The Big Lie by Richard Packham

A recent newspaper article in the Sacramento [California] Bee reporting on the groundbreaking for the new Mormon temple there mentioned that the church is "among the fastest-growing religions" in America. Another recent article in the Wall Street Journal about the open house at the new temple in Manhattan also referred to the growth of the church in similar terms.

It seems to be a pattern.

I did an internet search for the term "fastest growing church" with "mormon" and got 837 hits, roughly half of them from pro-Mormon sites (the other half seemed to be trying to disprove the Mormon claim). But a search for "fastest growing church" produced almost twice as many hits. Does this mean that people can talk about the "fastest growing church" and NOT mention the Mormons?

Where do journalists get the idea that the Mormon church is "among the fastest-growing religions" in America? From the church, of course. A visit to the official website of the church at, and a click on "For the media", followed by a search for the phrase "fastest growing" will produce the numerous press releases from the church itself where this claim is made. Unfortunately, journalists apparently assume that the church is telling the truth.

What are the facts?

According to figures published by the U.S. Census Bureau reporting the number of Americans who identify themselves as adherents to the various religions in 2001, and comparing those figures with data from 1990, the Mormon church in America had a growth of 12% during that period. That rate was the same rate as the growth of the Presbyterians (who do not have a full-time missionary force proselytizing in the U.S.). The Roman Catholic church increased at almost the same rate, at 11%, also without a massive American missionary effort.

But the Mormon growth rate pales into insignificance compared to the increase during that period of some other religions: Church of Christ 48%, Assembly of God 68%, Eastern Orthodox 28%, Mennonite 47%,
Unitarian-Universalist 25%, Scientology 22%.

The real "fastest growing religions" in America? Not the Mormons! How about the Disciples of Christ at 242%, Quakers 223%, Bahai 200%? Even the category "no religion" beats out the Mormons, increasing by 109%. The truly fastest growing religion in America? The Wiccans, at 1575%!

But the church obviously follows the advice of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister: If you tell a big enough lie and tell it often enough, soon it will be accepted as the truth.

One of the important goals of the Exmormon Foundation is to counter such Mormon myths. Unfortunately, the Mormon church has the funds to pay an outside public relations firm. The Foundation must rely entirely on membership dues and donations. We may be the David against the Goliath, but we have to fight the Big Lie.