Some Interesting Numbers

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released some data from a recent survey of Mormons. Most of the numbers show what we would expect: Mormons in America tend to be conservative and white and have large families. But some of the information is pretty telling.

Anecdotally, many of noticed that the LDS church has not been attracting converts from among the educated and stable. The survey seems tobear this out, showing that converts are more likely to be uneducated (16% of converts did not graduate from college, as opposed to just 6% of lifelong members) and economically disadvantaged (40% earn less than $30,000 a year, compared to just 21% of lifelong members). However, the convert population is considerably older than the lifelong members (48% are over 50, whereas only 30% of lifelong members are), which signals to me that the church is not attracting younger people, which is a pretty bad sign for a missionary church.

I was also surprised that only 57% of Mormons say they believe their church is the “one true church,” which of course is one of the central tenets of Mormonism. Far more believe in the Bible (91%) though more than half don’t take it literally (57%). It’s too bad that they didn’t ask if Mormons take the Book of Mormon literally. That would have been interesting.

A large majority (76%) of self-identified Mormons say they attend church at least once a week. This is interesting because most LDS wards would kill for an activity rate that high. Most wards I have been in have activity rates around 40-60%, and I don’t think that’s out of the ordinary. The high stated rate indicates to me that a lot of “less active” Mormons that the church still counts on its rolls do not consider themselves Mormons in any meaningful way.

Anyway, lots to chew on in the survey.

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6 Responses to Some Interesting Numbers

  1. Bull says:

    Regarding activity, I had the same thought. They still count me as a member even though I no longer consider myself a Mormon.

  2. […] then you shouldn’t sit around wondering how/why you got reamed in the deal.) See also Runtu’s take for more on Mormon politics and the new Pew […]

  3. Hellmut says:

    Right on target, Bull. This survey would not identify you as a Mormon but the LDS Church does.

  4. Reed Manson says:

    The church does not care about direct converts who tend to be socially and intellectually odd anyway. Odd people often have intelligent normal children. The church is built on well indoctrinated high functioning offspring, not on initial converts.
    Older converts don’t have children so are of little use to the church.

    ( Just a casual theory of mine )

  5. Jeff says:

    Just a couple of anecdotes about the the 76% attendance number. My friend’s daughter was baptized and went to church for two or three months. Started studying LDS church history and experienced the pathology of the singles ward and quickly quit attending. If the Pew surveyors called her and asked about her religious affiliation, she would not identify as Mormon. She told me the story of one her friends, who she found out recently was also baptized Mormon. Her story was that she had a crush on one of the missionaries and didn’t want to dissappoint him by not getting baptized. She never attended church after her baptism. She probably wouldn’t identify as Mormon to the Pew surveyors either.

  6. K*tty says:

    I found this on facebook. I thought it was interesting and a little on the subject of how Mormons are all about the numbers. To the point that the numbers aren’t quite an accurate representation of how many “REAL” members there are.

    It is the Million Members on Facebook drive.

    “The purpose of this group is to get as many people associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to join. It need not matter if a person is active, less-active, or has not set foot in a church building for decades. If you consider yourself a Mormon, then you belong. (This group is also welcome to those individuals that are not members of the church but are either interested in our beliefs, and or are supportive of their friends and family who are members). Basically, we invite any and all to become members.

    Lets see how fast this group can acquire 1 million members. Because the church now has over 13 million members worldwide, making the goal of 1 million should be within reach. (Its less than 10% of the church population).

    Please INVITE ANY and ALL individuals that you think would want to associate with this group. All are welcome.”

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