At the blog Text Messages, an interview with Julia Duin, who is the religion editor at the Washington Times and author of the book Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What To Do About It. Here are a couple of highlights from the interview.
First, here’s what is happening out there.
The Episcopalians are losing 1,000 people a week. The Southern Baptists, believe it or not, are also showing drops in baptisms and membership. Were it not for Hispanics, which are by now one-third of US Catholicism, the Catholic Church would be in enormous trouble as the numbers of confirmations, marriages in the church, confessions, etc., have dropped horribly. The Mormons and the Assemblies of God show up atop most surveys as groups that are growing.
The author notes that singles and women don’t get proper attention in most churches.
Women are slotted into childcare jobs and maybe ushers or the choir — or the worship team, as it’s called today. But women like me, who are seminary-educated, are given no place to teach. The offer is never extended. Ditto for other women who are lawyers, accountants, etc., who know things that could be of some benefit to the body of Christ. These women are underused at best. Or they are told they can only minister to other women.
How does this (and other items mentioned in the interview) relate to what’s going on in the LDS Church? There are three options here. One is that the LDS Church is still growing because it isn’t making these mistakes. The second option is that the LDS Church is making the same mistakes identified in the interview but, for various reasons, is still growing. The third option is that the LDS Church is making the same mistakes identified in the interview and is losing members like many other denominations, but that the membership losses are not reflected in statistics released by the Church and discussed by the media.
Without spending a lot of time mulling over the issue, I think I lean toward the second choice: singles and women don’t always get the right kind of attention in the Church but, to the credit of both demographics, still seem relatively faithful.