by Ronald Lawson, Ph.D. | xx January 2019 |
Many of you have reported finding the last two papers, which compared the growth and spread of these groups throughout parts of the world, and where their memberships are concentrated, very interesting. That pleased me, for I agree with that assessment. Now we come to a case study that focuses on a single country, which is very enlightening in different ways. Here is the abstract to the paper, which is titled “Comparing Mormons, Adventists, and Witnesses in Mexico, 2000-2010: Contrasting Their Growth, Who They Baptized and Retained, and the Reliability of Their Data.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses all originated in the USA within a fifty-year period during the nineteenth century, and each, believing that it was charged with taking God’s final message to the world, set out to evangelize globally. All today have a significant presence in Mexico. By choosing to focus there in 2000 and 2010, I was able to compare the official statistics of each religious group with the number of Mexicans identifying with them in the censuses taken in both years. These two groups of statistics differed considerably from one another, suggesting weaknesses in the official membership totals. The Mexican census is the most detailed one that I am aware of, allowing a great deal of cross-tabulation. The analysis produced several unexpected results. For example, although Adventists, unlike the other two groups, operate a large educational system in Mexico, including three universities, one of which has a medical and dental school, once again the average educational level reached by Adventists and their average income is much lower than for both Mormons and Witnesses. The details provided by the census help to explain why this is so. The cross-tabulations offered in these censuses also test the reliability of each group’s official data, their growth during the decade, what kinds of people they baptized, and who of these they retained.
You can read more about the growth of these churches in Mexico here.
Ronald Lawson is a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist, and a sociologist studying urban conflicts and sectarian religions. He is retired from Queens College, CUNY.