Geneticist Simon Southerton was serving as an Australian Mormon bishop when he discovered through DNA research that Native Americans were not descendants of Israelites (as the Book of Mormon teaches), but instead were descendants of Asians via the Bering Strait. This researched caused Simon to lose his faith in Mormonism. He is the author of a book on the subject called “Losing a Lost Tribe.”

Recently Simon has been studying the declining growth in the worldwide LDS or Mormon church. Simon will join us on Mormon Stories Podcast to discuss his research into Mormon church decline.

Please join us with you questions!

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14 Comments

  1. Cody August 20, 2021 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    One ward I served in as a missionary in Mexico had 1500 households on record, with about 3 people per household. Average attendance was less than 100 each week. So about 2% attendance overall.

  2. Milly August 20, 2021 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    I did the tedious tools count. Out of 177 adults in my ward only 52 list callings – including myself and my husband even though we have not been to church for about a year! Who knows what’s going on with their counts and callings. When we used to attend, sacrament was always 1/4 full with the same few families every week. Also of note, ours is a Spanish ward in an English speaking area. The Bishop was just replaced by a young, white man (and wife) I’ve never seen before. Either his family moved in during the year we’ve been gone or they’ve been called from another ward to serve. So strange when I can think of other active, faithful men in our ward that have been attending for years.

  3. faith August 21, 2021 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Please post name of websites mentioned in podcast. fullconsideration.com and what was the other about land holdings ?

  4. CCA August 21, 2021 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    One important correction to the summary above. The Book of Mormon does NOT teach that the Native Americans were descendants of the house of Israel. Joseph Smith said that, which is an entirely different matter. Joseph Smith was only given ONE GIFT and that was to translate the Book of Mormon. The following is from the 1833 Book of Commandments which was subsequently altered without authorization in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, Section 5.

    4:1 Behold, I say unto you, that my servant Martin has desired a witness from my hand, that my servant Joseph has got the things of which he has testified, and borne record that he has received of me.4:2 And now, behold this shall you say unto him:–I the Lord am God, and I have given these things unto my servant Joseph, and I have commanded him that he should stand as a witness of these things, nevertheless I have caused him that he should enter into a covenant with me, that he should not show them except I command him and he has no power over them except I grant it unto him; and he has a gift to translate the book, and I have commanded him that HE SHALL PRETEND TO NO OTHER GIFT, FOR I WILL GRANT HIM NO OTHER GIFT.

    • Robert M Hodge August 22, 2021 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      You seem to oblivious to the fact that Joseph Smith is a “witness to these things”. Why then that his comment (as you say) is not relevant to the notion that Amer Indians are descendents to the House of Israel. But even then the book makes it clear that Levi, Nephi and Laman were Israelites. In any case read the book of Mormon preface which says (unless they have change it in more recent editions) that the Lamanites are a “remnant of the house of Israel”. BOM 1989 Edition.

    • Lance Steele September 1, 2021 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      The book of Mormon specifically details that the plates of Laban contain a geneology of Lehi and his family back to Joseph. It is literally in the text in many places, that is just one place.

  5. Frank August 21, 2021 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    I was in Chile during the Holland consolidation. I had one ward on a rainy Sunday in July that had 17 people in attendance with over 700 on the rolls. Two of us were missionaries, we had an investigator attend and it was ward conference so there were a couple people from the stake. Maybe 10 to 12 ward members in attendance.

    We would get the member directory and every ward had dozens of young adults who were the only member of their family in the church. We’d play a little game of guess the baptism year, it was always 88 – 91. Most we could never find, the few we talked to had no interest in the church.

    My current ward in Utah county has about 450 on the rolls and a pre covid attendance around 220.

  6. Angie Coulter August 22, 2021 at 1:44 am - Reply

    Can you provide those graphs? Thank you.

  7. DB August 22, 2021 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Incredible Interview!

    One of the best!

    Thanks for doing this.

  8. Marlbey August 23, 2021 at 8:29 am - Reply

    I wish you had treated that Mormon troll’s comment seriously about the overall decline in church membership across many Christian denominations instead of reacting defensively / dismissively. I think it’s a legitimate point and an interesting topic of conversation. A few topics to explore:
    1. How has the missionary effort been impacted by secularization of 1st and 2nd world countries? How much of past success with missionary work is more a reflection of disaffection with other religions (ie, Catholicism) than a testament to the Mormon message?
    2. How much has the massive investment in missionary work helped the Mormon church postpone the same membership loss that other Christian denominations have experienced since the 1970s in the US and Europe? Why has missionary work become so much less effective in the last decade in delaying that trend?
    3. Many established Christian denominations (ie, Catholics and mainline protestants such as Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc.) are bleeding members, shuttering their buildings, experiencing schisms, while non-denominational Christian churches, and less top-down religions (most notably, evangelical Christians and Muslim) seem less vulnerable to secularism. Why is this? What can Mormon leaders learn from observing membership trends in other faiths?

  9. Michael Grover August 23, 2021 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Holy crap! How does the Church get away with this? I googled the Tonga statistics in seconds:

    Church Claims 64% of Tongan Population is LDS
    https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/facts-and-statistics/country/tonga

    Actual Census Records for Tongan Religious Demographics (3rd paragraph)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Tonga

  10. Alan August 28, 2021 at 12:42 am - Reply

    I was a stake clerk in the Midwest for 13 years. The stake was geographically large and took in parts of two states. We would regularly get packets of membership records showing “lost” members who had moved into the area and addressed to [city First Ward, city Stake], where city was the largest city in the area and headquarters for the stake. It turned out that the records of people who purportedly had moved into the state anywhere were sent to that ward and stake. So every once in a while, we’d just package them up and send them to the Salt Lake First Ward, Salt Lake Stake and let whomever got them worry about it. We had more than enough to do.

  11. Devin Brady August 30, 2021 at 11:06 am - Reply

    I did a quick count in LDS tools of those with callings vs none in my St George ward per John’s invitation. 88 of 204 or 43% of adults have no callings. Was a bit disappointed how active my ward is 😂. But St George is quite faithful comparatively and a gathering place for many active members moving from other areas.
    Notably still building packed chapels in my area due to move ins, but that means other chapels (even in downtown St George where my folks live in older wards) are increasingly empty. We are a microcosm that maybe represents faithful members clustering and avoiding much of what is common around the rest of the world. I might be tempted to say it’s still 1999 in Little Valley, Saint George, but this analysis only looks at adults. A member of our stake presidency who is also the seminary principal told me that enrollment in seminary is decreasing by about 3% per year as a % of those eligible to enroll for the last several years. He and his fellows are very concerned about youth opting out of seminary. Would be interesting to look into that a bit further.

  12. Lee Tuitamo October 26, 2021 at 9:37 am - Reply

    New Temple announcements don’t always mean they get built. So, after a while we will see if the announcement really WAS a veil. And how can they keep building temples when membership is in decline? Surely tithing is in decline with all the inactives and non tithe payers. The Church foresaw this a long time ago. That’s why it’s actually making money with many businesses. It’s such a big sham. But it has to continue to pretend to be a religion for the tax exempt status that it so highly protects. The “Prophet” was so bold to urge members to get vaxxed and assured them that they deliver only pure truth and so you should trust them when they command you to get the jab. So, it’s like the Lord told all the members “Screw your freedom”. Maybe the decline is the result of people realizing it’s a big sham. I mention this because whatever position the government takes, the Mormon church will comply in order to maintain it’s tax exemption. This is proof it is not run by the Lord.

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