Rough Waters Ahead for Mormonism


The LDS Church's Mormon Temple in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, is seen January 27, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Sects that keep secrets — think Scientology — have a tough time in the Internet Age. That seems to be happening in the LDS Church, where some studies show that young people are leaving in droves, upon learning of the idiosyncrasies of Joseph Smith, along with other oddities:

A religious studies class late last year at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, was unusual for two reasons. The small group of students, faculty and faithful there to hear Mormon Elder Marlin Jensen were openly troubled about the future of their church, asking hard questions. And Jensen was uncharacteristically frank in acknowledging their concerns.

Did the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know that members are “leaving in droves?” a woman asked. “We are aware,” said Jensen, according to a tape recording of his unscripted remarks. “And I’m speaking of the 15 men that are above me in the hierarchy of the church. They really do know and they really care,” he said.

“My own daughter,” he then added, “has come to me and said, ‘Dad, why didn’t you ever tell me that Joseph Smith was a polygamist?’” For the younger generation, Jensen acknowledged, “Everything’s out there for them to consume if they want to Google it.” The manuals used to teach the young church doctrine, meanwhile, are “severely outdated.”

These are tumultuous times for the faith founded by Joseph Smith in 1830, and the rumbling began even before church member Mitt Romney’s presidential bid put the Latter-Day Saints in the spotlight.

READ THE REST: Special report – Mormonism besieged by the modern age | FaithWorld.

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  • I had a similar feeling when I read “Who Wrote The Bible” by Friedman. I don’t expect to be taught theology in Sunday sermons, but a little more honesty would make feel better about Christianity in general.

    • ME

      Growing up going to church, what has seemed dishonest to me is how all the lessons and sermons assumed I and every one else already believed. And I was just waiting for a child to shout, “The emperor has no clothes”- a lot of us don’t really believe, and you can tell from looking at our lives.

  • fascinating. noted another reason yesterday ||

  • Larry Barber

    How can you not know that Joseph Smith was a polygamist?

    It’s also interesting to look at the changes that the RLDS (now Community of Christ) has undergone. The RLDS are the Mormons that didn’t go to Utah but stayed in northwest Missouri.

    • Some keep tight reigns on their kids. Home schooling can make it easy.

  • DRT

    I thought the Mormon’s were forbidden from doing research and questioning the faith.

    • Jsmith

      Not true at all. In fact, we are supposed to question it — to seek answers for ourselves.

  • Now that the front runner is carved out, we get a story like this from Mr. Jones.

    Tony, you are not politically Falwellian? (I know it was your term, but I found it used back in 2004 in a newsgroup I think)

    I mean really. What does it matter anyways when “Love Wins”?

  • One very successful and erudite businessman who left the Mormon Church said that up to 80% of the people on the church membership rolls are “inactive” i.e., they no longer believe in the basic tenents of the Church, but, he said, it is easier to just leave it that way than to ask to have your names removed.

    Much of the “new growth” of LDS is in third world Countries; if you read the accounts of some former missionaries who later left the Church, they are under tremendous pressure to “gain converts” and often the ones they do get are poor & uneducated, and don’t remain active in the Church once the missionaries leave. Some of the “conversions” are genuine, but many more seem to be of a superficial nature.

    As far as inflating membership figures, they are certainly not as bad as Scientology (which claims millions of members worldwide but acutally has only a few thousand), but much of the growth is from Mormons having lots an lots of children; a certain percentage of them stay in the Church, but many don’t.

    There are many psychologically and emotionally healthy people in LDS, but they do not need the somewhat quirky Mormon belief system to be that way, and many eventually do find they they do even better with a more mature form of spirituality.