Tuesday, August 8, 2017

LDS Membership and Government Census Data - Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Philippines, and Scotland

Several governments have recently conducted censuses in which information on self-identified religious affiliation is gathered. Below are a list of countries where there have been recent figures released regarding the number of people who identify as Latter-day Saint on the census. These are new figures that I have not reported before on this site or cumorah.com. Previous data regarding Latter-day Saints and census data can be obtained here. The year of this data was obtained is provided in parentheses after the country name. Moreover, the percentage of church-reported membership who self-identify on the census is provided in parentheses after the government reported number of Latter-day Saints.
  • Australia (2016): 60,864 (41%)
  • Canada (2011): 105,365 (57%)
  • Finland (2009): 3,239 (71%)
  • New Zealand (2013): 40,728 (36%)
  • Philippines (2015): 196,303 (27%)
  • Scotland (2011): 4,651 (17%)
Census data provide valuable information regarding member activity rates in the LDS Church as people voluntarily provide information about their current religious affiliation. It is interesting to note that many Latter-day Saints on church records not only do not regularly attend church but also do not even identify as a Latter-day Saint anymore. Based upon the small sample of countries with the number of self-identified Latter-day Saints reported by the census, there does not appear to be a correlation with secularism and self-affiliation of nominal Latter-day Saints on government censuses. 


MainTour said...

It would be interesting to see the number of districts and stakes in each of those six countries.

Melody Nelson Walden said...

You can find that information on cumorah.com. Select "countries" at the top of the page, then choose your country. Both the statistical profile, and the LDS international atlas will have information on stakes and districts.

Mike Johnson said...

Australia: 40 stakes and 8 districts
New Zealand: 30 stakes and 2 districts
Canada: 46 stakes and 2 districts
Scotland: 5 stakes
Finland: 2 stakes and 2 districts
Philippines: 99 stakes and 75 districts

James said...

The information covered both in this blog post and in the comments responding to it has been inspirational as always. Thanks for increasing my understanding of these subjects. It will be interesting, to be sure, to see what happens with Church growth going forward. I know that there are a lot of factors affecting Church growth, and I also know that the Church is doing significantly better in some areas of the world than it is in others. But I think part of the beauty of observing how that happens is in remembering that the Lord controls how and to what extent that growth is accomplished. For my part, I hope to find that the last four or five months of this year contain as much or more growth than these first seven or eight months have. Thanks again to you, Matt, and to all the rest of you for allowing me to be part of all of this discussion.

phxmars said...

Finland has a 70% rate of self reporting. That is impressive.

BYULAW said...

Completely off topic--I don't participate in LDS blogs apart from this one but I find myself wanting to discuss a matter and not sure that it is fully understood by myself or many in the church. I thought perhaps asking on a blog might be insightful to me and perhaps others who have had similar thoughts.
Regarding the now former General Authority Elder James J. Hamula's excommunication this week, I have seen many comments of support and love to this brother, which is absolutely appropriate and perfectly reasonable. However, I have seen articles discuss how the church maintains confidentiality of what actions excommunicated individuals committed in order to allow such persons the opportunity to repent and be rebaptized into the church. This has led many commenters to express hope that former Elder Hamula could repent and return to the church. It has been some time since I last reviewed this topic, probably since I last read Jesus the Christ, but according to D&C 76:31 and other teachings of our church, outer darkness is reserved for those who have a perfect knowledge of Christ and deny him. As a special witness of Jesus Christ, would Elder Hamula go to outer darkness if he were to choose not to repent?

Mike Johnson said...

It depends heavily on how the census is structured. Religion questions rarely go to everybody and there is usually a return rate that gets factored in. For example, Canada's National Household Survey in 2011 went to 1/3 of the households and 26% either did not return the form or returned the form but did not answer the religion question. Percentage rates are developed for those that respond and are then projected to the entire population.

They use trends from previous census to help shape the percentages to prevent the data from showing too significant of swings.

Workers processing the forms have to know responses of "LDS" or "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" or "Mormon" need to be collated together.

Especially in surveys that have to be projected to the rest of the population, breaking the population into groups of less than about a percent of the whole population can be skewed.

That said, these numbers are not surprising and could be accurate. A good rule of thumb is about 1000 active members for each stake. It usually takes about that number to trigger both whatever local criteria that might be applied to request a stake and for Salt Lake to accept it with their criteria. Active and some less active may answer.

Because of the processing required to manage the surveys and keep them coherent, it isn't quite as simple as the percent of members who reported themselves as LDS.

We have the issue of census reports coming in lower than our records all over the world, but we can explain this because people join the Church and then leave or grow up in the Church and then leave. The Catholics have the other issue where census reports tend to be about 10-20% than their records.

Unknown said...

I think the Scottish figures are flawed because the UK census encouraged all Christian denominations to choose the "Christian" category rather than specify a denomination. So the difference here is impacted by the method of data collection. See discussion here.


Mike Johnson said...

D&C 76:31 Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—

32 They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born;

33 For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;

34 Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—

I don't think Hamula denied the truth or defied God's power.

We don't know why he was excommunicated (we really don't know why in all cases). The only announcement I heard was that it wasn't for disillusionment or for apostasy.

He wasn't an apostle so he wasn't a special witness but somebody whose calling is to assist the Twelve.

Aaron and Kamyra said...

I struggle with the Australian stats because most wards I have attended in Australia in 4 states have an average attendance between 35-40% of total membership. There have been some exceptions but we have wards in my stake and others with 50-60% active. But from seeing the census results over the years the numbers seem to be consistent.

That leaves me to think that most less active members in Australia do not consider themselves LDS as they do not nominate on census as LDS. I would also think that the increase in membership since the last census is barely enough to cover the children born to active member families.

Matt, what are the number is the USA for self reported members?

DJarvis87 said...

People forget there are two sides to how the Church operates which is the Church membership and secondly actually working for the Church as an employee. Seventies often serve not only on a ministerial level but they're often directly employed by the Church earning a weekly wage where they're often responsible for one of the Church's organizational department for example Seminary and Institute. Not to get caught up in politics that goes on in working directly for the Church but there can also be circumstances where excommunication can occur where like the mismanagement of Church funds can result in excommunication and the termination of their employment with the Church. This is clearly stipulated in the Church's HR policy. I'm not making assumptions but obviously its not a scenario of call to repentance that you do with your Bishop.

BYULAW said...

Sorry--again off topic. If not interested feel free to not read my comments.
Thank you for your comment Mike. This topic is difficult to navigate, but I do find it intriguing. I don't mean to contradict your final sentence "He wasn't an apostle so he wasn't a special witness but somebody whose calling is to assist the Twelve", but perhaps slightly expand on it with D & C 107:25 which it states "The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling."
Boyd K. Packer expands on this by saying "The difference between especial and special is in the spelling, and it really does not mean anything more than that. To be a special witness of the name of Christ means that you have that witness and that authority that is unfailing, and it will be with you everywhere in the world." (reference: https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/the-twelve-and-the-seventy-part-three-witnesses-to-the-world?lang=eng). However, President Packer's comments are in context to what duties and functions a Seventy can perform with respect to the keys of their calling. It seems logical, as you infer, that those called to position of apostle may have something "additional" from those called as a seventy (e.g. perhaps having their calling and election made sure, or some other way in which their relationship with Christ becomes increased--speculative on my part). However, my understanding was that those called as Seventy are still considered special witnesses of Christ. What I am less confident in is whether a special witness is equivalent with having a perfect knowledge. Could one have a perfect knowledge without having their calling an election made sure?
One could perhaps contend that Elder Hamula suffered himself through the power of the devil to be overcome with whatever it was he did as is referenced in D&C76. However, you are correct we do not have any indication he has denied the truth or defied God's power. Although were Elder Hamula to fail to repent and become rebaptized, this failure to repent could arguably satisfy this requirement of denying the truth. I guess that part isn't for me to judge. I know my understanding of this topic isn't essential for salvation, which is why I am less knowledgable in it than other church doctrines. I apologize to anyone who feels I should not discuss such topics since much of it is speculative. I just strive to improve my knowledge of the topic as I do with other doctrines.

Michael Worley said...

I would give Elder Hamula as much space to repent as possible, whether or not he is in danger of outer darkness. Our prayers must be with him, and with the apostles who were surely pained to excommunicate him.

John Pack Lambert said...

The USA does not include religion as a question on the census so there are no comparable numbers of self-reported members to look at.

Some other issues need to be considered. One is how accurate census coverage is. Having studied past censuses I have seen a case where my great grandfathers sex was misidentified.

There is also a question of how fully the population is counted. Add to this the issue of last minute attempts to count people. This means asking neighbors if the census aims at being universal.

Beyond this there is the question of how well multi-faith households are identified. A few issues exist here. In many places most of the census is involved with mail out and mail in forms not door to door enumerators. This means one person often fills out the form for the whole household. They can easily impose their religious affiliation on the whole household with this process.

Lastly is the issue brought up before. To interpret this data accurately we need to see the exact question and the boxed and unboxed answers. Unless The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an explicit box option, than we should be hesitant to over interpret data. The exact wording of questions matters. For example on the US census studies have shown that if the 1970 wording of the are you Hispanic or Latino question had been used a higher percentage of the population would have identified as Hispanic or Latino presumabky because the 1970 question was phrased more as ancestry than being. How much those who rarely attend Church identify as LDS might differ depending on how one phrases a religion question.

Especially with the fact that Church members object to being called non-Christians some may just mark Christian if that is the easiest way to mark the forms.

Lastly we need to know are these numbers sample and extrapolated or gathered from the whole population. If the former than sampling errors and the fact that LDS statistics are whole population come into play. On the other hand if it is from the whole population we need to know things like how responses are coded and the like. What happens if a Catholic dad and Mormon mom mark their children as both Catholic and Mormon, even if the children have never been to mass and regularly go to LDS meetings? Such a procedure is possible in Scotland, but weather it would lead to multi-religious or generalized Christian coding is unclear.

Lastly no respnse is not always a sign of no religion. It might be a sign of form filler fatigue, of gaving just not felt that filling in that part of the form was worth the time, or other similar issues.

Nathanial said...

John, to answer one of your questions, because the date the Matt cited is Census data from the stated questions, the questionnaire would gone out to everybody. At the very least every attempt would be made to get a valid response for every purpose. As statistician I know you are correct about wording of questions. How questions are worded do affect the response received.

Ray said...

Nigeria has a year-to-date increase in wards and branches of 61 units from an 2016 year-end total of 500. This is + 33 wards and + 28 branches, or at an annual rate of approximately 20%.

Cote d'Ivoire has had a unit increase of 23 wards and branches from a year-end total of 182. This is also about 20% on an annual basis.

Sierra Leone ended 2016 with 55 wards and branches, but now is + 7 (+ 7 wards with a new stake and + 0 branches). This increase is also about 20% on an annual basis.

Ghana'a increase is 20 over a year-end total of 277, a slightly lower increase, but higher than its 2016 increase of 13.5%.

Overall, Africa has had a total increase so far this year of 140 wards and branches, whereas the Church as a whole has had a total increase of 141, so the overwhelming majority of unit growth is from Africa.

Utah is next at a +26 increase in wards and branches (+ 26 wards + 0 branches).

Brazil follows with a growth total of + 19 in 2017. Again, all the increase was in wards, with the total of branches unchanged.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Church has organized in Havana Cuba District Branch. This may indicate that there are multiple groups of the Church in Cuba. I am hoping we significant progress in Cuba in the near future.

I have known more Ghanaian church members than members from any other country in Africa. The number of Ghanaian Church members I have known is still only a little over 10, but it is the most. It is at least 8 actually from Ghana, and another 4 or so who were children of immigrants from Ghana. For both categories of Nigerian Church members I can only think of 3, and for South Africans it may come to 8, but I am including a woman who was technically Swazi, but joined the Church in South Africa, and her children, so I maybe should have a lower number. The count for Liberians is 3. Zambians 2 and Zimbabweans 1.

I actually can not think of missionaries I have known serving directly from any of thesre countries. Well, one person I knew from Zambia sort of counts, but I knew him at BYU. Even a missionary I knew who would say he was from Liberia actually was a refugee living in Chicago before he left on his mission.

I have known missionaries directly from the DR Congo and Uganda. Of the 4 Ghanaian missionaries I can think of who have served in the Detroit mission, 3 of them were born in the US.

Hmm, I just remembered some Nigerian church members I had known on my mission. Still I think it is safe to say I have known more Church members of Tongan descent than from any specific country in Africa.

The Church is growing very well in West Africa, and significantly in the DR Congo and South Africa and Zimbabwe and probably Mozambique. However even in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Ivory Coast Church members are still a minuscule part of the poupulation, and Nigeria has less than 2% of the world-wide LDS Church units (there are 30,000+ Church units, so 2% is 600 or a little more).

Bryansb1984 said...

I notice on ldschurch temples.com that Cuba got a 3rd branch Havana cuba district branch. I was wondering what is the difference between that branch and the Havana Branch.

OC Surfer said...

My understanding is that a district branch is an catch-all branch of anyone outside the boundaries of the two other organized branches. So they fall into the district branch.

Unknown said...

Recently a lot of acquaintaces of mine have receiving their calls to spanish-speaking countries. Though i'm not a big fan of the language, working in a recently open Cuba would be really exciting. Such a shame it's still probably taking some years to that.

Anyway, does anyone know where can i find recent data of seminary/institute enrollment by country? Thanks, everyone.

James said...

In regards to the subject of excommunication of general Church leaders and officers, it is a rare occurrence for that kind of thing to happen. In terms of historical context, it was Elder George P. Lee, another General Authority Seventy, who was last excommunicated, which happened in the early 1990s, and that was primarily due to his having taught the idea of Native American's superior status in the Church. Prior to Elder Lee's excommunication, Elder Richard R. Lyman, who, if reports about him are true, entered into an unlawful cohabitational relationship that was termed polygamous. The Church released a one-sentence statement following that excommunication saying that the reason for it was violation of the Christian law of chastity.

With these prior examples in mind, in regards to the most recent example (the excommunication of James J. Hamula), I want to note that I think it was very wise for the Church to make it clear that he was not teaching false doctrine and that the action taken in this case was not in any way due to disillusionment. The Church likely wanted to release this information in this way to shortcut gossip and false rumors, and to prevent the possibility of Brother Hamula going anywhere and trying to function in an authoritative role. The specifics are not important.

Having noted that, I did want to say that the principles of the gospel and the concept of the Atonement is such that there are only a few transgressions for which formal Church discipline may be needed. Off the top of my head, from what I have read, I know that teaching false doctrine, assuming authority and revelatory authority that one does not have (including asserting ones' own righteousness and assuming and advocating authority one does not have), and certain violations of the Lord's law of chastity are among those kinds of transgressions. Given the statement by the Church to the effect that this action in Brother Hamula's case was not due to teaching false doctrine or dissilusionment, that does narrow the options. At the end of the day, as with anything else, unless the Church or Brother Hamula chooses to provide more details, all that remains for us is to accept the information for what it is and to get back to living as faithfully as we can to avoid a similar case.

I hope no one is offended by this comment, and that some few of you have found it helpful. I appreciate all the comments that have been posted since my last comment here, and hope you all know how much I am inspired daily by my participation in the wide-ranging discussions on these threads.

For any who would like to, I welcome you to check out the latest posts I have done on my own blog, including one that will be posted there in a few minutes sharing the latest temple news. The link follows below. Thanks again to you all.


twinnumerouno said...

Slight quibble on details- I believe Elder Lee was excommunicated in 1989. (He was the first Native American general authority, and I believe at the time of his calling in 1975 was also the youngest GA, in his early 30's if I remember correctly.) As you say, James, I believe the previous instance, and the last time an apostle was excommunicated, was Richard R. Lyman. He was excommunicated in late 1943, only a few weeks after the calling of Spencer W. Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. I had forgotten the details of why.

James said...

You are right about the year in which Elder Lee was excommnicated, but I was only off by a fee years, so I'm not worried about that. Regarding Elder Lee, he was one of the youngest GAs at the time of his call. If memory serves, he was later charged for child abuse, though I cannot quite tecall whether or not the incident in question took place before his excommunication. Regardless of that, what happened with Elders Lyman, Lee and Hamula should remind us that though the leading brethren do their best to live the gospel, the temptiations and trials they face are no different from the rest of the membership, and that all of us need to do our level best to never yield to such inclinations. And for my part, I have seen an uncle serve as a bishop and later be subject to excommunication for infidelity. No one, not even the president of the Church is immune from Satan's influence. The real test for all of us is to never yield when we can help it, and to speedily repent and make amends when we do make mistakes. I don't know what Brother Hamula may have done in this case, as that is between him, his family, the apostles who acted on this matter, and the Lord Himself. For the rest of us, our best course of action is to pray for him to take the steps towards using the atonement to fox the issue and to return to full fellowship with us while we do our best to ensure that we are avoiding Satan's snares in our own lives.

Jim Anderson said...

There was more to the George P. Lee story, he was soon found to have been involved inappropriately with children for the which he was ultimately tried for and convicted in state court and did a long term in prison for it. A picture was shown by a psychologist who has interviewed a lot of prisoners, and most had at one time been lds, that picture was a jailhouse photo and by the time it was taken his hair had grayed, was long and unkempt, and he also had a long unkempt beard.

Same psychologist also said he had interviewed one who one Sunday morning went to meetings and Tuesday after that (two days), shot his wife dead. So serious things can happen in an instant as well as over time

James said...

Thanks, James Anderson. As I indicated in my comment above, I knew that Elder Lee had been charged for child abuse. I had forgotten the extent of the details. And it is interesting to think about how the Lord was correct in stating that "in the last days, even the very elect will be deceived." While we should rightly respect, sustain, and support those that serve in any leadership capacity, it is not wise nor logical to put them on a pedestal of any kind, as just about every one of these men and women have at some point or another battled with their own weaknesses, imperfections, and transgressions. As we all are aware, there was only one perfect man to ever walk the earth. While all of us are trying our best to be like Him, the result of living in an imperfect world is that Satan and his snares are everywhere. While the Lord directs the calls of every Church leader in every capacity, at best, each of them is still very human. And as we have seen in the case of Elders Lyman, Lee and Hamula, if any of us do let our guard down for any reason, we too may transgress and fall short of the glory of God. The beauty of the concept of the Atonement is in the fact that, as long as we are doing our best to live what we believe, the Lord will make up the difference for where we are lacking and falling short, even in cases of serious transgression.

James said...

That said, I wanted to make a quick comment unrelated to the direction this discussion has gone. In recent days, I have taken several opportunities to post lots of new content on my own blog, including Church and temple news and developments, in addition to birthday tributes to three of our five apostles that have marked their special days within the last week (Elder Stevenson on August 6, Elder Andersen three days later, and Elder Oaks just yesterday). We also have two other apostolic birthdays coming up prior to the end of this month, with President Monson's 90th in 8 days and Elder Hales' 85th three days later. I invite any who may want to do so to read and, if they feel so inspired, comment on any of these new posts that may be of interest to them. The link to my blog follows below. In the meantime, I am continually grateful to Matt for letting me note such posts on the thread of this blog. Thanks to you all for continuing to inspire me.


John Pack Lambert said...

District branches are at one level administrative units, to organize the records of members who live beyond the boundaries of the regular branches. Generally the branch president is the district president. There are also mission branches that collect the areas of a mission outside other branches (sometimes called mission administrative branches, mission branch is also a term used in other context for branches not under a stake or district, and in some context all brnaches not in stakes). These branches at times have organized groups under them. Although there can also be functioning groups under the authority of geographical wards or branches. This is the case of the group on the Channel Islands of California.

Today there was a new couple in Sterling Heights Ward. The wife is an African-American sister who joined the church in our stake a few years back, went off to BYU-Idaho and that is where she met her husband. Her husband is from Edo State in Nigeria (the capital of that state in Benin City), his family joined the church when he was 6. He served in the Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission and then went to BYU-Idaho. He just got hired to work in the IT department of General Motors. We have at least two other members in the Sterling Heights Ward who work in that same department, and close to half the adult men in the ward seem to work for general motors, and a few others used to work for GM.

Whizzbang said...

Just to clarify, Elders Kimball and Benson were in place prior to Elder Lyman's excommunication, Elder Mark E. Petersen was called to fill the vacancy in the Twelve after Elder Lyman's removal

Eduardo said...

Not knowing the Lyman case very well, not following the brethren in practice and policy can be as much a case for excommunication as a second marriage or being unchaste. The sister from Virginia who pushed for female priesthood access was excommunicated more recently because of not following direct counsel from leadership, which is a strong form of apostasy and shows violations of at least two temple worthiness questions.
When George Lee lost his membership I remember my mother, adult convert from 1968, being saddened and hurt by it. Perhaps my father and other adult males took note, I don't know.
Having served and lived in Chile and Spanish speaking California church settings, we are really chagrined when members or investigators of the blood of Lehi do not blossom as a rose as the Book of Mormon promises. But that applies to European gentiles as well, or people the world over.
I recall Elder Lee advocating greater native American perogatives, and like Russell or whatever name the former Russian-serving missionary was in Northern Virginia who pushed publicly against Church policy, these are serious grounds for discplinary counsel and removal.
We are free to dissent and disagree on many Church policy matters, but we should not lead others in those issues that then become ill fated causes.
Having said that, it is all right to be critical and interested in adapting and improving many of our strategies and tactics like missionary outreach, humanitarian activites, and other extra-ecclestiastical endeavors.
All of us can do better individually and collectively.
We see this every day, and we live in a very "living" faith in that sense.
Part of what makes membership and participation so fascinating in the latter-days.

Mike Johnson said...

The story my grandmother told me about Elder Lyman when I was a teenager in the 1970s was that a young woman from Alberta appeared in Salt Lake City and announced that Elder Lyman was her father. Elder Lyman then admitted that she was his daughter and that led to his excommunication. I have never read that anywhere and may have just been a story told at the time or after. But, the point of grandma's story was to be careful when you are younger because indiscretions made then could come back to haunt you.

Mike Johnson said...

George P. Lee's arrest for child abuse came years after his excommunication.

James said...

Great thoughts, all! But I wanted to clarify some things. I hope everyone knows that I didn't mean to imply that I thought the abuse for which George P. Lee was arrested and served time happened during his time as a General Authority.

Regarding Elder Lyman, the specifics I know about that excommunication were pulled from the biography of President Kimball written by his sons. They recounted their father's participation in the Church court held against Elder Lyman. According to the biography (which I would trust more than what other people not involved in the process), Elder Lyman was accused of adultery that had resulted from his entering into an unauthorized marriage with another woman, at which they exchanged vows privately, since Elder Lyman couldn't trust anyone to officiate. When those charges were read, Elder Lyman confirmed for his brethren the particulars of the accusations against him. It was said that as he did so, he didn't seem remorseful and showed no emotion, but that all of his brethren were quite emotional about the whole thing. The one thing I can't quite recall is if this disciplinary council was held with or without the involvement of the First Presidency.

I also know from that same biography that these brethren did their best to try and convince Elder Lyman to get his blessings restored, but that at the time of his death, he had declined to do so.

In regards to Elder Hamula, there is a story floating around the Wikipedia talk pages that his brother-in-law had said the action resulted from Hamula having an extramarital affair. But until he or Church leaders verify that (which is not likely) it is merely heresay. Thanks to you all for the discussion.

Clark Goble said...

A problem with US Church data versus surveys by ARIS or polls by Pew is that the latter is only looking at those 18 or older while the church is looking at those 8 or older. I wonder how much that is skewing the data? I'd be careful with those % figures until you establish we're actually comparing apples to oranges.

Clark Goble said...

Mike you answered some of my questions. I wonder if all the census analysis are being as careful as StatsCanada. Of course StatsCanada is fantastic and has been for decades. With other ones I wonder what caveats we have to make.

It sounds like the particular wording and incentives, such as in the Scottish case, may significantly affect these statistics as well.

One thing I'd like to know is whether there are the same incentives to get people off the records who don't consider themselves Mormon as there are in the US and Canada. I remember my father spending a lot of time getting people to sign the form in Nova Scotia due to budget issues as well as the transition from district to stake. That can have a big effect obviously in the ratio of church numbers to survey numbers.

Regarding the Lyman case, even though it happened well after the transitionary period in Mormon history under Heber J Grant, it is almost certainly caught up with the idea of post-manifesto secret polygamy. When people started being excommunicated for that it was a big deal. Of course Lyman wasn't the first apostle excommunicated over the issue. It's just that it appears he'd kept it secret longer. There are complicated theological reasons tied to the then understanding of ones calling and election being made sure. If Lyman didn't seem troubled about restoring blessings (which I'd never heard before) then it's almost certainly because he, like some of the apostate groups, didn't think the apostles had the ability to remove them. Clearly we think that wrong but not everyone at the time did.

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually I believe reported church membership figures may be including both baptized members and children of record, so it may include people under age 8. I am not sure on this matter though.

If the Pew data is only for 18 and older than articles like the one in Slate over the weekend that said "The Mormon Church in the US today has a membership that is 3% African-American" and when you look at the source it is a 2009 Pew Survey, you have to wonder how 8 year old data gained the moniker "today". If it is only for the 18+ population than it skews quite a bit. We also need to have a good sense how Alex Boye's or Mia Loves children would be designed in the survey (well, except since they are under 18, they wouldn't be, at least I think Mia Love does not yet have a child over 18).

For example in Sterling Heights Ward we have a set of African-American teenaged twins who are the oldest members in their family (they have a younger brother and sister who are also members). They are the only teenagers in the ward currently who neither of their parents are members.

John Pack Lambert said...

The Church first excomunicated people for plural marriage under Joseph F. Smith.

Lyman was called as an apostle in 1918. This was more than ten years after Elder John W. Taylor and Elder Mathias Calley had been removed from the Quorum of the 12 because of continued advocating of plural marriage. Only Elder Taylor was later excomunicated.

In the 1930s the Church went to exceptional lengths to remove those who continued to advocate polygamy from the records of the Church, especially in places like Short Creek on the Utah/Arizona line. The Church made people in a few areas were advocacy of polygamy was high take an oath, in which among other things they affirmed that President Grant and his counselors currently only had one wife. Those who refused to take the oath were excomunicated.

Elder Lyamn had began commiting adultery apparently in the 1920s. This was almost 20 years after the Church began excomunicating polygamists, certainly more than 15.

However due to some people taking at face value polemical statements from when polygamy was practiced, and others misinterpreing Section 132 to make it a religious requirement, and possibly other factors, there have been periodic episodes of polygamy flaring up within the Church. The most spoken of incident I know of was among missionaries in the French mission about the time of the dedication of the London Temple. It was such a concern that Joseph Fielding Smith and maybe other members of the 12 carried out the councils that excomunicated several missionaries. The determining question they used was asking people if they affirmed that President David O. McKay held all the keys. This is one argument of some of the apostate groups, that there are keys of the priesthood not held by the current president of the Church.

From time to time more recently there have been people who have set themselves up to be a new light, claiming the current leaders of the Church have gone into apostasy, that the Church should not go any further in any direction than was done by Joseph Smith. The most recent wave of such people, including Denver Snuffer, have more often claimed that Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy, and that it was introduced by Brigham Young, and then tried to say the church had been in error on various matters from the time of Brigham Young to the present.

One of Snuffer's claims is everyone should have direct revelation of seeing Jesus, and he then claims the apostles are not worth to lead because they have not had such. His claims have been disproved on both points by people who have studied the issues involved.

James said...

It's odd that Snuffer would claim that. He has never ascertained that none of the current apostles have not. Some of our recent apostles have said things that make me think many, if not all, of them, have had such experiences. But as apostles have said over the years, such experiences may be too sacred to relate. And it is wise that restraint should be used in public declarations. Many in the Church are not prepared to hear, understand, and accept such experiences. As cautioned by the Savior, the Brethren are wise to not cast their pearls before any swine that are either not ready or unprepared to hear such experiences. I heard once that all those called to be apostles in this dispensation are called because they have the ability to be firsthand witnesses of the Savior's divine mission and purpose. But that is between them and the Lord.

I would also like to add that, as far as I know, children of record are included on the records of the Church. That is why some have observed a discrepancy between the sum of the increase in children of record and convert baptisms and the number of total Church members reported at the end of each year.

That said, as any gospel student knows, those who imply that Church leaders are out of the way, fallen, or in a state of apostasy, while asserting their own righteousness, are on the high road to apostasy, and, as Brother Joseph warned, if they do not repent, they will apostatize as surely as God lives. And I think that applies by extension to anyone who may assert that some kind of emeritus status should be enacted for prophets and apostles. I hope I have made it clear how I feel about that.

For now, I wanted to conclude this reply by noting that I have completed several new blog posts since I last posted a link to my blog on this thread. So I thought it would be worth sharing a link again to those posts. Any who want to are more than welcome to comment. Enjoy!


Mike Johnson said...

Snuffer claims a lot of things that I find odd.

Mike Johnson said...

>>>the questionnaire would gone out to everybody. At the very least every attempt would be made to get a valid response for every purpose.

Highly unlikely with questions about religion. Every censusI have looked at, questions about religion tend to go to a subset on a longer form than the shorter form sent to everybody.

Brett Stirling said...


I'm not sure how things are done in the US, but every survey in Australia and New Zealand has the same set of questions.

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