manner of offense and expect the world to deal with it. When someone in the world says "you're an asshole" the Mormons start sniveling about persecution.

Ah, the great power of asymptotes in an exponential world. If only those Africans can get over the curse of Cain.

Hey, at least the LDS Church recognized that Africans and those with black skin actually have the same souls as everyone else - in 1978.

'As early as 1908, a church publication stated that blacks could not receive the priesthood because their spirits were less valiant in the pre-existence. Church leaders used this explanation until 1978, when Kimball publicly refuted it; later church leaders have called the explanation a folk belief. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young reasoned that black skin was a result of the Curse of Cain or the Curse of Ham. They used these Biblical curses to justify slavery. Young believed the curse made black people ineligible to vote, marry white people, or hold the priesthood. Successive church presidents continued to use the Biblical curses to justify excluding black men from priesthood ordination and excluding black men and women from the Church's temples. The racist theories that black skin was a curse or mark of inferiority were not officially contradicted until 2013.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_people_and_Mormonism

Or 2013, a quarter century after 1978, depending on how charitable wants to be.

Just like their renunciation of polygamy, they give in at the last moment when they have no other hope of turning back the tide against them.

Of course, to Tyler, religion is just instrumental. The actual beliefs mean nothing. His beliefs are as anti-ethical to religion as atheism, but he can pretend anything he wants without any need for consistency. As long as it increases GDP and decreases things he doesn't like, such as alcohol consumption.

Religion is really just his way accepting anti-Libertarian beliefs while still getting to call himself Libertarian, after all he is in favor of freedom of religion.

you say
"Of course, to Tyler, religion is just instrumental. The actual beliefs mean nothing."
bold claim on ur part
do you have any proof of your bold claim?

Well, maybe what Prof. Cowen has written?

You can read what he wrote here, and make up your own mind, though it is not the only place where he talks about the subject, of course - https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/05/dont-believe-god.html

your link is a pretty nuanced and objective
approach to the subject and does nothing
to support the assertion that
"religious beliefs mean nothing"

My link is to what Prof. Cowen wrote, including this - 'That all said I do accept that religion has net practical benefits for both individuals and societies, albeit with some variance. That is partly where the pressures for social conformity come from. I am a strong Straussian when it comes to religion, and overall wish to stick up for the presence of religion in social debate, thus some of my affinities with say Ross Douthat and David Brooks on many issues.' These words rest purely on an instrumental position, as Prof. Cowen starts by stating he does not have any religious beliefs, at least in the sense of believing in god(s).

One can debate what religion means endlessly, of course, but if someone does not believe in the actual foundation of faith that a religion rests on, then it is completely fair to write 'The actual beliefs mean nothing' if one is talking about a fundamental belief in god(s) and what follows from that belief.

And of course, religion distinguishes itself from philiosophy precisely on this point, For example, to stick with the Mormons, not on DNA analysis or any historical or archeological evidence, but on gold plates written in reformed Egyptian, which were returned to the angel Moroni after Smith's translation work was done.

I believe it is fair to say that Prof. Cowen does not believe in gold plates written in reformed Egyptian, which were handed to an angel. Whether he believes in the effectiveness of Mormon strictures against alcohol is not due to his belief in the religious origin of the LDS Church's various strictures.

senor tiktock
how exactly does
"that all said I do accept that religion
has net practical benefits …."= religious beliefs mean nothing"?

more bonesaw?
today in hiphop news
https://www.hotnewhiphop.com/gilbert-arenas-blasts-khloe-kardashian-says-her-pu-y-trash-news.73351.html

Let me simply repeat the final paragraph you seem to have skipped - 'I believe it is fair to say that Prof. Cowen does not believe in gold plates written in reformed Egyptian, which were handed to an angel. Whether he believes in the effectiveness of Mormon strictures against alcohol is not due to his belief in the religious origin of the LDS Church's various strictures.'

Basically, Prof. Cowen cares nothing about those beliefs that Mormons consider religious, but he does agree with a policy of not drinking alcohol, regardless of whether he believes in any 'religious' belief involving the LDS Church at all. Pretty much demonstrating the point that for Prof. Cowen '= religious beliefs mean nothing"' unless they serve an utilitarian purpose that Prof. Cowen supports.

Panshot!
mebbe you missed the middle part?
"I...overall wish to stick up for the presence of religion in social debate...."
this sentence is also not consistent with the assertion that religious beliefs mean "nothing"

'this sentence is also not consistent with the assertion that religious beliefs mean "nothing"'

Of course it is. Unless you wish to claim Prof. Cowen is a hypocrite. Religion, to get into the definitional side that bogs down quickly, is a human social activity, one apparently independent of any particular religious belief. Religious belief is what any single religion bases it practices on. Prof. Cowen finds the social framework of religion useful in an utilitarian sense, while not actually having any religious beliefs at all. For example, he does not believe in any single Mormon religious tenet such as angels, gold plates, Jesus coming to North America, etc. (unless he is a very recent convert, of course), but he feels there are utilitarian aspects of Mormonism that are useful. That being the point Trevor Adcock was apparently making.

Religion - a human institution that exists without reference to any universal religious belief.

ur def. of relgion-a human institution that exists without reference to any universal religious belief.

the dictionary def of religion- a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects:
the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices:
a world council of religions.
the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.:
to enter religion.
the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience:
to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

as the big yellow bird sang-one of these things is not like the other

So, all of those definitions seem to rest on believing in tenets of a religion. Prof. Cowen does not believe in any religious tenets, but he does feel that the social institution that is encompassed by the term religion (such as definition 2) is useful. Even though he does not actually believe in the fundamental set of beliefs of that religion.

This discussion can go on forever, and it why I avoided it. Basically, the faithful have a different relationship to religion than the non-faithful, as the non-faithful see nothing in religion but just another human institution. One of greater or lesser utility, as noted in the link by Prof. Cowen.

Trevor Adcock,

You are a hateful religious bigot. Try being better than that, if it is possible.

As somone who was raised in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_and_abominable_church . I take offense to religious bigots like yourself.

'Any serious religion or philosophical outlook is judgmental.'

Tell that to the Buddhists. Assuming they meet your standards for being serious, of course.

How pathetic do you have to be to go around bashing people's faith in a message board? Do tell.

Apparently not pathetic enough to care in the least about strengthening or weakening a brand, or whether someone writes 'clockwork_prior sounds like a hateful religious bigot, as usual.'

Though it would appear you think Buddhists would be insulted by being called non-judgmental, which has just provided another bit of amusement in what has turned out to be one of the more fun times spent in this comment section - admittedly, the WFMU fundraising program has been pretty entertaining too.

Superheroes are two busy having angst about being a superhero to have time to take over the world.

I miss the days when superheroes were pure good. The Dark Knight Returns should have been a one-off, rather than the basis for all superhero stories that followed.

Snowflake-y, angsty heroes like Batman, Wolverine, or Daredevil are way more interesting than boring, one dimensional ones like Superman or Captain America.

Almost all religion is dying because only one religion is true. The Truth is Jesus Christ and His church is The Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints. This true Church continues to grow and prosper, as all biblical prophecies are now being fulfilled.

I was not born in the Church. I am a Jewish Catholic Protestant Latter-day Saint. I still attend many non-LDS churches. My journey to the true Church was a long and very carefully considered one, but the evidence collected is overwhelming.

Mormons are different because they follow the Truth. Please consider investigating the claims yourself. If God sees that you are ready for the Truth, it will come to you, even as is it came to me after many years of searching.

I'd like to investigate for myself whether the Golden Plates were properly translated.

It is exceedingly difficult to find a reformed Egyptian dictionary, though who knows, maybe an amphibian will guide you to one after many years of searching.

Then you will need the angel Moroni to hand you Smith's golden plates, but that should not be any harder than finding the dictionary.

clockwork_prior is a pathetic religious bigot. Feel free to ignore his hateful posts.

And not only that, clockwork_prior is a pathetic communist bigot who mocks 'Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.' Feel free to ignore his hateful posts.

Don't worry, This Guy, there are all sorts of 'bigotry' I enjoy, and will make sure to highlight them, just to make your life ignoring what I write even easier.

" I am a Jewish Catholic Protestant Latter-day Saint. "

Scientology Latter-day Saints would be very interesting to see.

Really glad to see Jana's research here. She has a real knack for seeing unusual links in religion and culture. She's also the only person who translated every chapter in the Bible to a tweet of 140 characters or less. And no, I don't work for her, but I'm guessing not many people in our field read Tyler's blog.https://janariess.com/twible/

And what field are you in? She’s not well respected in religious studies; almost no research. Much more of a journalist. She’s comes across as a mormon Maureen Dowd

Per church meetings, there’s an inflection point in activity rates among LDS single adults—when ‘young single adults’ transition to new congregations as ‘single adults’ at the age of 31. Apparently, it’s about a 20% drop.

Given that many Millennials are still below that friction point (31), the overall numbers provided will surely decline by at least a handful of points more in the next eight or so years. At least per this snowflake Mormon’s estimate, fwiw. 👀❄️😆😎

If you're interested in Why Superman Doesn't Take Over the World, check the video review at Market Power.

https://youtu.be/nYISS1nTrvA

Compared to the Catholics, Baptists, and Evangelicals, the Mormons have a lot to recommend them. They tend to have a strong work ethic, are entrepreneurial and tend to excel in business and technology. Compared to the former, they seem to actually enjoy the family-oriented lives they live. They also tend to have personally healthy lifestyles compared to the others. I know there are funky aspects to Mormon theology. However, on a practical level, I find Mormons to be a far more functional people than the other aforementioned religious groups. I greatly value rationality and functionality.

I find Mormons to be a far more functional people than the other aforementioned religious groups.

Sayeth the man who fancies 'Baptists' and 'evangelicals' are exclusive categories.

For Millennials, it is (sadly) “Felt judged or misunderstood.”

No, they didn't, because latter-day clergymen are people-pleasers, almost to a man. (Well, I'm told by evangelicals that father's day sermons will feature references to "Cat's in the Cradle"; the person being judged and misunderstood in that case ain't the juvenile).

Surprised you didn't list the number of ex-Mormons citing "realized that Joseph Smith was a con artist and he made it all up".

Hateful religious bigot.

In so, then are people who think scientology is a crock.

Interesting how a factual positive mention of a religion brought out both decent endorsements, plus quite a bit of anti-Mormon bigotry on display in the comment section here.

At least most people who read MR regularly will take clockwork_prior's comments as a strong endorsement of the religion. Most anything the political left has to say about Mormons recently are statements they'd vote to remove freedom of speech protections for if anyone said them about Muslims, despite Mormons being the GOP constituency most cautious about Trump, their perceived arch-enemy.

The "othering" inter-group dynamics are fascinating.

'are statements they'd vote to remove freedom of speech protections for if anyone said them about Muslims'

At least most people who read MR regularly will know that I am a fierce advocate of the 1st Amendment, completely rejecting any basis for attempting to create hate speech as a crime, regardless of who says what.

In other words, let me bring up one of the more appalling parts of Muslim tradition from the Hadith - '“The Hour will not begin until you fight the Jews, until a Jew will hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will say: ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah, here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him – except the gharqad.' That is frankly disgusting, and it is odd how rarely even fierce critics of the way Islam presents itself as a peaceful religion quote from this sick revenge fantasy (Mohammed seemingly found Jews opposing him/rejecting him as a prophet enraging).

Hateful religious bigot. This brand is not going to wash off of you for a long time buddy. Keep it up.

'This brand is not going to wash off of you for a long time buddy.'

You really seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what 'brand' means, especially on a 'message board.' A term that would seem to mean you are either pretty young or pretty old, but likely not within a couple of decades of my age. If you weren't so busy ignoring what I write, you could read some of my posts in the past about privacy on the Internet.

'Keep it up.'

Well, here is a SEO tip - keep your google bombing consistent. This sounds pretty good, by the way, and is the text I like to re-use - 'clockwork_prior is a pathetic religious bigot. Feel free to ignore his hateful posts.'

And as you can see, I am actually enjoying keeping this up - it is rare that someone makes themselves so easy to toy with. Please don't stop on my account.

"Mormonism is not yet declining in membership"

Probably true but it will be difficult to identify whether this changes. In recent years there has been a massive wave of people formally requesting their names be removed from the Church's records. This is a result of the combination of the Church's LGBT stances, its treatment of women, it's handling of child sex abuse by Church leaders both local and national, increased availability of evidence about the Church's true history, and increased availability of evidence contradicting the Book of Mormon's historicity. But the point is that people, particularly young, educated people, are increasingly leaving the Church formally rather than just lapsing in participation. The Ex-Mormon Reddit has over 100,000 subscribers, many of whom have requested name removal, and the Church recently outsourced and industrialized their name removal bureaucracy by passing it off to their law firm, Kirton & McConkie. It is a major crisis for the Church, and while leaders of course won't comment directly on it, "doubters" are now the topic of almost every worldwide broadcast by Salt Lake leadership--and the broadcasts are designed not to bring the doubters back but to convince non-doubters that the doubters are stupid and/or evil.

I think we do not know how the Church handles these name removals in its official published statistics, and of course it only publishes total membership, not attending membership. So if membership growth stops or goes negative as a result of name removers, it's not clear whether we'll actually know.

I'm very suspicious of any religion's stats concerning membership: do they properly account for people who leave? How many "Mormons" are out there who haven't seen the inside of an LDS meeting hall in years and have no desire to?

Well, the real measure is the number of wards. Wards have a minimum and maximum of people to function. Too few and you have empty classes, too many and the Bishop is unable to meet every family. The number of wards stayed the same, so it is safe to say that the number of churchgoers at least stayed the same. The Church will not spend money on keeping "Potemkin Wards" open just for appearances.

I'm an exmormon who was deeply interested in meeting and befriending other exmormons in Utah when I lived there between 2011 and 2017, during the height of what former LDS Church Historian Elder Marlin Jensen called one of the greatest periods of apostasy since the 1830s. I met hundreds of Millennials that left the LDS church, and most of them said that they left after finding information about church history and doctrine on the Internet that they could not square with their beliefs. Exmormons cited to me their discoveries on MormonThink and CESletter.com far more as their reasons for leaving than because they felt misunderstood. The LDS religion preaches love and charity way too much for simple "judginess" to be the outstanding factor for the departure of its members. Anyone who went to a Single's Ward before those were broken up in 2017 would know the LDS tried extremely hard to make Mormonism as welcoming and fun for Millennials as they could without breaking established doctrine. There were barbecues, party games, scavenger hunts, speed dating, group hikes... the list of recreational activities went on and on. Ward calendars were full of great reasons to stay faithful. The 10% tithe on Millennial members was paid back many times over. For most young exmormons in Utah, deconversion meant paying a price: social exclusion from some truly amazing communities and families by American standards. At least in Utah, that cause-and-effect almost never worked in the reverse order for exmormons... except in the case of our LGBTQ fellows.

Of course, a large contingent of the exmormon community consists of former queer members, or people who left because they didn't want to be associated with intolerance against this group when they were making historic achievements in gaining acceptance in mainstream America. I believe this is what's driving up that "snowflake" answer more than anything, Dr. Cowen. Yes, Mormons are taught to love the sinner and hate the sin. They'll welcome anyone into their church services. But, if you're among Latter-day Saints in their sacred spaces and as a man you kiss your boyfriend, or as a transwoman wear a dress... beware, my friends. Mormon men in suits are on their way over to make sure the kids don't see what the heathens like to do. And if you're a teenager who comes out as LGBTQ to Latter-day Saint parents who are on the more conservative side of the faith spectrum, good luck. The Utah exmormon community had to adopt many of these brave souls who were disowned by their parents on the spot because they wouldn't conform, and forced directly out of their homes onto the street. Others were beyond our ability to help transition to life after Mormonism, and they committed suicide. The graph from the Utah Department of Health below helps illuminate the severity of the problem in those years. While the LDS Church leadership has tried to steer its members towards tolerance and "Christian love" for non-heteronormative crowd, well, they still preach that crossdressing is a sin, that your gender should match your sex, and that God's not cool with homosexual partnerships or activity. It can be very stressful for anyone who finds that they are attracted to those behaviors, so much that the University of Georgia found that 70% of queer Mormons exhibit the symptoms of PTSD (cited below).

There's lots of great things about the Latter-day Saints to say, and in this comment thread, they've been said. However, in this apostate's humble opinion, much more can be done by the church leadership to stop dishing out harmful ideas. I'd love to see Mormonism move in the direction taken by Reform Judaism. Keep the identity and community part of the religion, leave behind the bits that break up families. I expect God and most LDS folks would sigh in relief when that day comes.

- http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kuer/files/styles/x_large/public/201807/072518_suicide.jpg
- https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4617640-Simmons-Brian-W-201712-Phd-2.html

All, Always: Be Love and Live as God

I have learned this simple undeniable principle since joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about two years ago after researching hundreds of churches since my son died.

Do your own research. God is alive and working daily miracles in the lives of those who follow His son, Jesus Ohrist.

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