Leaders within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are speaking more openly about Mormonism’s controversial history and teachings.
Even as Mitt Romney’s presidential bid drew the national spotlight to Mormonism in 2012, leaders of the nearly 180-year-old religion expressed concern about its future.
“We’ve never had a period of — I’ll call it apostasy — like we’re having now,” Marlin Jensen, an official Mormon historian, told a group of Mormon students in Logan, Utah, according to a Reuters report. In response to one student’s question, Jensen admitted that Mormons are leaving the faith “in droves.”
Although the LDS church counts nearly 15 million members worldwide, estimates of the religion’s overseas retention rate are as low as 25 percent. Only half of the Mormons in the United States are active members, according to Reuters, and some sociologists report only 5 million active members worldwide. Additionally, young Mormons, especially, have begun to question the faith of their fathers.
“The problem for Mormonism is with the use of the Internet and with the persistence of many, many groups that have been very straightforward in promoting what Mormonism really stands for,” said R. Philip Roberts, director for international theological education with Global Ministries Foundation in Tennessee who also teaches adjunctively at Truett-McConnell College in Georgia. “They’re losing the battle.”
LDS leaders have for decades held a posture of silence and secrecy concerning questionable aspects of Mormonism’s history, theology and practices, said Roberts, former director of the North American Mission Board’s interfaith witness department and former president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Mormonism has everything to hide because they pretend to be a Christian organization,” Roberts said, noting that Mormons often use Christian terms while infusing them with unbiblical meanings.
But now, forced to address criticism widely available on the Internet, LDS leaders have begun — and only begun –to open up about controversial aspects of their faith. In recent articles posted on the LDS website (www.lds.org), leaders have admitted to Mormonism’s historically positive stance toward polygamy and the historical inaccuracy of some of its own scriptures.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press