SBC Life Articles

Bizarre Theology Does Not Prevent Mormonism’s Growth

Mormons have grown to 9.7 million members worldwide since 1820, when Joseph Smith told of having a vision of "two Personages" who instructed him not to join any existing church because they were "all wrong," their members were "all corrupt," and their creeds were an "abomination in (the Lord's) sight."

Utah and other western states remain Mormonism's "breadbasket" numerically and financially in the U.S., said Sandra Tanner, co-director of Utah Lighthouse Ministries, Salt Lake City, during a Denominational Summit on Mormonism at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference Center.

But the Mormon church, or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now reports more members outside the United States — 4.9 million, compared to its U.S. membership of 4.8 million — according to their own statistical reports. Most of the non-U.S. Mormons are in Latin America.

Of the 1.2 million people in the Greater Salt Lake Basin, Herb Stoneman, evangelism consultant for the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, cited estimates that 200,000 are Mormons known as "temple worthy," with access to temple rites, and 200,000 are otherwise counted as active in their Mormon wards.

Another 300,000 are non-Mormons, he noted, while nearly 400,000 are inactive Mormons, Stoneman noted.

In worldwide statistics, the top four countries in Mormon membership after the United States are Mexico, with 760,000 Mormons; Brazil, 585,000; Chile, 410,000; and the Philippines, 370,000.

Other Mormon geographic statistics include South America, minus Brazil and Chile, 1 million; Central America, minus Mexico, 370,000; Australia and New Zealand, 170,000 combined; United Kingdom and Ireland, 170,000 combined; Europe, 190,000; Canada, 150,000; Asia, 240,000; South Pacific, minus the Philippines, 160,000; and Africa, 110,000.

Mormon membership is six times larger than in 1960, when it stood at 1.5 million worldwide, Tanner said. Mormons add a new convert every two minutes and the equivalent of a new congregation every day, she said. Most new converts come through member referrals, she said, while their 50,000 missionaries average one convert for each 1,000 residences they visit.



Prayer for Mormons and Those Who Witness to Them

The following prayer requests were shared during the Denominational Summit on Mormonism:

• Pray for the Christian churches in Utah as they attempt to reach Mormons and other non-believers;

• Pray for friends and family members who are ensnared by the attractive nature of Mormonism but are unaware of its unbiblical doctrines;

• Pray for Mormons who are contemplating leaving the church;

• Pray for God's anointing of plans and materials prepared for use to witness to Mormons and other non-believers during the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention;

• Pray for God's protection of Southern Baptists who go to Salt Lake City prepared to witness effectively to the lost in that city.



Mormonism: Learn More About It

Those interested in more information on the Mormon Church, its history, practices, and beliefs, might obtain the following materials or contact the ministries listed below:

The Mormon Puzzle: Understanding and Witnessing to Latter-day Saints. Alpharetta, GA.: North American Mission Board, SBC, 1997.

• Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1985

• Morey, Robert. How to Answer a Mormon. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1983.

• Smith, John L. Has Mormonism Changed … Now? Marlow, Okla.: Utah Missions, 1979.

• Spencer, James. Have You Witnessed to a Mormon Lately? Old Tappen, N.J.: Fleming Revell Co, 1986.

• Tanner, Jerald and Sandra. The Changing World of Mormonism. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980.

• Tanner, Jerald and Sandra. Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1982.

Interfaith Witness Department
North American Mission Board, SBC
4200 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022
(770) 410-6000

Utah Lighthouse Ministries
1358 S. West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84110
(801) 485-8894

Utah Missions
Box 348
Marlow, OK 73055
(800) 654-3992