Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mormonism 101 Infographic

"Mormonism 101" at the Mormon Newsroom site offers an interesting infographic about the Church. If one more factoid were to be added, what would you recommend?

By the way, if you have contact with Church website folks, let them know that the embed feature for this graphic at Mormonism 101 doesn't work. I think the URL for the image they give is wrong. The Church is still true, even if their HTML sometimes isn't.


Anonymous said...

I'd consider adding something about the value the Church puts on education. I recently read a book that made the point that the most devout religions are filled with the least educated people. It specifically listed "Mormons" as a religion filled with the uneducated.

Ben Arkell said...

I wish the sacramental worship percentage were true, but it's not. Every ward I've been in where I've been able, I've tried to make it 100%. Often we miss the mark.

How about "Prayers that contain vain repetitions - 98.7%". I think I might do a cynical version of my own. :)

Last Lemming said...

From Wikipedia:

"A factoid is a questionable or spurious (unverified, false, or fabricated) statement presented as a fact, but with no veracity. The word can also be used to describe a particularly insignificant or novel fact, in the absence of much relevant context."

Given either definition, why would you want to add more factoids to the infographic? How about something significant in a relevant context? (Or are "infographic" and "something significant in a relevant context" mutually exclusive?)

SilverRain said...

I really dislike these infographics. They're at best self-congratulatory, and at worst downright false. Even if every fact was flawless, it still packages the messy reality of faith into cute little empty boxes.

I find it all so distasteful.

Mike S said...

I don't like this. I think the concept is good, but when they list something like 77% of members attend church each week, it calls everything into question. The activity rate in most of the Church is in the 20-40% range, depending on which part of the world you are counting. A number like 77% seems absurd.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, SilverRain -- distasteful. There's something about the public relations mindset that doesn't mesh very well with religion. As a Jew, I'm glad we have no central authority to maintain a PR shop like mormonnewsroom.org.

The LDS Church seems to have a distastefully proprietary attitude about the word Mormon itself, which it insists the world should use only to refer to its own particular brand of Mormon religion. It's as if, say, Conservative Judaism were to try to trademark the word Jew and forbid its use to refer to Orthodox and Reform Judaism. It's hard for me to imagine any Jewish sect throwing its doctrinal brethren under the bus by insisting on something like this:

There is no such thing as an "Orthodox Jew" or "Reform Jew." "Jew" is a common name for a Conservative Jew. These other groups have nothing whatsoever to do with Conservative Judaism. When referring to members of these other groups, terms such as "Orthodox Jew" or "Reform Jew" are incorrect.

Yet this is exactly the kind of nomenclatural exclusivity the LDS Church insists upon for itself. Given the way Mormons object to the evangelical attempt to exclude them from the category of Christian, one would think the LDS Church would be less eager to exclude the FLDS from the category of Mormon.

-- Eveningsun

Anonymous said...

Jeff asks for adding a factoid, something fun, and yet some (the same people over and over) still have to be negative. Tiresome and old.

Jeff Lindsay said...

The Pew study said 77% attended church weekly - but didn't say which church. Sure, I guess that could work. Thanks, Catholic-Mormons and Baptist-Mormons for at least going somewhere to worship.

Actually, the Pew study (introduced here with the full PDF report here) only includes those who identify themselves as Mormon when asked about their religion. A big portion of those who don't try to come to church weekly aren't quick to share their Mormon identity, at least not in a survey. It also appears to have been a telephone interview, so this may have required people with landlines listed in the phone book for the survey. Plus that also requires that the people not only be reachable by phone, but also interested enough in sharing their religious views that they would suffer through a survey. With all that in mind, the 77% number might even be on the low side. But to be more clear, perhaps it should be reported this way:

"Weekly church attendance was reported by 77% of all those reachable by phone who were willing to identify themselves as Mormon to a stranger and were excited enough about their religion to endure a survey."

But that's too much fact and not enough factoid.

No, it's not perfect. Hey, it's just a light tool to raise a little interest or awareness. Sure, these things can be irritating if taken too seriously. That's why we need more fun factoids. Like, this, perhaps: "Average number of wives per man: still less than 1.0 since 1910. And it's still under 1 if you count those fundamentalists who really, really aren't Mormons."

SilverRain said...

Anonymous, I am quite supportive of the Church generally. But reducing religion to cute little factoids is distasteful and guaranteed to backfire.

Anonymous said...

EveningSun, it's your job (of self-professed duty) to express dissatisfaction with all things Mormon. Of course you'll find the Infographic distasteful.

Anonymous said...

Who's reducing religion to factoids? Sharing them, cutesy or not, highly accurate or not, is not reducing the complexities of faith. No more than having one person say "I'm so and so and I'm a more" is reducing the Mormon experience to a few sound bytes,

Anonymous said...

I question the veracity of whoever put together the 96% donate to religious causes factoid. It is even less believable than the 77% weekly attendance factoid.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous writes, EveningSun, it's your job (of self-professed duty) to express dissatisfaction with all things Mormon.

Not quite all things Mormon, just the dissatisfying things. But basically, yes, I'm definitely a critic of the LDS Church.

But so what? Does that mean I'm inevitably wrong? Does the Church teach that it can dismiss its critics merely because they're critics? You've characterized my comments as "negative," but you haven't addressed the question of whether my comments are justified.

Anonymous (perhaps some other Anonymous) also asks, Who's reducing religion to factoids?

The answer, of course, is that the infographic itself is reducing religion to factoids. The question is not whether such reduction is occurring; the question is whether that's a good thing for a church to be doing.

On one level, the question here is about the fit between form and content. You might remember the debates that took place back when the megachurches first started luring young people to services by featuring live rock bands playing Christian rock. That debate was over whether rock music was, by its very nature (being of the Devil, doncha know), an unfit form for conveying Christian content.

One could ask a similar question here: is the infographic, as a form, inappropriate for answering a question like "Who are the Mormons?"

It seems to me there's nothing wrong with raising a question like this, even if you don't trust the motives of the person who raises it.

-- Eveningsun

SilverRain said...

EveningSun, I never thought we'd agree on anything. ;)

The problem I see with the infographics is that they, at best, provide back-patting. They give us the "oh, look how great we are" buzz. This is obvious to those who don't like the Church, for whatever reason. Self-congratulation is an unfortunate quality in anyone, individual or institution.

I think the question to ask oneself is, what are these infographics trying to convey? What message are they trying to send. Because the "look at us and how great we are" thing is the only purpose I've imagined.

Anonymous said...

SilverRain, maybe I should be less skeptical of miracles. :)

To put your comment about "back-patting" another way: the infographic is about the greatness of the Church and its members rather than the greatness of Jesus. It's about an institution rather than the gospel.

I suspect that if someone were to try to reduce the gospel to an infographic, the result would look blasphemous and silly, which maybe gets back to your earlier comment about "packag[ing] the messy reality of faith into cute little empty boxes."

-- Eveningsun

Paul Senzee said...

Hi Jeff,

I'm not sure what to say about this, there are several misleading things here.

- 9/10 members pray/read scriptures and send their kids for religious education: I guarantee you 9/10 members of record, 12 million people don't do this, it's well known/accepted that only 25-33% are even active.

- 77% of members attend meetings at least weekly: You mention that it's 77% of self-reported members saying this, but the graphic doesn't, instead implying that this is a percentage of..

- 14.1 million members: these are members of record, this is *not* the same number used as the basis for the factoids above.

The 77% comment actually should be worrisome, because of what this says about how many members self identify as Mormon. If we assume 33% activity, 4.6m active Mormons, and expand that by 130% (100%/77%), we get *only* 6 million people who *self report* as Mormon. If people don't self-report as Mormon, they aren't Mormon.

Anonymous said...

Paul, the study was only done in the US, not world wide.

About 6.6 million members of record in the US. And about 50% activity rate in the US.

About 6.6 million members of record outside the US, and about 25% activity rate outside the US.

Taking the above into account, its still hard to deduce the percent of inactive members (or total members) who do or don't self-identify as Mormon, as the survey can't identify someone who is a member of record but does not self identify.

The wording of the question which generated the 77% figure, does not correspond to how we would normally define someone as active versus less/in-active.
Because one can attend less than weekly, and still be considered actie.

Paul Senzee said...

Anon, thanks for the response.

I found another link on the Pew Forum showing 2% of the US population self-reporting holding strong as Mormon, which should be about 6m self identifying in the US, about what the church reports for US members, which refutes what I said earlier about the 77% pointing to a large number of folks once affiliated with the Church who no longer report.

Now the reason I'd suspected this goes back to some of my observations as a missionary in Latin America, where things are different:

About 6.6 million members of record outside the US, and about 25% activity rate outside the US.

The activity rate outside the US may be considerably lower than 25%, at least in Latin America, where the majority of members outside of the US live.

I served in Mexico and found this link about Mexican membership from Cumorah.com. The Mexican census shows 315,000 self-reporting Mormons in Mexico, whereas the Church reports 1.2 million. That's 25% self-identifying, so a far smaller number are likely to be active. My own experience bears this out as well, having served in wards such as one with 30-60 people attending, but with 1000 people on the rolls.

Nate said...

..and it's all vanity.