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About The LDS Restorationist
movement, including the Mormon churches

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints: Current status & recent events

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Current Status:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also commonly referred to as the "LDS Church." They prefer the abbreviations "the Church" or "the Church of Jesus Christ." However, the latter abbreviations would be confusing to use in this web site because we deal with so many faith groups who regarding only themselves as the true Christian church.

Beliefs concerning the LDS church vary:

  • Members believe themselves to be a restoration of the original church of the Apostles as it existed in the 1st Century CE. They believe that early in the 2nd century, after the death of the apostles, massive heresies developed within the Christian movement that caused it to permanently deviate from Jesus' teachings. From these heresies came the Roman Catholic church, Eastern Orthodox churches, thousands of Protestant denominations, etc.

  • Many Gentiles (non-Mormons) consider the LDS church to be a unique conservative denomination within Protestant Christianity, who have supplemented traditional Christianity with beliefs concerning an ancient American Native civilization, additional revelations from God, unique beliefs concerning the nature of the Trinity, new concepts of the structure of Heaven, some Gnostic beliefs, etc.

  • Many Christian fundamentalist and other evangelical authors feel that differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity are so great that the LDS church should be considered non-Christian. For example, the Barna Group -- the leading public opinion pollsters specializing in the conservative wing of Christianity, often reports on Mormon data separately from Christian data'

  • Many individuals, authors and groups in the counter-cult movement consider the LDS church to be a cult.

All agree that:

  • The LDS Church is one of the largest and most successful religious groups ever founded in North America;

  • They do have many practices and beliefs that isolate them from traditional Christianity.

As of 1999, they had about 11 million members world-wide, with a slight majority living outside the U.S. They exceeded 12 million in early 2004. 1 Their end-of-year statistical report for 2005 shows:

  • A total membership of 12,560,869 members including 52,060 full time missionaries.
  • 2,701 stakes, 643 districts, 341 missions and 27,087 wards and branches.
  • 122 temples are in operation, including temples dedicated during 2005 at San Antonio, TX; Aba Nigeria; and Newport Beach, CA. 2,3
  • There are 5.7 million LDS members in the U.S., 3 million in South America, 1 million in Mexico, 448 thousand in Europe, 404 thousand in the South Pacific, and 172 thousand in Canada. 4

Their facilities are spread across 150 countries. Their main power concentration is in the state of Utah, where it is often estimated that about 70% of the adults identify themselves as Mormon. However, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York conducted a massive "American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) in the year 2000. It indicates that only 57% of Utah adults identify themselves as Mormon. 17% in the state have no religion, 6% are Catholics, and all other religious groups are each less than 3%. States with large Mormon populations are:

  • 6% of the adult population of Arizona,
  • 14% in Idaho,
  • 3% in Maryland,
  • 3% in Montana,
  • 3% in New Mexico,
  • 9% in Nevada,
  • 4% in Oregon,
  • 57% in Utah, and
  • 3% in Washington state.

They comprise 2% or fewer adults in other states. 5

Their total membership has at least doubled every 15 years since 1945. Some of this gain is due to the large average size of their families. However, most of the increase from 1 million in 1947 to 11 million in the year 1999 consisted of new converts to the LDS church. The total growth rate in recent years reached a high of 6% in 1980 and has been generally declining since. In 2003, it dropped below 3% for the first time in recent years.

Mormons had traditionally separated themselves from other Christian groups -- particularly since 1846, when Brigham Young led most of the church on a long and difficult 1,300 mile (2100 km) trip to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. They had emphasized the uniqueness of their faith. However in the mid 1980's a movement intensified within the LDS Church to emphasize their points of similarity between themselves and traditional conservative Protestantism. They have joined with non-Mormon groups to actively fight drug abuse, abortion access, equal rights for women, and equal rights for gays and lesbians. In recent years, their extensive television ads have emphasized their "pro-family" beliefs which are indistinguishable from Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christian groups.

There were some reports that in mid-2006, their policy had changed again, so that they now emphasize the major differences in beliefs and practices between the LDS and other Christian denominations. However, there is a general consensus among the counter-cult movement that this difference is not a change in official policy. It merely represents personal or regional differences in evangelization techniques.

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Recent events:

"... does not fit within the bounds of the historic, apostolic tradition of Christian faith.... [They have] some radically differing doctrine on such matters of belief as the nature and being of God; the nature, origin, and purpose of Jesus Christ; and the nature and way of salvation."

This action follows similar resolutions previously passed by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Southern Baptist Convention.

  • 2000-NOV: USA: US News & World Report stated that Mormonism is the fastest growing faith group in American history. If present trends continue, there could be 265 million LDS members worldwide by the year 2080. 6

  • Mid-2001: World: The LDS church asked the media to call them by their full name: "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," or simply "The Church of Jesus Christ.."

  • 2001-SEP: UT: According to Newsweek: "Utah’s governor, two senators and three congressmen are Mormons. So are all the state’s Supreme Court justices and 80 percent of the state and federal judiciary, 90 percent of the state legislators and at least 85 percent of the mayors, county commissioners and local school officials." 7

  • 2002: UT: The Mormon Church was actively involved in the 2002 Olympics which was held in Utah.

  • 2006-AUG: FLDS: Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (FLDS) was arrested and later convicted of conspiracy to rape a child. The FLDS and the LDS church both trace their ancestry back to the original Church of Christ organized by Joseph Smith in the 1830s. The FLDS continued to accept Smith's teachings of polygyny after the LDS church suspended the practice in 1890. Although the two denominations reject each other's legitimacy, they are often confused in the minds of the public. A surprising number of  Americans believe that the LDS still engages in polygyny.

  • 2007: Presidential campaign: Mitt Romney, a Mormon, ran for the presidency of the U.S. Unusual among the initial slate of candidates, he had never divorced. His ethical standards appeared to be above reproach. However, many evangelical Christians had difficulty supporting for him because of his religious affiliation. Romney generated a great deal of attention for the LDS church until he withdrew his candidacy.

  • 2008-NOV: Opposition to homosexuality: The Family Research Council (FRC) estimated that the Mormon Church and its members donated $22 million in support of California's Prop. 8. 8 It was narrowly passed (52% to 48%) and, at least temporarily, suspended same-sex marriages in the state. The FRC credit this money as ultimately tipping "... the scales in the amendment's favor." The donation has generated an enormous amount of anger among many gays, lesbians, bisexuals and civil libertarians. There was talk of a boycott of Utah's tourism industry.

  • 2010-OCT: NC: Christ Covenant Church is a Presbyterian congregation in Charlotte, NC. They are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) -- the largest evangelical denomination within the conservative wing of U.S. Presbyterianism. The PCA has condemned any acceptance of lesbians and gays as evidenced by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Lawrence v. Texas and acceptance of sexually active homosexuals by the Episcopal Church, USA,   same-sex marriage, etc. They also take a dim view of the LDS church. For example, The PCA doesn't recognize the legitimacy of baptisms within the LDS church. 9 Thus they don't recognize individual Mormons as Christians.

    The 2010 theme for Christ Covenant Church is "Loving Like Christ: Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth, 1 John 3:18." The website of their Boy Scout Troop 413 is at: http://www.matthewstroop413.com/ The Stokes family was initially welcomed as leaders in Troop 413 Their sons Jeremy and Jodi were enrolled. After two scout meetings, someone got around to reading the couple's application forms which said that they belonged to the LDS Church. The parents were told that their sons, aged 6 and 8 were welcome to continue, but that the parents couldn't serve as leaders. Jodi Stokes, the boys' father, said: "I can't believe they had the audacity to say, 'You can't be leaders but we want your boys'." Are you kidding me? Do you really think I'd let my boys go there now? ... We had bought the uniforms, we had gone to two meetings, they had played with the other kids. And then my sons are saying, 'Mommy, why can't we go back there?' "

    Mark Turner, executive director of the Mecklenburg County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which also includes the Cub Scouts, said that the Church is within its rights to expell the Stokeses. He also said that as long as groups that charter Scout units follow the guidelines set by the national organization, they can set their own policies to exclude additional groups. 10

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "The Ensign," the official magazine of the LDS Church, 2004-SEP, Page 76.
  2. F. Michael Watson, "Statistical Report, 2005," at: http://www.lds.org/
  3. "Key Facts and Figures," LDS, at: http://www.lds.org/
  4. "Membership Distribution," LDS, end of 2005, at: http://www.lds.org/
  5. Barry Kosmin, et al,. "American Religious Identification Survey," Pages 39 to 41, by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2001, at: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/ This is a PDF file.
  6. Reported by Maranatha Christian Journal at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/00b/20001109e.htm
  7. K.L. Woodward, "A Mormon Moment: America's biggest homegrown religion is looking more Christian. But it's still a different world," Newsweek, 2001-SEP-10, at: http://www.msnbc.com/news/622787.asp 
  8. Tony Perkins, "Washington Update, 2008-NOV-07, at: http://www.frc.org/
  9. "The report of the study committee on questions relating to the validity of certain baptisms," PCA Historical Center 1987, at: www.pcahistory.org/ This is a Word file.
  10. Tom Breen, "Boy Scouts group removes Mormons from leadership roles over religious beliefs," Associated Press, 2010-OCT-21, at: http://www.csmonitor.com/

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Copyright © 1995 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2010-OCT-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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