The Secular Transition: Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists.

The Secular Transition: Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists.

by Ron Lawson, Ph.D.  |  10 January 2019  |

I am happy to report that we have just uploaded the first of a new series of my papers to my website. Unlike the most recent series, which featured my earliest papers about Adventism written in 1983-1984, this is the first of a very recent series that compares, in different ways, three religious groups that were born in the USA in the nineteenth century: Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), Adventists (Seventh-day Adventists), and Witnesses (Jehovah’s Witnesses). This paper was called “The Secular Transition: Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists.” It was written by Ryan T Cragun and Ronald Lawson, and was published in Sociology of Religion in 2010. Here is its abstract:

A question that continues to draw research in the sociology of religion is what factors spur the growth of religious groups. Following on from previous studies, this article examines three well-known Protestant/Other religions that share many characteristics (supply-side factors): Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists. Data on the memberships of these three religions was gathered from 1960 through 2006 for almost every country around the world where they have a presence. Growth rates for those countries were analyzed while controlling for country-level characteristics (demand-side factors). The results of this analysis indicate that both supply- and demand-side factors are important in determining growth. The strongest predictors of growth are: organizational momentum in a country, the level of economic development, and several country-level characteristics.


Ronald Lawson is a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist, and a sociologist studying urban conflicts and sectarian religions. He is retired from Queens College, CUNY, and now lives and works in Asheville, NC.

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