Saturday, May 05, 2012

How did Mormons grow so fast? They changed how they counted

Mormons use the same member counting method that Roman Catholics do, once a Mormon, you will forever be counted as a Mormon.

SALT LAKE CITY — If you suspected the newly released U.S. Religion Census overstated the Mormons’ growth rate, you were right. That’s because, this time around, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints changed the way it reported its membership to the researchers.

The once-a-decade study was assembled by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, which included self-reported data on adherents for 153 participating bodies.

Its report pegged U.S. Mormon growth at 45.5 percent, jumping from 4.2 million in 2000 to 6.1 million in 2010. The 2000 figure, however, was much lower than the 5.2 million listed in the LDS church’s own almanac for that year. If researchers had been given that figure, the percentage of growth would have been considerably smaller, closer to 18 percent.

The LDS church also supplied smaller Utah membership numbers to the state — figures government officials use for planning.

Here’s how the LDS church explains the discrepancy between the 2000 Religion Census figure and its own almanac for the same year.
“Total (LDS) Church membership numbers are derived from those individuals who have been baptized or born into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” spokesman Scott Trotter said Wednesday (May 2). “They are neither projections nor estimates.”
The LDS church does not remove any name from the list unless the person is excommunicated, asks to be removed or is dead. That means that a large number of members remain on the rolls who no longer attend or even consider themselves to be Mormon.

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