In response to the last blog post, Carrie Sheffield wrote to me the following. I asked if she’d like me to reproduce it here. She said yes, so here you go:
Hey Jeremy, I just saw your blog post. Would have been great if you had asked me for comment beforehand to understand some of the constraints I was dealing with.
A few thoughts:
-My initial draft included a link to an excellent study from Trinity College. This points out that “there are far fewer people who claim to be Mormon than are reported in official church statistics. The American Religious Identification Surveys allow scholars to look at self-identified members of the church in the United States … In early 1990, the LDS Church claimed 4,175,000 members in the United States, or 1.7% of the U.S. population. At the end of 2008, the church claimed 5,974,041 members, or 2% of the U.S. population. This constitutes a 30% increase in membership over an eighteen year span, as well as a 0.3% increase in Mormonism‘s ―national market share.
Numbers from the ARIS tell a slightly different story. From 1990 to 2008, the survey reports that the adult Mormon population in the United States rose from 2,487,000 to 3,158,000 but remained a steady at 1.4% of the U.S. population.”
-Unless someone proactively tells SLC they want their records formally removed through a process that takes weeks, they are still kept on Mormon rolls until age 110. That is why there are many many people, especially outside the US, who get baptized and perhaps never enter a chapel or temple again and yet are still counted as “Mormon” when in fact it has no place in their lives.
-I had more details that were taken out of the piece about research from more than 3,000 questioning Mormons, far from the isolated anecdotes of one person. The table on page 8 shows a multitude of reasons why people leave the church.
-I also had more that was taken out about positive things that the official Church had been doing; this would have struck a more conciliatory tone.