By Kent Larsen
Mauss Says LDS Church Growth Brings Problems Too
OREM, UTAH -- Sociologist Armand Mauss, who has made a career of studying the LDS Church, gave the inaugural lecture on Mormon Culture at Utah Valley
State College last Wednesday. The lecture is the first in a series on Mormon
Culture sponsored by UVSC's Religious Studies program. Mauss addressed the well-known prediction that the LDS Church will pass 250 million members by 2080, telling attendees
Wednesday that many hurdles lie in the way of reaching that milestone.
"We like to think we are a worldwide church, but we're not. We are a
hemisphere church. We ought to be, I think, a little bit more humble about
how we describe our present score geographically," Mauss said, pointing out
that 85% of LDS Church members are concentrated in the Western Hemisphere.
Mauss also made the point that local cultures lay beneath many of these
hurdles. Religion is intertwined with education, employment and family life
in many cultures. "Where does that leave the Mormons? Sort of out in the
cold in a lot of ways," Mauss said. "This means that membership in the LDS
Church is very costly" in those countries.
He also sees difficulties due to the way the LDS Church is perceived, noting
that even in the US, many people still see Mormons as a cult, "There is a
real need for the church to have a public-relations program that will
provide a kind of spin of respectability on what is put out because you're
not going to get it in the local presses." In some areas of the world,
Mormonism is seen as an extension of America, "Wherever America as a world
power engenders hostility, Mormons will share that hostility," Mauss said.
But Mauss also sees positive factors that will help the LDS Church grow,
including worldwide migration, which separates people from their roots, and
worldwide interest in the English language and in the American way of life.
Growth of LDS Church has upside, downside
Deseret News 25Nov00 N1
By Christi C. Babbit: Deseret News staff writer
Members must find way to retain converts