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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: April 20, 2023 11:06PM

First of all, a fact which I point out often here, about 2/3rds of baptized Mormons have already either left or died, since the number of participating Mormons is about a third of what LDS Inc claims its membership to be.

Mormonism is a high-churn religion. Lots of newbies coming in by birth or baptism, lots of "members" leaving.

If you happen to have TBM relatives/family members who you are sure will never ever leave, no matter what happens that makes the Church look bad, you may well be right, but you may also get a surprise. How many people were surprised when you left?

But even if Aunt Lureen doesn't ever leave, if any of her children (or their children) leave, that is not just one person, it is an entire branch of the future family, and with the steady drip drip drip of scandal, a certain number of shelves finally break with each new drip. And the drips never stop.

The evidence for my claim? Look at the net increase in stakes and districts over the last decade or so.

Year Net increase in stakes and districts
2023 6 through March 2023
2022 26
2021 29
2020 26
2019 68
2018 48
2017 92
2016 114
2015 79
2014 70
2013 40
2012 59
2011 55

Source: http://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/

The data is pretty erratic, but if you do a 3 year running average, the trend is definitely downward.

2020 and 2021 were covid years, so you would expect lean growth in those years, and 2022 you would expect a rebound of stake creation that was deferred in the previous two years. That did not happen.

And 2023 is not looking any better.

Note that a new stake creation does not mean that the Church actually grew by that amount. Especially in new towns or subdivisions in the Intermountain West, stakes get created to accommodate the new move-ins to the area, but these are almost totally people that moved out of some other stake, which shrank a bit, but the stake probably was not discontinued, it just got a little more emaciated.

There are about 4,000 stakes and districts. Growth of 20-ish units per year is just over one half of one percent. They should have more growth than that just from births, even without the missionary sales force bringing in baptisms.

The fact that the number of stakes and districts is only increasing by less than 1% per year lately tells you all you need to know (or at least all that they are likely to divulge) about how the church is growing.

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Posted by: Humberto ( )
Date: April 20, 2023 11:15PM

I hope to see the day when there is a minus sign next to those numbers.

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: April 20, 2023 11:20PM

I was just thinking that myself, but when that happens, I suspect they will find a way to stop reporting change in number of units, or change staffing requirements, so stakes can be smaller and still function.

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Posted by: slskipper ( )
Date: April 20, 2023 11:26PM

The church will (if they haven't already started) employ all manner of statistical and demographic shenanigans to keep the number of units up. They will decide that wards need to be more "intimate". They will say that all those huge stakes in the past were the product of the members misunderstanding God's will as revealed by his "legitimate" (i.e., current) prophet. And so on. This will necessitate a huge revamping of church organizational protocols. We have already seen this in action by eliminating many positions that up until very recently were deemed absolutely essential, like YM leaders and scoutmasters. That's my prediction, anyway.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: April 20, 2023 11:58PM

It is my understanding that the church continues to count as members those who formally resign.

So their membership total is spurious.

They have the ability to tally yearly resignations but they chose not to announce those yearly totals.

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Posted by: Beth ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 12:00AM

Don’t they keep counting you after you die? 110 years or something?

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 12:07AM

If no one writes in to tell them that I perished as a result of flaming passion, then I will stay on the books until that 110th birthday.

But the reverse is also a possibility, that my 111th birthday will finally see the end to my BYU Alumni magazine subscription.

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Posted by: Beth ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 12:09AM


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Posted by: [|] ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 12:09AM

The 110 applies to "lost" members. If you become inactive and they can't find where you are by one of the means they use (and don't know if you are dead), then they will keep you listed as a member until your 110th birthday.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 02:56AM

35

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 09:33PM

I'm joking. I imagine the actual life expectancy was 65 or 70.

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Posted by: Beth ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 09:45PM


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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 01:46PM

Unless they are otherwise informed of your death, they count you to age 110 because by then you are absolutely, positively dead. A few people do make it past 100. The number of people in the world who make it past 110 in any given year can probably be counted one one hand, and maybe just on your thumbs.

The membership numbers have been bogus for a long time. The number of stakes and districts are real, verifiable numbers. Yes, there is a lot of slop in defining exactly how big a stake is, but there is a reasonable upper and lower bound to the size of a stake.

I think slskipper is spot on about them being willing to stand on their heads and spit nickels in order to keep the number of stakes up. I think for one thing, they will open number of callings to women that are now priesthood-only callings.

I love slskipper's description of making the wards "more intimate", i.e. smaller. That would be a perfect example of church spin.

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Posted by: Changeling ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 09:36PM

They must have gotten that 110 year age number from ancient Egypt, I've read in one book on that society that 110 was considered the perfect age to live to and from age 100 to 110 was a kind of goof off period, of course probably no one lived even close to that then, My son has this book it was written by a German egyptologist whose name escapes me, it was a series of lectures put into terms the lay person would understand or find interesting, probably another example of plagiarism, I mean look at the past attempts at interpreting ancient written languages, not good...

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 10:40PM

Aw, crap!  I misread that!!

I thought it was 10 to 110!  Doesn't that make more sense?

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Posted by: Beth ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 05:07AM


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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 06:48AM

The rule of thumb used to be that roughly a third of the church's claimed members are active. However, based on anecdotal reports of shrinking ward attendance, I think the number of actives is lower right now.

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 01:50PM

That's my rule of thumb too. I agree it might be a little high now, but even if it is, it is a hell of a lot closer to reality than the Church's official numbers.

I don't think it is down to 25% average activity rate yet, but hopefully that day is coming. One third activity rate is close enough for government work. ;)

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Posted by: messygoop ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 03:15PM

Just prior to the pandemic, my late wife went to a LDS funeral for a former member. She went to show respect for the family. The new bishop honed in like a laser to invite my wife back to church. He threw out every little bit of honey to get her trapped, including a calling.

My wife told the bishop that she would not attend church most Sundays. And he countered- That's okay Sister Goop. You can attend once a month or even once every other month.

My wife asked- And how is that going to help your ward attendance? I still will be considered semi-active.

The bishop quipped- Oh no. The church redefined their activity measurements. Any member who attends at least one Sunday within a 3 month reporting period is considered fully-active.

-And I speculate that the church may have increased it to one attendance within the year will qualify members as "active". The church will fight to maintain their dwindling stats. At some point, they may count phone contacts and street visuals as membership activity.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2023 03:15PM by messygoop.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 03:55PM

That's interesting--on two scores.

First, it's pathetic that the church would redefine "activity" that way. It's even more pathetic that after reducing the required frequency of attendance, they would inform your wife what the new standard is and ask that she fulfill it. There could be no more blatant admission that they don't care about her, or anyone, beyond the improved statistic her participation would yield.

Second, several months ago I attended a friend's services in our last ward. When I resolved to go, I thought about the strategic situation. It was the church's home ground, so if confronted--as I would inevitably be--by the multiple bishops who had severely harmed our family, they would have the strategic advantage. They could approach me and say nice things knowing full well that I could not reply forcefully without making a scene and upsetting my friend's family. The bishops could therefore say what they wanted and then go home and tell themselves they had made amends.

I was determined not to let that happen. I left Lot and the children home because in the chapel they would have been hostages, keeping me at the event and even more restrained in my conversation.

So I went alone into that cold chapel and started speaking to the decedents' family members. I did tell a couple of them that I might not stay long, and after about 15 minutes the two bishops started walking towards me. I would have loved speaking frankly to them but could not do so, and I would not let them use the situation against me. So I whispered to one of my hosts that "the vultures are circling" and I would be leaving. Knowing our history, she said she understood and, with a hug, we parted.

As I walked out of the chapel and the building, the two bishops bizarrely followed. There was no way, given our history, that they would have entertained hope that my family would return to activity; they were just after some relief from whatever guilt their consciences bore--and it should have been significant. So as I opened my car door, I looked up, stared across the lot at them for a good thirty seconds as they waved and kept coming, then calmly got in the vehicle and drove past them as they continued pathetically to smile and wave.

I would enjoy at some point the chance to speak with either or both of them, but I will not let them control the environment and thereby set the terms of the discussion. No, any communication must occur on neutral ground. And they are too cowardly to let that happen.

Is there a theme to this post? The term "pathetic" seems to have appeared a few times.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 05:21PM

The smart thing for them to do would have been to leave you alone, but I suppose they were incapable of that.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 05:38PM

I think they feel profound guilt.

We had some problems with church authorities involving our children. We complained at the bishop's level, then the stake president's, but they refused to believe some of the things we said and also told us we were to shut up. They even punished us formally--probation--for challenging the priesthood brethren. That was the final straw: we refused to tolerate being penalized for doing what was right.

After we left, the problems exploded in front of everyone in the ward and there was no longer any way they could deny what had happened. I suspect that the bishops feel guilty; they were deceiving themselves throughout the process and probably want us--in this instance, me--to hear them say they didn't know and that they did their best. Telling me those things would probably assuage their consciences, allowing them to go on pretending they are good men.

Ironically, the reason I insisted on going to the funeral was because the decedent and his family had ALWAYS had our back. They saw what the church was doing to us and told everyone. He was so senior, had served in so many high-ranking positions, that his clan was immune to attack. I went to the service to express my respect for a truly honorable man.

The bishops, by contrast, were typical sniveling cowards. There was no way in hell that I would help them feel better about themselves. If they want to talk privately, sure, I'd do it. But of course they don't want to talk privately. They only want to talk where it is safe.

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Posted by: Humberto ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 09:51PM

It was my experience that in church leadership culture, sanctimony is often mistaken for humility and held as a virtue, and is noted as a desired trait in a future leader. Real virtues like kindness, generosity, and forgiveness don't as readily stand out.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 10:06PM

Agreed.

And when moral duty requires a church leader to do something that may embarrass the church or himself even marginally, he will choose the path of inaction. That's what happened with us--until, again, the scale of the ethical lapses became publicly apparent. It was then, too late to make a difference, that the church leaders wanted to talk.

As I've said before, the various compromises the church expects its leaders and members to make render them much less moral than general society.

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Posted by: Humberto ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 11:45PM

One of the more moral members I work with was called to be bishop. He turned them down.

He told me this in strict confidence and a hushed voice, lest any of the nearby members find out. (There are more than a few planted about in our cubicle farm.) What he knew to be the right decision for him would be viewed as wrong by others, and he didn't want the attention.

I'm sure there are good bishops out there - the one who sent me on my mission comes to mind - but I think they're uncommon.

A few years after I quit, it was an ass of a bishop who treated one of my children poorly enough that my wife was convinced of the harm being done inside those walls. It was too much for him that my daughter dyed her hair blue, setting a poor example for the flamboyant gay boy he was trying to turn straight. For that he wouldn't let her go with her peers to do baptisms for the dead. For that he deemed her unworthy.

They could go a long way toward improving the culture with one simple trick: gender equality in all leadership. It still wouldn't make the church true, but it would make it a better place. If they double the talent pool, they might realize that there are better options than the stiff-minded accountant who does everything by the numbers, with extra margins to be safe.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 11:58PM

When I was--and you presumably were--young, bishops had far more latitude than they do now. It was possible for some of them to prioritize the members and ignore the bad guidance from above.

It hasn't been that way for a long time, and the number of bishops who are willing and able to make tough decisions has decreased enormously. Your friend make the right choice. From my mission onward, I never encountered such a leader. My experience suggests that now they all basically follow orders and, if a mistake is made, leave it for the Lord to sort out after this life.

We put up with it for a long time, but when our kids started primary and I saw what they were being taught I knew it was time to go. Then I felt like an idiot for having put up myself with things I would never want my children to go through.

It was so simple now. . .

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Posted by: Beth ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 05:15AM

Their actions were abhorrent, crushing, evil.

Did you consider almost hitting them with your car? Kind of a brushback with no possibility of injury?

Of course not. You’re too levelheaded and kind. But I’m not.

Feel free to live vicariously through me and my hotheaded desire to make them pee their pants. But that would play into their hands. They would feel vindicated.

We have no duty to make our abusers feel better.

Still…

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 12:20PM

>>Feel free to live vicariously through me and my hotheaded desire to make them pee their pants.

I'm signing up for that!

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Posted by: Beth ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 12:38PM

I’m creating a bucket list o’ bastids.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 12:00AM

On a different note, I've always liked what you post.

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Posted by: Humberto ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 01:43AM

Thank you, and likewise.

I'm extraordinarily grateful that my kids and yours have the opportunity to understand human morality with the distorted lens of Mormonism removed from the field of view.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 01:56AM

I couldn't agree more. We saved them from decades of therapy.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 05:20PM

>> Any member who attends at least one Sunday within a 3 month reporting period is considered fully-active.

This is Roman Catholic territory, where twice a year attendance (Christmas and Easter) is considered the minimum acceptable standard.

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Posted by: valkyriequeen ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 10:59AM

It makes me wonder why they are building so many temples, when people are leaving?

We have some TBM friends and they said when they went on vacation to San Diego, they did an endowment session at the San Diego temple. She was really surprised because there were only 4 couples there. It was the same thing the following day.

We didn't have the heart to tell her it's because members are leaving in droves. We haven't had the courage to tell them that we resigned in 2018.

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Posted by: messygoop ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 11:20AM

Why build so many temples?

First, I think it's the only game plan the church has. Forcing people to maintain a TR generates tithing. Secondly, it creates an illusion that the church is growing. Third, I think it creates value to the church's big time donors. -My church is growing in the world, every 6 months they announce new temple constructions. Finally, there are members who actively travel the world to attend temples. And I think members do indeed believe that low attendance is a fluke- I am sure that the temple gets busy on other days, just we were there visiting on and off day.

How many well-to-do members travel the world to see the newest meetinghouse built in Quito Ecuador?

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 12:56PM

2 parents will never leave. One is dead.
9 siblings and I and one other have left.
50 grandchildren and that I know of maybe a handful have left but probably less than I think.

Caveat - my sister was excommunicated for polygamy which by the way is rare. It took another sister to make it happen.

This sister has many kids. I think most are in their cult. The couple who have left joined the mainstream.

So for my family retention is higher.

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Posted by: sunbeep ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 01:22PM

Of my six children, only one is active and that is because his wife's family is still deeply entrenched in the church and leaving isn't an option.

Another of my kids still pays tithing and attends occasionally but thinks much of mormonism is a bunch of hoo-ie.

The rest of my kids don't attend or participate but are staying in because they are afraid of leaving. "What will our cousins think" if they leave.

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Posted by: PHIL ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 02:44PM

All is well in Zion. No one is leaving. No stakes are shrinking. Things are just being organized more effective.

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Posted by: blackcoatsdaughter ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 04:19PM

>>No stakes are shrinking. Things are just being organized more effective.

Do you hear it yourself or does it just slip right past the radar?

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Posted by: Beth ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 05:20AM

The RfM mascot? The Ghost of Cult Life Past? A nagging reminder that the church is not true?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/22/2023 11:05AM by Beth.

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Posted by: unconventional ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 09:54PM

Sadly, “afraid of leaving” is real, but if you can’t get over that fear, you become a coward.

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Posted by: bluebutterfly ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 01:04AM

It is very real. I, as a BIC, had to muster up every ounce of strength to get over the fear. So glad I did, and I'm never turning back.

Wish I could get some more siblings out, and my parents, but that feels like a lost cause.

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Posted by: RPackham ( )
Date: April 21, 2023 04:18PM

To get a feeling of the truth about this, compare membership claims in countries where the census asks your religious affiliation. Consistently the church records claim three or four times as many members as citizens who claim affiliation with the church.

Although it isn't up to date, I reported some comparisons in "FAQ: How many exmormons are there?"

http://packham.n4m.org/morexmos.htm

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 09:17PM

Peggy Fletcher Stack once wrote an article about this very thing, using Chile as an example. The church had reported a high number of members in Chile, but in reality, only 8% (as I recall) of all the members in the country self-identified as Mormon. Of course, having a member who doesn't self-identify as Mormon is no Mormon at all. But if you build a temple that no one will attend, then it becomes success.

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Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 09:12PM

The threshold for "active" is really low, attendance at sacrament meeting at least once per month. People doing Mormonism's full monty -- attendance, tithing, temple recommend, a "calling" -- is only like 2.5 million of the entire lot. It's success without showing success.

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Posted by: blackcoatsdaughter ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 09:15PM

Probably why my dad tried to convince me to simply attend church again recently, regardless of my explicit intent to remain an out and open lesbian.

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 09:23PM

The cult said there were 10K members in the Lethbridge area...their rationale for building a temple here....and I thought, if I drove past every Mormon church on a Sunday and counted the cars in the parking lots, and multiple by 4 id bet a flat of good beer that the number wouldn't make 10k

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Posted by: Trails end ( )
Date: April 22, 2023 11:18PM

I’m up for a Sunday survey Ron...you drive I’ll hold th e java...w e better take your 72..no cup holders if I recall...baileys optional...little bird told me the old patrons at the cardston temple are pretty bored with low attendance...makes perfect sense they need another poorly attended edifice...maybe a little more money circulation to th e faithful...donated property perhaps..blessings in hebben...be sure and salute when queen Wendy and sir sucks a lot motor by to Raymond...middle fingers are fine...all show by the upraised finger...they really screwed up attendance at the cardston temple when they quit cooking tasty meals for the old folks...after the stale grits at the home the smell alone would bring em...you better keep tally...anything over nineand I get confused

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