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Europe and Mormon Growth

Another dynamic concerns the temple. Jan Shipps has argued that the temple will increasingly become the focus of Mormon belonging. This shift allows the church to promote multiple centres of identification in disparate areas. Yet, Bennion & Young's research has observed serious challenges in areas outside of the U.S. with retaining potential Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Consequently, potential tithe-payers and temple recommend holders are being steadily lost. Temples will continue to be U.S.-centric unless the church develops and diversifies its temple building activity. The ‘great symbol of our membership' will be in paper only and not inscribed upon the bodies and identities of these international Saints unless temple worship is made more readily available. However, even if these temples are offered, as they have been, finding people to regularly go is increasingly difficult with low activity rates.

Consequently, the future of Mormonism in Europe seems neither exciting nor hopeful. Though religious tolerance may increase while social stigma decreases, I suspect that growth will be slow, if at all. Further as the church's general leadership increasingly emphasises other parts of the world, the special peculiarity of being Mormon will cease to be an indication of "chosenness." Rather, European Mormons will come to feel just plain "peculiar."

Aaron Reeves is currently completing a Ph.D. in Sociology with the Institute for Social and Economic Research. When he is not writing for By Common Consent, a Mormon-themed blog, he teaches courses on the Sociology of Health and Illness and Research Methods. He lives in Romford, England with his wife and two children.

8/9/2010 4:00:00 AM