LDS Church Growth, Member Activity, and Convert Retention: Review and Analysis

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Chapter: IV-11: Australia and New Zealand

Australia

Austrian census data are available from 1991, 1996, and 2001.[1] Of the 1991 Australian census, Marjorie Newton observed:

"While the official membership figure was 78,000 in 1991, the Australian census that year showed only 38,372 Latter-day Saints. A letter from the area presidency urging members to respond to the voluntary census question on religious affiliation was read in every ward sacrament meeting before the census, making it unlikely that many active Latter-day Saints would have refused to answer. When we consider that the census figure also includes those of the 4,000 RLDS members who responded,[2] the conclusion seems inescapable that well over half the nominal Mormons in Australia no longer regard themselves as Latter-day Saints."[3]
The 1996 Australian census[4] showed that 42,158 individuals identified themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, compared to 87,000 official members at year-end 1995. The LDS Church statistics show 102,773 Australian members at year-end 2001, while 48,775 individuals reported LDS affiliation in the 2001 Australian census (47 percent of official membership).

New Zealand

From 1991 to 2001, New Zealand LDS membership statistics demonstrated an 18.6 percent increase from 77,000 (year-end 1991) to 91,373 (year-end 2001). Over this same period, the number of individuals identifying themselves as Latter-day Saints or Mormons on the New Zealand census fell from 48,009 in 1991 to 41,166 in 1996 and 39,915 in 2001.[5] Almost all regions of the country showed this decline. Religious groups such as Pentecostals show census increases during this same period. As the 2001 survey allowed individuals to specify up to four religious affiliations and those reporting multiple affiliations were counted in each group, it is unlikely that any significant number of individuals identifying themselves as Latter-day Saints were not counted. The significant decline in the percentage of individuals on LDS membership rolls reporting religious affiliation with the LDS Church from 62 percent in 1991 to 43.7 percent in 2001 suggests that the Church accumulated many nominal members, but retained very few, and may even have experienced a net loss of previously active members to other faith communities.


FOOTNOTES
[1] Australian National Census, 1996 and 2001, www.crc.nsw.gov.au/statistics/Sect1/Table1p06Aust.pdf.
[2] The Australian Bureau of Statistics does not distinguish between the two churches.
[3] Newton, Marjorie, "Towards 2000: Mormonism in Australia," Dialogue, 29/1 (Spring 1996): 193-206.
[4] Which did distinguish between the LDS and RLDS churches.
[5] 1991, 1996, and 2001 New Zealand Census, Statistics New Zealand, www.stats.govt.nz.