How are Mormon Beliefs Established?

Related Posts: Mormons and Caffeinated Soft drinks; The Word of Wisdom; Why I blog; Creation ex nihilo; Faith, Certainty, and Doubt; The First Vision; Are Mormons Brainwashed?

Summary: In my previous post (Are Mormons Brainwashed?) I pointed out that Mormonism is not driven by systematic theology. I use the term in a very narrow sense. I take it to mean a precisely defined, unified system usually involving philosophical methods and authoritative sources like scripture. Consequently, if one element is changed, or expressed differently, then the other elements must be altered to maintain consistency. The theologian’s job is to iron out the inconsistencies that arise.

This level of precision is behind most religious schisms. At some point someone interpreted the bible differently and concluded the existing tradition was flawed. To a Mormon many of the differences seem trivial, but to those involved, the very truth, and ultimately salvation, is at stake. So they form a new church claiming it is more correct.

Mormonism did not come about through doctrinal schism. Our tradition goes back to the First Vision (The First Vision); our doctrines are based on revelations given to the prophets. And we accept this. There are no professional theologians in the Mormon tradition who work out inconsistencies, define terms, and make the belief system uniform. The famous book by Bruce R. McConkie is title Mormon Doctrine, not Mormon Theology. Continue reading

Are Mormons Brainwashed?

Related Posts: Why I blog; Creation ex nihilo; How are Mormon Beliefs Established?; Faith, Certainty, and Doubt

Are Mormons free to believe what they want? Are we taught to lay aside common sense? Are Mormons brainwashed?

This is a sticky subject. It’s a truism that each of us is a captive of our culture in which we grew up, whether US, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, German, Egyptian, etc. And we must be careful when saying other people are brainwashed. Maybe it’s the brainwashed people that accuse others of being brainwashed? Am I brainwashed? Are you? Continue reading

Is LDS (Mormon) Church Growth Decelerating?

Related Posts: Growth of the Church (2007)

Summary: Is the growth of the church decelerating? I would have to say no. First, the acceleration the church experienced from 1950 to 1990 was small. Only 6,290 persons per year^2. So a change is not too surprising. From 1991 to 2013 there appears to be a very small deceleration, but this can be said with only 63% confidence. In other words, there is a 37% chance the apparent deceleration is not real. Otherwise, the growth rate is constant.

If we look at convert baptisms the number in 2013 is about 8,500 higher than in 1992. And for the last eight years has been fairly constant at about 275,000 per year. Non-convert baptisms is holding steady at 46,000 persons per year.

Baptisms per missionary have decreased due to a fairly constant conversion rate combined with a dramatic increase in missionary force. Continue reading

Mormon Temple Worship

Related Posts: Why Covenants?; The Fall of Man: The Doctrine; The Fall of Man: Defense of the Doctrine; The Mormon Concept of Heaven(s); Mormon Temple Garments.


Firstly, there is a difference between a temple and a regular meeting house. In a meeting house we meet weekly for worship and to take the sacrament. Temples are set aside for special ordinances that are not open for public viewing.

Mormons do not generally discuss temple worship among non-Mormons. Even among ourselves, there are aspects of temple worship we do not discuss outside the temple. At most they are referred to indirectly. Continue reading


This was a tough post to write. Not only because it is such a sensitive subject, but also because it is so personal to me. The reasons are complex and I won’t go into much detail, but by doing this I know I am exposing myself to a level of scrutiny I’m not entirely comfortable with. And I am fully aware that people who know me and read this post will see me differently–something I don’t particularly like. But I feel that this post will give my readers some insight into what severe depression is like. Especially for people who have never suffered from it.

I was in graduate school when I finally got treatment for my condition. By that time it had gotten so bad that I really had no choice. It was either get treatment or I would eventually kill myself. I ended up doing two semesters of one-on-one counseling and over the summer I did group therapy. I found the treatment to be helpful and worthwhile. It didn’t change my life in any dramatic way–at least not right away. But it was worthwhile and it helped me deal with some things that needed dealing with.

I remember one of the therapy group participants saying that no matter how bad things got he would never seriously consider killing himself. And I suppose that’s how it is for most people. It’s difficult to understand unless you’ve been there. And I suspect that for people who have not been there this could be a tough post to read. Continue reading

School Attendance in Utah

Related Posts: Utah’s Teachers and Students, 1870 to 1899; Education Funding in early Utah, 1870-1899; Polygamy versus Democracy

[After a long hiatus I’m back. I’ve just been busy with life: finished my dissertation, graduated, got a job, got married, bought a house. I’m planning on being more active in my blogging for the near future. I have lots of interesting ideas. Hope you like them.]


My interest in educational statistics originates from an article written by Stanley Kurtz published in the Weekly Standard titled “Polygamy Versus Democracy: you can’t have both” (June 2006). In it he draws parallels between the United States Government’s struggle to stamp out Mormon polygamy and the current war on terror. “In effect, the fight against polygamy was a slow, frustrating, expensive, ultimately successful campaign to democratize Utah. (The parallels to the war on terror are eerie)” (parenthesis original). Writing further that “the Mormons renounced polygamy and set themselves on the path to democracy.” He also asserted that “Religious leaders schooled their families privately, while most of the territory’s children remained illiterate.” (See Polygamy versus Democracy for data on why his assertions are totally false.) There was also an article written by Damon Linker in The New Republic, “The Big Test” (Jan 15, 2007) where Linker asserted that Mormonism is politically perilous. (My response is here.)

Anyway, my motivation stems from those articles.

So what does school attendance in Utah look like? Overall, very normal.

Continue reading