Date: July 16, 2013 06:09PM
“Whew … want a quick summary?” asks the administrator of Cumorah.org in Chile. “The results of the past ten years for the church — not considering spiritual themes, explanations, one thing or another — considering only the [data], there is a strong failure in the membership numbers….”
No wonder the title of the administrator’s post is, “Mormons complain that they are in a whirlwind in Chile.”
It was quite a surprise ten years ago when the Chilean census reported that 103,735 adults identified themselves as members of the Mormon Church. This at a time when the church was claiming 527,972 members.
Now comes the 2012 census, and the church hasn’t done any better. In fact, membership has dropped by 2,279, to 101,456. That’s a decline of 2.2%.
Incidentally, the census found that the number of Catholics was up by 850,000, and the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses increased by 10,000.
The Cumorah.org administrator continues his lamenting by asking: “How is it that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, not having the truth, or the spirit, or even more, not having all the resources we have ... can have better numbers? Ufffff. President Kimball would be very, very angry.”
Officially, the church reports a ten-year increase of 42,861, to a total of 570,833.
However, it is possible with its own statistics to show just how far off the church’s count is.
Chile had 620 units (wards + branches) when the census was taken. Multiply the number of units by 410 (the average unit membership from 1973 to 1999 when membership and unit numbers were more in balance), and you get 254,200. That’s much closer to the census number, but the census doesn’t include children younger than 15. So 254,200 sounds like a reasonable number if both adults and children are considered.
Accounting for 254,200 members means there are an incredible 316,663 members on the church rolls who are “lost,” inactive or otherwise not accounted for Consequently, it appears that there are more people on the church rolls in Chile whose membership is a question mark than there are people who are more or less active.
Incidentally, using the same 410 average for unit membership, there are 2.9 million members worldwide who can’t be accounted for -– again using the church’s own statistics. And of those 2.9 milllion, 11% are in Chile, 14% in Brazil, 17% in Mexico, and 4% in Peru. That’s a whopping 47% of the global total.
As you’ll no doubt recall, there were a large number of apparent “phantom” baptisms in Chile during the 1990’s. Wards and branches were created to accommodate the newly-baptized members -– except that many of the new members never materialized.
Jeffrey Holland was sent to Chile in 2002 to help straighten out the mess, and 339 units and 42 stakes were discontinued. Frankly, it looks like the units were dealt with but the phantom baptisms remain on the rolls.
The church appeared to be on a roll –- and still is among a dedicated core of believers –- when a combined total of nearly 30,000 people attended the two rededication sessions of the Santiago temple.
Writing in the U.S., Cumorah.com said of the event: “While visiting Chile in 2006 to rededicate the Santiago Chile Temple, President Hinckley stated that ‘where we have thousands, we will have tens of thousands.’” **
Paraphasing and updating Cumorah.com, Hinckley — as well as other “international LDS Church leaders” — have made statements that continue to be “unrealized”.
Will the new census niumbers have any impact on Chilean Mormons? Not hardly, says the Cumorah.org administrator. “The discussion will continue to be that we are more than 500,000, the largest percentage of any country in the world [3.32% vs. 2.00% in the U.S.], and everything continues to be just fine in Zion.”
url=http://www.cumorah.org/2013/04/07/resultados-del-censo-2012-en-chile-mormones/. “Mormones, se quejan de que van en picada en Chile.” [“Mormons complain that they are in a whirlwind in Chile.”]