Reports about Mormonism in the past few weeks suggest that foundational changes are taking place in the Mormon culture. A study conducted by Trinity College finds that there probably aren’t as many Latter-day Saints in America as we thought there were. The number of people who self-identify as Mormon may be a much as 30% lower than the number of members reported in official statistics of the LDS Church. Instead of growing rapidly, it appears that Mormonism in the United States is growing at about the same rate as the general population. The result may be a growing number of cultural Latter-day Saints who espouse a Mormon identity but reject the truth claims of the LDS Church.
To learn more, see “Mormon Numbers Not Adding Up”
Another report suggests that defections are on the rise among Latter-day Saints, especially younger members – in part as a result of the availability of information that contradicts official and faith-promoting accounts of Mormon history, and in part due to the younger generation’s shift toward more liberal social positions than the LDS Church espouses. The Church is planning initiatives to expose students to challenging issues at a younger age.
One challenge to the evangelical church is to make a credible case for faith to disaffected Latter-day Saints, so that in rejecting Mormonism they do not reject all revealed religion out of hand. Another challenge is to find ways to incorporate spiritually restless former Mormons into our congregations in a healthy way.