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Posted by: Tall Man, Short Hair ( )
Date: May 03, 2012 12:29AM

I went back and decided to crunch the numbers for myself. Here are the actual numbers cited in the study at http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/D_1117.asp:


1990 4,267,000
2000 5,208,827


As you can see, the church's self-reported numbers for 1990 and 2000 are in alignment with what we've been talking about.

The problem is with the press release issued by the reporting agency, The Association of Religion Data Archives. Specifically, their reporter, David Briggs. Here's the report he authored that is being reported globally: http://blogs.thearda.com/trend/featured/diversity-rising-census-shows-mormons-nondenominational-churches-muslims-spreading-out-across-u-s/

This press release is the culprit. Not the church, and not Peggy Fletcher Stack. Mr. Briggs compared 20 years of membership growth and attributed it in his article to 10 years.

The core data is correct and reflects the actual smaller growth we all realize to be accurate. Mr. Briggs made an error in his reporting.

That said, it should be noted that Mr. Briggs is a very respected journalist and I believe this was an honest -- albeit massive -- mistake. I have a feeling he will remember this day for the rest of his life.

ARDA lists a phone number and email address on their website. I called tonight and left a very polite message informing them that Mr. Briggs appears to have inadvertently attributed 20 years of growth to a 10 year period for the church. I also sent an email to that effect. It may be a good idea for all of us to leave similar messages and emails. Here's the contact info:


E-mail: support@thearda.com
Phone: 814-865-6258
Fax: 814-863-7216

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Posted by: hello ( )
Date: May 03, 2012 02:04AM

So then, why didn't TSCC catch this error, as you did TMSH? Why didn't they come to the defense of their data submission, and the quality of the survey, by pointing out that the error was on the part of the reporter?

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Posted by: Tall Man, Short Hair ( )
Date: May 03, 2012 02:12AM

An excellent question, and one that I forwarded to Peggy Fletcher Stack a the SLTrib a short while ago. The church should have been the first to shout out that the numbers reported were wrong. I have a feeling that part 2 of this story is beginning to unfold.

I hope that tomorrow there will be calls placed to the church press office asking, "Why did this correction originate from members of the community instead from you?"

The church pleads that it cannot get accurate press coverage, but sits silently when inaccurate reporting aids their cause.

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Posted by: thingsithink ( )
Date: May 03, 2012 02:32AM

Maybe tscc started lying once pressed because in the end the numbers are lies.

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Posted by: Tall Man, Short Hair ( )
Date: May 03, 2012 02:45AM

I found more data errors on the ARDA site, and located the problem. I believe I laid blame on Mr. Briggs incorrectly. There is a portion of the ARDA website that displays the numbers he quoted.

This page lists year 2000 membership at 4,224,026:
http://www.thearda.com/rcms2010/rcms2010.asp?U=99&T=US&S=Name&Y=2000

This page lists year 2000 membership at 5,208,827:
http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/D_1117.asp

The second number is what the church has published (or close to it). The first number appears to be the membership number from 1990. ARDA reported 20 years of Mormon Church growth as occurring within a 10 year period yielding about 45% growth. This is a gross exaggeration due to erroneous data.

Whoever assembled the data displayed on the first link caused the mistake to propagate.

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Posted by: thingsithink ( )
Date: May 03, 2012 03:06AM

So then isn't 20% growth also an overstatement since tscc says they previously understated the numbers?

If 2000 numbers were "understated" by tscc, but 2010 are actual, growth is under 20% but we don't know how much since we don't know how much 2000 were understated.

Isn't it also more likely 2010 were overstated rather than 2000 understated - tscc perhaps started counting more persons as members last ten years to keep up appearances? Something weird is up since tscc tried to explain away the mistake. Perhaps.

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Posted by: hello ( )
Date: May 03, 2012 03:52AM

Well, yes, Trotter explained that for 2010, they added in all the members who are "lost", or can't be found, and therefore are not directly assigned to any church unit for attendance purposes. Again, they don't give this figure, or how many members this represents.

But he is saying that if they had done this in 2000, the number would have been higher than the number they published and shared. So he says...

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