Mormonism is not primarily a religion at all, turns out…
My latest post, detailing why Mormonism is not (primarily) a religion, is up at Wheat & Tares. This post is the culmination of several posts I have read recently, including Peggy Fletcher Stack’s accounting of the over 900,000 “missing” Mormons in Brazil, “Internet Browser’s” proclamation that as long as he is included on the LDS church membership rolls, he ought to be able to use the label “Mormon” regardless of what he believes or practices, and Tim’s post critiquing Dan Wotherspoon’s use of Fowler’s Stages of Faith.
The basic idea is this: when we try to police who is authentically Mormon or who is following actual Mormon teachings, we quickly run into problems determining what counts as Mormon and what doesn’t. Is it true that a living prophet automatically trumps a dead one? Or in some way, can we reach back to ideas of old, either to support the church or to discount it? Must Mormonism be lived in compliance with authority figures, or can there be a Mormonism that is more expansive?
The whole discussion is a bit academic, because the church itself doesn’t even record Mormons based on what they believe, or what they do. If you have been baptized, and you have not resigned or been excommunicated, you are a Mormon as far as the church is concerned.
This leads to an interesting conclusion — most Mormons don’t engage religiously with the church at all. People who attend church at all are a vocal minority!