The EFM Feature

From an article titled, “Evangelicals Against Mitt:”

Evangelicals may be surprised to learn that the growth of church membership in Massachusetts slowed substantially during Romney’s tenure as governor. In fact, one could make the absurdly simplistic argument that Romney was bad for Mormonism.
Consider: From 1997 to 2002, the six years prior to Romney’s governorship, LDS church membership in Massachusetts grew by a rate of nearly 40 percent. During the four years Romney was in office, membership growth slowed to a snail’s pace — a mere 1.7 percent, according to membership statistics kept by the church and published in the LDS Church Almanac . The national growth rate during that same period was about three times the Massachusetts number: 5.1 percent.
During the Romney years, the number of Mormon wards and branches, congregations that are created and dissolved based on geography and population, in the Bay State rose by one and fell by one, indicating that congregational growth was static. Nationwide, the number of congregations grew by 7.3 percent.

Interesting, no? I have heard Gov. Romney joke about this, but this is the first time I’ve seen any statistics. Of course, this was written in response to some ladies who wouldn’t vote for Gov. Romney because they fear his faith spreading.
I think David has a great note on this subject, worth repeating:

Do religions really stand or fall based on the attractiveness of their most famous adherents? Or does God perhaps have a say (I would say the decisive say) in the process? I presume that your correspondents would never stay in a Marriott hotel, fly Jetblue, or root for the 49ers when Steve Young was throwing touchdown passes to Jerry Rice. Because, after all, they don’t want to endorse anyone or anything that brings credibility to the LDS church. I suppose God stands helplessly by as religions compete for souls by offering up a series of accomplished, attractive politicians and celebrities. (“I see your Steve Young and raise you a Kurt Warner.”)
In fact, as we know from the Bible, God more often uses the “least of these.” The King of Kings came not as a prince but a carpenter and allowed himself to be executed between two petty criminals. His apostles did not run Roman provinces but were instead chased across an empire, met in caves, and were sometimes torn apart in arenas for public amusement. And yet Christianity has endured and flourished. Why? Because – perhaps, just perhaps – God is in control.
So when I see Christians say that the eternal souls of men are in danger because a Mormon of genuine integrity and real accomplishment is running for president, I wonder who (or what) they have faith in: the sovereignty of a loving God who holds the nations in his hands, or the persuasive power of a Mormon missionary who can add one more celebrity to the list of famous LDSers (“we’re right because Gladys Knight, Danny Ainge, Dale Murphy, Harry Reid, and – yes – Mitt Romney say so!”)

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