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What religious background has the highest probability of converting to Mormonism?


What religious background has the highest probability of converting to Mormonism?  

34 members have voted

  1. 1. Please choose the answer that best fits your position

    • Conservative Protestant (emphasis on Jesus as God, holds the Bible to be inerrant)
      9
    • Liberal Protestant (emphasis on social causes, does not consider the Bible inerrant)
      5
    • Catholic
      17
    • Non-Christian religion (e.g., Hindu, Muslim)
      1
    • No religious background or preference, atheist or agnostic
      2


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As LDS Church membership growth stalls and in some places declines (particularly in urban areas like Seattle), a number of explanations have been offered.  There’s been a lot of focus on availability of information via the internet, particularly regarding church history.  There’s also been a lot of discussion of Millennials and their preferences, which are often not well aligned with traditional LDS beliefs and culture.

But I wonder if part of the trouble isn’t related to a decline in the traditional candidate pool for LDS conversions.  In my experience, LDS converts often came from what I would call liberal Protestantism, mainline denominations many of which have been in steady decline in recent decades.  And if my observation is broadly true, then as they have declined the result has been a shrinking pool of promising candidates for LDS missionaries to draw from.  Implicit here is that the LDS message doesn’t resonate equally well across different groups (unless the candidate is only marginally engaged therein).

What do folks here think?  Does the LDS religion have a uniform appeal across religious backgrounds?  Or are some more likely, statistically speaking, to be receptive to the LDS message? 

--Erik

_______________________________________________

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday

--The Beatles, 1965

 

Edited by Five Solas
have not has
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I just came home from a baptism for a former Catholic who is from Brazil, I would say that religion as I think they are more of them than other groups, at least in North and South America

Edited by Duncan
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13 minutes ago, Five Solas said:

As LDS Church membership growth stalls and in some places declines (particularly in urban areas like Seattle), a number of explanations have been offered.  There’s been a lot of focus on availability of information via the internet, particularly regarding church history.  There’s also been a lot of discussion of Millennials and their preferences, which are often not well aligned with traditional LDS beliefs and culture.

But I wonder if part of the trouble isn’t related to a decline in the traditional candidate pool for LDS conversions.  In my experience, LDS converts often came from what I would call liberal Protestantism, mainline denominations many of which have been in steady decline in recent decades.  And if my observation is broadly true, then as they have declined the result has been a shrinking pool of promising candidates for LDS missionaries to draw from.  Implicit here is that the LDS message doesn’t resonate equally well across different groups (unless the candidate is only marginally engaged therein).

What do folks here think?  Does the LDS religion has a uniform appeal across religious backgrounds?  Or are some more likely, statistically speaking, to be receptive to the LDS message? 

--Erik

 

I would have to bet that worldwide, Catholic is probably the largest group we draw from.  The group that is hardest to draw from would be those who are agnostic/atheists.   The reality is the missionary message is not going to reach them at all.  Hard to get an atheist to follow the Moroni promise in the BOM when they don't even believe a God exists let alone be willing to pray to God for the answer.   The reality is the problems of church growth have little do to with the internet and church history.  More people are just comfortable with their lives and they don't care about religion or becoming a part of one.  They have not spent any time looking at LDS history as they are most vested in Twitter and Facebook.  I see the numbers to continue to decline in the future as the world continues to rot. Once the Lord sweeps the bulk of the wicked off the earth when he comes again, at that point things will really take off and fulfill the destiny of filling the whole earth.

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24 minutes ago, carbon dioxide said:

... The group that is hardest to draw from would be those who are agnostic/atheists.   The reality is the missionary message is not going to reach them at all.  Hard to get an atheist to follow the Moroni promise in the BOM when they don't even believe a God exists let alone be willing to pray to God for the answer. ...

I think this must make sense from an LDS perspective. 

From my perspective, when Joseph Smith wrote, he wrote with an assumption that his readers were familiar with Christianity.  I can't think of any exceptions to this.  The Book of Mormon wasn't intended to introduce anyone to Jesus.  Indeed, Moroni 10:4 assumes "faith in Christ" as a prerequisite.  The BoM is intended as a 200 level course.  Which is its immediate undoing in the hands of someone with no such familiarity or conviction. 

--Erik

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Which is its immediate undoing in the hands of someone with no such familiarity or conviction. 

Unless you think there is some roadblock to teaching atheists/agnostics or other nonChristians about Christ and Christianity, I don't see the issue.

Missionaries taught Chinese immigrants in our Canadian ward, quite a few atheists with cultural background in Buddhism.  We had one family over for the first lesson or two.  Started with teaching the Bible, the first lesson was the creation by God  as well as what and who God was to us with the intent to move once they were comfortable with the very basics to the Second Witness of Jesus Christ.  The BoM was taught as part of the story from the beginning even if the 'plot line' of it and the restoration weren't shared till the foundation was laid (the very basic that we were different from other Christian groups and we believe we had a living prophet was shared, but the concept of a prophet had to be taught along with the concept of God).  When teaching of Christ's life and teachings, the BoM was going to be heavily used there, I was told.  We didn't get to be part of those discussions though.

Husband never joined (he did his major wheeling and dealing with China and was not available on Sundays to go to church...plus not really into learning about morality or integrity, unlike most immigrants I met; his wife was really sweet and was baptized or close to baptism, but we moved and lost the connection (through the local missionaries since we didn't speak her language and she was barely starting on English).

My nephew went up to Calgary to the Mandarin iirc speaking mission there a few years after we moved practically next door to his family.  I believe he taught quite a few of both Christian Chinese and those who had very little exposure to Christianity.  

Edited by Calm
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2 hours ago, carbon dioxide said:

I would have to bet that worldwide, Catholic is probably the largest group we draw from. ....................................

Sounds likely to me, but we need per capita figures from all the various missions to make an accurate estimate.  The LDS faith is growing most quickly in Africa, and that is not primarily Roman Catholic in background.  At the same time, conversion appears to be stagnant in Western Europe simply because of contempt for religion in general.  What is interesting in Western Europe is that grad students from the Chinese mainland are more likely to listen to the LDS missionaries and accept baptism, then going home to China later and converting their own families.  Oddly enough, convert baptism rates are highest in Utah, perhaps because the potential converts experience Mormon culture up close and personal.  I have met several non-Mormons here in Utah Valley who moved here specifically to get away from the rat race elsewhere.  Perhaps they self-select for admiration of the Mormon community, and are not then disappointed.

So willingness even to listen to the missionaries is key, and fundamentalist evangelical christians have so much antipathy for Mormons that they seem unlikely to be willing to hear Mormon missionaries -- unless as a Bible bash session in which they throw prooftexts at one another.

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Maybe I am wrong about what I am going to write. I have attended church in three western countries and in one country I attended in three very different regions.   I am not blaming anyone as I am an old man now and know that life can be pretty tough.  What I saw was that the greatest missionary power lies in the happiness of the members.  What I also saw over the time from joining at 17 years old to now in my sixties was

less and less members being very happy at all.  Many have strong faith but the happiness does not shine forth like before. This is a great challenge and perhaps the greatest woe of the church in our time. Anyway it is what I feel I could be mistaken.

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3 hours ago, Five Solas said:

I think this must make sense from an LDS perspective. 

From my perspective, when Joseph Smith wrote, he wrote with an assumption that his readers were familiar with Christianity.  I can't think of any exceptions to this.  The Book of Mormon wasn't intended to introduce anyone to Jesus.  Indeed, Moroni 10:4 assumes "faith in Christ" as a prerequisite.  The BoM is intended as a 200 level course.  Which is its immediate undoing in the hands of someone with no such familiarity or conviction. 

--Erik

Actually if you read William James, it would be agnostics who understand pragmatic philosophy.  If there is no such thing as definable "truth" then the best we can do is to go by our feelings of what works in our lives to give them meaning.  You create your own meaning in life, or metaphorically as a god of your own universe, you take matter unorganized and create your own truth

That is straight Alma 32 and Moroni 10: 4,  1James 5, etc.  Meditation - as in Mindfulness etc fits well with Moroni 10 - not as "asking God" but the idea that truth is found by looking within.

That was the path I took- I was an atheist who thought that God was a projection which was man made.  Then in Mormonism I found I had it backwards- mankind is a God-made projection of a Human God

But in practice, I think Catholics are the most likely to join.  I can't count the number of times I have heard "Well, it's gotta be either the Catholics or the Mormons" since we are the only two Christian groups which claim to have direct authority in the Priesthood from Christ himself.

I don't think it is likely for a Mormon to become Catholic on the other hand, since belief in the Trinity is not an easy one to swallow as well as transubstantiation etc.   Just my opinion.

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I think it's those who are most sincere in their investigation and most open to the spirit.

That is regardless of any specific belief system.  But it may be that a larger percent of a specific belief system fall into that category than others.

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8 hours ago, Five Solas said:

As LDS Church membership growth stalls and in some places declines (particularly in urban areas like Seattle), a number of explanations have been offered.  There’s been a lot of focus on availability of information via the internet, particularly regarding church history.

Reports of the Church's imminent demise have been around since the mid 1830's. Local statistical blips like those in Seattle are gleefully seized upon as if they represent the beginning of a world-wide trend.

And yes, there is rather a lot of self-congratulation in some circles about the idea that the "information" available on the internet is what's doing it. However, given the startlingly low signal-to-noise ratio found on the anti-Mormon web, that doesn't seem especially likely.

8 hours ago, Five Solas said:

  There’s also been a lot of discussion of Millennials and their preferences, which are often not well aligned with traditional LDS beliefs and culture.

Intuitively, large-scale societal trends would seem likely to be more significant influences than little coteries of obsessive haters.

8 hours ago, Five Solas said:

But I wonder if part of the trouble isn’t related to a decline in the traditional candidate pool for LDS conversions.  In my experience, LDS converts often came from what I would call liberal Protestantism, mainline denominations many of which have been in steady decline in recent decades.  And if my observation is broadly true, then as they have declined the result has been a shrinking pool of promising candidates for LDS missionaries to draw from.  Implicit here is that the LDS message doesn’t resonate equally well across different groups (unless the candidate is only marginally engaged therein).

What do folks here think?  Does the LDS religion have a uniform appeal across religious backgrounds?  Or are some more likely, statistically speaking, to be receptive to the LDS message? 

In my experience, regardless of the formal religious background, the LDS message will resonate with anyone who is sincerely interested in learning the Lord's will and carrying it out.

Traditional conservative Protestants have always been a fruitful field, and I expect will continue to be so.

 

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Maybe there's another way to get at this: look at what group makes the biggest online stink about Mormons and things Mormon, and, on the principal that Mormon 🐑-stealing is the primary motivation for said stink, and you have your likeliest candidate.

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10 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Actually if you read William James, it would be agnostics who understand pragmatic philosophy.  If there is no such thing as definable "truth" then the best we can do is to go by our feelings of what works in our lives to give them meaning.  You create your own meaning in life, or metaphorically as a god of your own universe, you take matter unorganized and create your own truth

That is straight Alma 32 and Moroni 10: 4,  1James 5, etc.  Meditation - as in Mindfulness etc fits well with Moroni 10 - not as "asking God" but the idea that truth is found by looking within.

That was the path I took- I was an atheist who thought that God was a projection which was man made.  Then in Mormonism I found I had it backwards- mankind is a God-made projection of a Human God

But in practice, I think Catholics are the most likely to join.  I can't count the number of times I have heard "Well, it's gotta be either the Catholics or the Mormons" since we are the only two Christian groups which claim to have direct authority in the Priesthood from Christ himself.

I don't think it is likely for a Mormon to become Catholic on the other hand, since belief in the Trinity is not an easy one to swallow as well as transubstantiation etc.   Just my opinion.

Great points, and I love William James work! A few comments I’d like to point out, even though it’s not too common to hear of people leaving Mormonism for Catholicism or Orthodoxy, it is a thing (I posted a Trib article on this last spring). They joined for the exact reason you stated, feeling the authority never left. I’ve talked to a handful, and it seemed they left for historical reasons (not necessarily LDS history but reading patristics and the like). Interesting to me they still seemed pleasant people after their conversions and weren’t angry or hateful towards their former faith.

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To answer the OP I would say by far the group I saw baptized the most on my mission in Iowa were people from Mainline denominations (especially Methodists). However I also met a great deal of converts from more a intensely Conservative background such as the Baptists and Pentecostals. It seems they took the Bible very seriously and wanted a greater depth of relationship with God, and found it through the LDS faith.

I recall a member of the bishopric in one of our wards in Iowa found out the church they’d been faithfully attending had some major scandals going on and couldn’t feel they should attend anymore. They prayed for help in finding a church that they could attend and not much later the missionaries came to their door in what they felt was an answer to prayer. I’m personally aware of at least two other people with similar experiences one wanting help with not committing suicide and one who wanted to quit drugs and find help from God. Both times the missionaries showed up very shortly after their prayer.

I realize I’m probably droning on, but I share this because it seems those who respond the most are those that really want help in my experience.

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I don't really know, but I've seen more Catholic converts than any other. If I had to guess a reason it would be because Catholics don't hear as much anti-Mormon stuff as the conservative protestants, but Catholics are still conservative enough not to be turned off by conservationism in Mormonism. I haven't seen any converts from mainline protestant denominations, I suspect because they tend to be more liberal.

But a more likely explanation is I haven't been exposed to a large enough pool of converts to get a sense of who is converting from where.

Edited by Gray
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12 hours ago, Metis_LDS said:

Maybe I am wrong about what I am going to write. I have attended church in three western countries and in one country I attended in three very different regions.   I am not blaming anyone as I am an old man now and know that life can be pretty tough.  What I saw was that the greatest missionary power lies in the happiness of the members.  What I also saw over the time from joining at 17 years old to now in my sixties was

less and less members being very happy at all.  Many have strong faith but the happiness does not shine forth like before. This is a great challenge and perhaps the greatest woe of the church in our time. Anyway it is what I feel I could be mistaken.

Agree.

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2 hours ago, USU78 said:

Maybe there's another way to get at this: look at what group makes the biggest online stink about Mormons and things Mormon, and, on the principal that Mormon 🐑-stealing is the primary motivation for said stink, and you have your likeliest candidate.

?

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I have to agree with the catholic response. It may be that it is because there are so many of them, especially in S. America where I was, that the sheer numbers clouds the outcome. However, making the claim that it is either the catholics or mormons due to authority was always a nice selling point. It gave the potential convert a reason to disgard familial pressures to remain catholic and investigate mormonism, especially since a lot were already looking for a reason to leave catholicism.

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I gave serious consideration to LDS claims as a conservative Protestant. But that was twenty-five years ago, before the author of Offended For a Word was active at ZLMB, and when the author of Mormon Doctrine was revered instead of reviled. It seemed to me that men like that adequately answered the claims posed by the anti-Mormons, whether it be about Mountain Meadows, blacks in the priesthood, polygamy, or Book of Mormon historicity. There was never a problem for me, until moving away from the Latter-day Church, it was time to demonstrate an apostasy of the Former-day Church. 

I don't think apologetics even matter anymore, much less whether the apostasy is true or not. "Truth claims" become unimportant unless there are objective ways to weigh the claims. Members of churches that once made truth claims have embraced a viewpoint that is skeptical about truth claims. They believe it is true that we cannot know the truth. As a result, like modern Catholics, modern Mormons seem to distance themselves from the faith and history of even the most recent generations of their fathers. If there is such a thing as apostasy, that is my definition. Falling away.

As a former conservative Protestant and now a Traditional Catholic, I could not be interested in a religion that has changed into something that would have appalled its forefathers.

If a church isn't one and true, I'll find a TV, and watch football all day on Sundays.

PS: In the 21st Century, I voted liberal Protestant. It depends on the beliefs of the missionaries. When it gets to the point that the missionaries are selling skepticism about one true church, I think Liberal Protestants are the best bet.

Edited by 3DOP
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21 hours ago, Five Solas said:

I think this must make sense from an LDS perspective. 

From my perspective, when Joseph Smith wrote, he wrote with an assumption that his readers were familiar with Christianity.  I can't think of any exceptions to this.  The Book of Mormon wasn't intended to introduce anyone to Jesus.  Indeed, Moroni 10:4 assumes "faith in Christ" as a prerequisite.  The BoM is intended as a 200 level course.  Which is its immediate undoing in the hands of someone with no such familiarity or conviction. 

--Erik

It is interesting to think about how "Moroni's Promise" would work if it were being used by other religions in an attempt to get me to believe in their claims.

For example, suppose the Scientologists abandoned their "Alma 32" approach of getting people to try their tech and then drawing them in more and more as they see positive results, and instead decided they were going to claim that simply by reading Dianetics, the feelings you get would confirm that not only was L. Ron Hubbard right, but that Xenu exists and L. Ron Hubbard's claims about the origin of the Earth are also correct (claims which are now hidden from members until they are many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in)?

What kind of feeling would it take for me to believe the claims of L. Ron Hubbard?  And if I knew nothing about him, would that change the way I approach the "test" compared with my current knowledge about his life and dealings?  I don't know, but I can understand why it would be so hard to convince someone of the claims of Mormonism based on the feeling they get when reading the Book of Mormon, and why it might be a lot harder if they know about the imperfections of Joseph Smith and early Church leaders.

 

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3 hours ago, 3DOP said:

PS: In the 21st Century, I voted liberal Protestant. It depends on the beliefs of the missionaries. When it gets to the point that the missionaries are selling skepticism about one true church, I think Liberal Protestants are the best bet.

When?

Don't you mean If?

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