Mormonism is declining

Good. Can they die a little faster, please?

I always felt that living in Utah was like living in a nest of Scientologists — all this money-making scheming plastered over with a veneer of florid scripture written by a mountebank. I wouldn’t miss it if it disappeared altogether.

That’s nothing special about Mormonism, though. Look! All religions in the USA are dying slowly.

There are many factors behind this decline. Here’s one:

Meanwhile, the church’s close alliance with the GOP might be costing it members. As Notre Dame political science professor David Campbell, who was raised Mormon, told me, “There’s an allergic reaction among many Americans — particularly those who lean to the left politically — when religion and politics mix. We see it among Catholics. We see it among evangelicals. And we’re seeing it among Mormons.”

It gets messy when you include politics, though: the Republicans have become increasingly cult-like. That’s the next religion that needs to go!


  1. StevoR says

    ‘Bout bloody time!

    Why was it ever credible and popular~iash fro certain values thereof and a thing in the first place?

    A for religion declining in general – 5 words : those child sex abuse scandals?

    The idea of any religion have any credibility or moral high ground after so very awfully many of those, well, FFS, NO!

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    There’s an allergic reaction among many Americans — particularly those who lean to the left politically — when religion and politics mix.

    And that’s a “bad” thing?

  3. whywhywhy says

    I don’t know if I can trust these numbers. If one asks the Catholic Church if I am still Catholic they will say yes, because I was baptized and confirmed within the church. For my many siblings only one is still Catholic, the rest are not even christian. I was expecting the the Catholic percentage to be even lower based on my own lived anecdote.

  4. raven says

    I always felt that living in Utah was like living in a nest of Scientologists…

    Or like living in a state completely dominated and controlled by Mormons.

    I’ve had relatives in Utah forever and used to spend a lot of time in the state.
    It’s one of my favorite places, spectacular outdoors with 5 National Parks and the rest of the state could be another one.

    The Mormons weren’t the best part.
    A also had a lot of friends there for one reason or another. The University of Utah has a strong science and medical orientation, which is why PZ was there.

    One by one over the years, they all left. All of them, every single one of them.
    It was the Mormons.
    They got tired of being second class citizens and discriminated against by the majority Mormons. The Mormon church owns the state government and all they do is whatever the Mormon church wants them to do.

    Some of them had kids and didn’t want to bring them up in Utah.
    They own the schools too, so even atheists send their kids to private religious schools.

  5. raven says

    Utah is 60% Mormon.
    The state legislature is 88% Mormon.

    Utah is gerrymandered by religion and the GOP, which in Utah are one and the same.
    All their Federal elected officials are…Mormon.

  6. wzrd1 says

    Religionism is slowly declining, at around the population growth rate.
    We need only to remain patient and simply outlive the assholes.

    And given that the last Mormon I met was a chap who tried to drop a 90 pound fileserver onto my foot while we were trying to rack it, I suspect that given weakness, their survival won’t be all that long.
    Oddly, that server, which dutifully chipped the concrete floor and bent a set of mounting ears, was my best running Xeon server. I managed to jump out of the way in time, he ran from the server room.
    Pity, I was going to use his teeth to straighten the bent lug ears, had to use my Gerber multitool instead.
    As a timeframe, that was back when we still used SCSI hard drives and a terabyte was a lot of storage space.
    And electricity was still fairly new, so the server room still had that new electron smell…
    And Joey Smith’s golden books were still invisible.

  7. says

    I mentioned Jacques Vallee, the French UFO enthusiast, in a recent comment. Apparently he takes Joseph Smith’ s story at face value, and considers it possible evidence of his idea of otherworldly forces doing whatever it is to humanity. Instead of taking the common non-Mormon position that Smith was just a conman who got lucky for a while, and his encounters with the angel Moroni and the magic gold plates Moroni showed him were made up.

    (One thing Smith couldn’t do was predict the future, or he would have known that the word moron would appear circa 1910 and make the name of his supposed angel an object of mockery by some.)

  8. wzrd1 says

    Oh, a bit of trivia.
    One of the top names on the federal no-fly list: Joe Smith.
    I wish that I was making that up, but well, real life is rife with irony.

  9. René says

    When I hear /mormon/ or read ⟨mormon⟩, I think reformed Egyptian. ’nuff said.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    I would not call the scripture “florid”. More “leaden”.
    And it is full of repetitions, since Smith ran out of imagination.

    It looks like ca. one third has disappeared since 2008.
    And the church is a gerontocracy, so its leaders cannot adapt rapidly to a changing world.

  11. mordred says

    We don’t have many Mormons around here. But the German Catholic church is celebrating a fantastic 2022 which saw over 520000 people leaving, topping the previous year’s 360000.
    Okay, they aren’t exactly celebrating.
    Maybe the clergy shouldn’t have protected all these child rapists…

  12. moonslicer says

    When I left the Southern Baptist Church, I didn’t make a spectacle of it. I just quietly walked out and never went back.

    I used to wonder how I stood with that church. Did they still have me in their records? Did they still consider me a member?

    Then one day, out of curiosity, I googled the church to see how it was getting on. I discovered that membership had declined so far that the church had disbanded. They sold out to some crowd that was turning the buildings into a Christian academy. They were even building a football stadium on the property.

    So I got to wondering if the academy had inherited the church’s records as part of the deal. Would you still find my name in some musty, dusty old folder lying around the attic? If by some weird chance I end up at the pearly gates, could I insist on St. Peter’s checking all the records before he sends me away for all eternity?

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    birgerjohansson @ # 12: And it is full of repetitions, since Smith ran out of imagination.

    Give the guy a break! He had set things up so that he was dictating a whole book to a scribe while pretending to read text through a magical crystal in a hat, with little or no practice. No corrections or do-overs, lest the scribe lose faith.

    Even experienced and literate authors who dictated all their later works, such as Erle Stanley Gardner, went back to do some editing. Poor Joseph Smith had to roll with his first draft.

  14. raven says

    I just quietly walked out and never went back.

    One of the way you can tell an abusive cult from a…nonabusive cult, I guess, is how easy it is to leave.

    The Mormon church makes it as difficult as possible.
    One of they very serious sins in their mythology is denying that the church is true while being a true blue Mormon. It’s one of the few ways to end up in Hell. Even Hitler is in one of their 3 heavens. This is a threat. It’s terrorism.
    To be sure, to nonbelievers it isn’t much of a threat, siccing their imaginary friend on us.

    More serious because it involves the Real World, is when you leave Mormonism behind, you quite often leave all your family and friends behind as well. It’s a high price to pay and keeps a lot of people in the church. I’m sure at least a few of them stopped believing their baroque mythology long ago but stay for the social support system.

    And, it was the same for my natal church, liberal Mainline Protestant.
    I just wandered off and I doubt anyone even noticed or cared.
    AFAIK, I’m still on the rolls as a baptized, confirmed member whose location is currently unknown and no one cares enough to Google it.

  15. raven says

    If anyone thinks it is sort of low class to make fun of the Mormons, don’t bother.

    Many or most of them don’t like non-Mormons either.
    They can be real bigots without even thinking about it.

    .1 They claim to be the Real Jews, god’s chosen people.
    Everyone else including those people in Israel are…Gentiles.

    .2. A Mormon woman I once worked with told me that satan didn’t care about me/us…the Pagans and Gentiles.
    Because we were already doomed by not being Mormon believers and were too easy to subvert to bother with, no challenge whatsoever. We weren’t worth bothering with.
    There was zero way for us to go to the Celestial Kingdom and be gods (male) or mega-breeders (female).

    That is why satan spends all his time trying to get Mormons to do bad things like drink wine or leave the church.

    I still laugh when I think about that conversation.

  16. says

    The Morons will never be defeated since they are protected by their magic underwear (EWWWW!) and their unconquerable arrogance. Members of our organization have had MANY terrible personal experiences with the LDS (Lying Deceitful Scum). In the 1970s they held a (propaganda) get together for our college choir at their ‘institute of religion’. When I said to one of them ‘I’ll let Huey know.’ (He was a specific choir member friend of mine.) They said, ‘don’t worry, we’ll handle inviting him’. Later I found that they made sure he wasn’t aware of the event. When I asked, they gave me a line of BS and a copy of their book explaining why. The book was ‘the church and the negro’. Huey was black. Coincidence?
    In our publications, we clearly state that we respect people when they demonstrate honesty, caring and good moral character; no matter what their belief system. But, we cannot respect any supernatural, superstitious, hateful, bigoted, fictitious bullshit their religion espouses.

  17. moonslicer says

    @ raven #16

    “One of the way you can tell an abusive cult from a…nonabusive cult, I guess, is how easy it is to leave.”

    This was a church in the late 60’s before the Southern Baptists went off the deep end.

    One point of comparison I always make is the new pastor the church hired during that time–around 40, I’d say, married with two teenaged sons, very attractive family. We young people liked him a lot. We thought he was “neat”.

    Then some time after I left home and the church, he was discovered having an affair with a married woman (actually the mother of a good friend of mine). That was it for him. He didn’t wait for the church to vote him out. Apparently that was it for his marriage as well. He packed up his stuff, went off to another city and got into marriage counseling of all things. In retrospect it was clear that he was in the process of shedding his religious faith.

    Compare that to Trump’s marital history, which has never been an impediment to the Christian right in their support for him. In the old days, as conservative as the Baptists were, they had some standards. There is no way that the people of my church would have supported a Donald Trump. They’d have seen him for the monster he was, and they’d have treated him accordingly.

    Another point is that as conservative as my dad always was, in those days he thought you were daft if you didn’t favor some kind of gun control. I don’t know what his views on the issue were later on, because I’m pretty sure he voted for Trump. He declined along with the church.

    All this was before the advent of Ronald Raygun, which I suppose might be regarded as the beginning of the calamitous downhill slide of the American Christian right.

  18. drew says

    As an actual leftist, cultish as the Republicans may be, I feel the Democrats are a throng on a witch hunt. They have strange purity tests – pass or be vilified. They insist on silencing their accused while they tell all manner of strange stories about them. No defense is allowed – guilt is a thing already “known” somehow by “true Democrats.”

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail is supposed to be a comedy, not a how-to documentary.

  19. says

    @20 moonslicer also talked about the religious without any morals. There seems to be an ongoing general increase in the number of people whose support for any organization or individual NEVER includes any concern for how decent, moral, ethical or caring they are. I see less and less accountability for immoral, unethical, hateful and even criminal behavior (looking at you, J. Roberts of the SCROTUM 6). I see this as s further sign of societal deterioration.

  20. wsierichs says

    I read a good bit of the Book of Mormon some years ago as research for a book I wrote. The book is so obviously phony that it’s difficult to imagine anyone believing it. One of the biggest problems for anyone interested in the relevant facts, the book claims that – this is a simplified summary – all of the original inhabitants of the Americas were white, but after decades of evil behavior, when the immoral group defeated the moral servants of God, that being turned the immoral winners’ skin red, creating the Indians.

    Anyone who takes at least one college course about the Native Americans, taught by a recognized professional historian, knows that Joseph Smith’s book is pure fiction, a fantasy without the slightest relationship to the known, documented history of the Native Americans. I’m including DNA studies, studies of materials left by long-dead peoples etc. as history given that we lack written material for much of the natives backgrounds.. Smith simply drew on the Jewish and Christian scriptures to spin out a fairy tale from his imagination combined with stories from the scriptures..

  21. silvrhalide says

    @8 All the religious cults like Mormonism are declining, partly because people (younger people) are leaving and partly because most of the nuttier fringe Christian groups eventually succumb to lethal genes in a closed population. Check out the Amish and the Mennonites, both of whom were featured in National Geographic’s genetics issue (this would have been around the time of the Human Genome Project). Their populations were declining due to lack of reproductive healthy females–NG featured photos of young undersized girls whose lethal genetic disease stunted their growth and would kill them mostly before they hit puberty. Sad for the kids, eminently foreseeable for anyone who doesn’t think that science equals voodoo and who also understands that starting with a small populations and then inbreeding for a few centuries will eventually cause said population to cease to exist.
    Mormonism is on the same track, they just got a later start. For all their careful genealogy records and extensive overbreeding, they are still doomed by Malthusian population math. The cold equations of the universe don’t give a shit about what your magical invisible sky friend thinks. Or “writes”.

    @13 The German Catholic Church has been declining ever since Martin Luther nailed a certain document to the church door, split from the Catholic Church (over indulgences and other religious money making scams, to be fair) and created Lutheranism.

    @16 The fundamentalist splinter group Mormons are functionally the Christian version of Saudi Arabian Wahhabism. Women have no rights, can’t leave, can’t control their own money (assuming they have any at all) and frequently are the victims of identity theft, in the sense that their financial history is 1) largely fiction and 2) not created by them but usually by their husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles, etc., which makes it very hard to leave the cult. Even assuming that they could physically leave (not all who want to leave can), where would they go with no education, no work history, no credit history and a ton of kids? If they have jobs at all, they are usually in the community and frequently are paid in script, which can only be used locally (which is also illegal, BTW) instead of USD, so where would they go, with no actual money? Unless they get outside help, it is nearly impossible to leave the cult, if you are a woman.

    FWIW, I’ve met a few Mormons (I live in a blue state, so there aren’t a lot of them here) and they were actually really nice people but they were also people on a slow quiet slide out of the church. I got the feeling that they didn’t want to cut ties formally with the church because they had siblings and other relatives they loved but face it, if they were true believers, they would not have migrated 1500 miles to a state with no Mormon church. I suspect they aren’t tithing either but they did send money back to some relatives. I don’t doubt for a minute that the true believers are nasty pieces of work, but that’s more or less true for any fundamentalist cult.

  22. badland says

    Drew is a classic useful idiot for the right, assuming Drew is actually a leftist. Every comment of theirs I remember is a bleating accusation of how the left is AKSHUALLY just as bad.

    Imagine standing in a puddle of your own cooling piss, looking at the modern Republican Party, and accusing the left of witch hunts and silencing dissent. That’s our Drew!

    Actually I can drop the useful. Idiot works just fine.

  23. whheydt says

    Re: Raven @ #16…
    (Sorry about the false start.) Find and read Patricia Nielson Hayden’s essay “God and I” about how she got herself kicked out of the Mormon church. Among other places, the essay is in her collection, Making Book.

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    whheydt @28: That’s Teresa Nielsen Hayden, spouse of Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

  25. StevoR says

    @ 21. drew :

    As an actual leftist,..

    You think you’re what and why? What is an “actual leftist” here and how do you decide who is or isn’t in that category?

    .. cultish as the Republicans may be, I feel the Democrats are a throng on a witch hunt.

    So.. literal Trumpist rhetoric. Witch hunt huh? Who is being called a witch or hunted here? The reichwing are demonising – in some cases quite literally – and harrassing people. You think the left is doing likewise to who and how?

    They have strange purity tests – pass or be vilified. They insist on silencing their accused while they tell all manner of strange stories about them.

    What “Purity Tests” do you refer to exactly? Which “strange stories” about which äccused? Specifics and examples please.

    No defense is allowed – guilt is a thing already “known” somehow by “true Democrats.”

    Citation needed. Sounds like utter cow chutney to me.

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail is supposed to be a comedy, not a how-to documentary.

    MP&THG is my second fave comedy to Monty Python’s LIfe of Brian. So which things in that are you referring to Drew -presumably the witch hunt sketch but who is supposedly made of wood and weighs as much as a duck here?

    Have you turned into a newt and will you get better?

  26. wzrd1 says

    @ 11, “reformed Egyptian”, no those are Coptics.

    StevoR, arguing against the No True Scotsman? Let me know how that works out for you.

  27. mordred says

    @25: “The German Catholic Church has been declining ever since Martin Luther nailed a certain document to the church door”
    The German Protestant Church isn’t doing much better. The haven’t lost as many members recently, but they had a head start and currently got less members then the Catholics.

  28. says

    Drew is a classic useful idiot for the right, assuming Drew is actually a leftist.

    I doubt he is, because most of the people to the left of, say, Richard Nixon, tend to label ourselves a bit more precisely than “leftist” — i.e., liberal, progressive, Keynesian, New-Deal, social-democrat, socialist, communist, etc. Most of the blog-commenters who call themselves things like “leftist” or “lefty-liberal” always follow such self-labeling with some insanely right-wing or anti-liberal bullshit assertion.

  29. weylguy says

    Oh no! How can we live without the Golden Tablets, reformed Egyptian, the Kinderhook Plates, the Book of Abraham. the White Salamander and all those fabulously great but as-yet undiscovered ancient Mormon cities, not to mention the undiscovered archaeological artifacts of the great wars that the Mormons fought right here in North America?

  30. wzrd1 says

    I’m sure someone would be more than happy to supply a fresh list of unicorn farts for everyone to believe in.

  31. mikeymeitbual says

    I grew up in it. My family still supports it and while I love them, it’s hard for me to not grab them by the shoulders and ask “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?” It’s a cult that protects old men from the legal consequences of their depraved abusive acts against children. The idea that participating in it is morally neutral is absurd and an argument beneath any actually decent person.