Sunday, May 9, 2010

Religion Interest on the Internet today

The internet is a major form of communication for religions in America. Every denomination has some sort of presence on the internet. Whether the discussions explain beliefs, inform people about events or if people simply have questions about the religion, this research discusses current trends on the internet for several branches of Christianity including the LDS church. The four largest search engines in the world are Google, Yahoo, MSN and respectively. These make up 80 percent of all traffic on the internet today. Below is a graph that explains how many times the following words have been entered into all four search engines. So anyone who has an internet connection in the world and types in a specific word is recorded and collected by Google, Yahoo, MSN and People who inquire on search engines have any number of reasons when they do their searching. They may be members of the denomination or completely hate the subject they are looking up. But the level of interest is the same; they all are purposefully searching something about the denomination and are trying to learn something.

The word “Catholic” had the most searches on the internet with the word LDS in second place. All other denominations had significantly lower inquires for the month of February. For example, the word “Baptist” was typed in a search bar only 64,438 times in February. It’s important to know these inquiries are only for these exact phrases or words. So the key word “Lutheran” is only one of thousands of keywords people type in when searching about Lutherans. Many people type in different keywords like “Martin Luther” or the “ELCA church” when searching about religion. However, I chose what I thought were the most popular and direct keywords for a religion to show these trends clearly.

The main point to make in this research is to put these numbers in perspective for the size and commonality of these denominations. For example, the Catholic church has over 1 billion people in the world as members but only 488 thousand inquires have been made in Feb. Compared to the 13 million members of the LDS church in the world, 400 thousand inquires were made about LDS. Do Catholics simply have less access to internet than LDS members or is there just more interest in the LDS religion? The same comparison is made to Lutherans. Lutherans boast over 100 million members worldwide but has some of the lowest interest in the religion on internet search engines.

Another way to learn about interest in religions is to look at the popularity of denominations’ websites. The graph below shows the amount of traffic websites receive compared to each other in the United States. The most popular website on the internet is It is ranked number one because it is the most visited website on the internet. monitors the popularity of the largest 100,000 websites on the internet by measuring the amount of visitors they receive. For example, is more popular than because its rank is lower. It receives slightly more visitors to the website than According to some of the largest denominations in the United States, is the most popular and ranks the 548 most visited website on the internet. It is even more popular than the website. What does this say about the content on the websites themselves? Is there greater demand for the information than other church websites? For example, the LDS family search genealogy website is amost twice as popular as the Vatican website. Does this mean that genealogy is more popular than what the pope and Vatican says? Not necessarily, but these comparisons can be made according to the data provided by For example, the second largest denomination in America – the Southern Baptist Church, with 16 million members, has the least trafficked website or has the least monthly visitors compared to the 10 largest churches in America. Do Baptists simply not visit their church website as often as Mormons visit theirs?

The same comparisons are made worldwide with the graph below. being one of the most popular and visited religious websites in the world.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Apostles income policies and ex mormon claims

I found an exmormon article about the homes of the apostles and leaders of the church. The article was claiming that church leaders become rich off the tithing of the church. I found it hilarious because they published the home of each apostle but failed to mention policies of the church or apostles employment throughout life. The article did more to preserve the principles of the church than find fault in it. Take for example the house and life of President Monson. He received a degree in business management and an MBA from BYU. Served in the Navy and became general manager of Deseret Newspaper. A board member of directors of Printing Industry of America and several other boards all before he became an Apostle.

Church policies allow apostles to receive living allowances when they cannot meet all of their own personal expenses while serving. Although many Seventy are able to accomplish this because callings are around 5 years of service, apostles and the first presidency have a harder time remaining self sufficient. Mainly due to the fact they serve for life. Living allowances are subsidised by the church and these funds come from for profit businesses the church owns; not from tithing money. Even if all 15 Apostles recieve an massive annual living allowance of $100,000 a year this is only .000001 percent of the annual income of the church. in comparison the Community of Christ (RLDS) church gives their leaders over 90% of the entire church budget just on administration costs, including to the president of the church.

In conclusion, i own a bigger house than President Monson and i'm only 26 years old. Yet, he operates the richest religious entity in America.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Clergy Salary Principles in America

Modern religions in America rely heavily on the concept of a paid salary to perform the work of their religion and their services. The financial annual cost easily reaches into the billions of dollars.

This discussion introduces policies modern religions created about clergy receiving salaries verses clergy who don't receive compensation. The first principle (followed only by the LDS faith and a few other religions) is that receiving a salary or compensation:

  1. Can lead to the spiritual and temporal corruption of the church and the clergy in addition to limiting the wisdom of the clergy themselves.

  2. It also limits the ability of the church itself to function temporally and limits the churches own opportunities.

The second principle (followed by every other religion to one degree or another) is that receiving a salary is necessary for the clergy in order to survive in this world and also to be able to support their families. In addition, they deserve a salary based on their services they provide in their work.

Doctrinally, both arguments are supported by scripture. Paul was a tent maker while serving his missionary work and apostolic calling. He publically criticized others who earned a living from their preaching and boasted when saying he supported himself. Jesus, along with other prophets are largely beleived to have never received a dime. (1 corinthians 9: 4-18)

The 2nd argument is found in 1 Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward and Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Although this is not speaking about clergy receiving money, it is often interpreted that way by many pastors.

Since both arguments are important to the lives of churches, clergy and dependants of clergy I will only define the arguments of both sides and discuss the consequences of following each principle. I will leave it up to the reader to decide which principles are more effective or inspiring to follow and which conflicting principle has more benefits.

First, The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS church) is the only large church that has a lay ministry. No bishops or leaders receive any compensation for the time and effort they put into their calling. Below is a graph of the average salaries clergy receive in each denomination. Catholics are the only ones with similar beliefs as the LDS church with regards to clergy receiving no compensation. Religious priests take a vow of poverty, only receiving a small allowance to sustain life. Other Catholic priests receive a small salary along with retirement benefits and health benefits necessary to sustain the life of the priest. Never the less, this has still proven to be a major liability to the Catholic Church due to high medical costs associated with sustaining the livlihood of priests. In some dioceses, priest liabilities have cause the bankruptcy of numerous dioceses throughout the country with pension, medical and other salaries reaching as high as 65% of all liabilities in the diocese. All other major denominations compensate pastors to a high extent. Salaries can very widely, from low 23k a year to as high as 72k a year. Below is a chart showing the annual wage clergy receive per religion. This discussion includes the research of six of the largest religions in America. In addition, clergy salaries should also reflect the impact on the congregation itself. For example, it is common for a single congregation to use over 70% of all annual donations to the church just to compensate the salary of the pastor.

For example, an ELCA congregation in Washington State publishes their finances in a monthly newsletter. Their monthly expenses can be found in the graph below.

The monthly budget barely allows enough income to survive throughout the month. When using the donations of members on salaries, it leaves very little other opportunities for the congregation. In addition, why is the position of a priest so vital to the congregation as to use 70% of the finances to support it? Can resources be used more effectively to bring people to Christ?

In contrast to the financial principles of an LDS congregation in Canada, no money is used for the salaries of clergy. This allows vital donations to go toward charity work and monthly bills to operate the facility like electricity. In the operating bills, much of it is used directly towards the congregation, like library material, functions like dances and dinners and also office supplies.

In this case, 88% of the sacrifices of members is saved for when revenue is lower than expenses. This allows the church to be self sufficient in tough times and also allows flexibility when deciding how to minister to people. Sometimes the savings is used to build additional buildings or to support missionaries who cannot afford to pay for their own mission.

The first consequence of having a lay ministry is the consequence of lay ministers dedicating a great amount of time away from their calling and using it on their profession. Although LDS Bishops spend an average of 10 to 20 hours a week in their calling, it is short of the 40 hours a week full time pastors spend on their ministry. The LDS congregation makes up the difference by calling 2 other counselors to assist the LDS bishop and inviting the congregation to participate in the affairs of the church. Any typical LDS congregation provides dozens of Sunday school lessons a week, visits to all members monthly, 3 to 4 sermons a week, dozens of families assisted temporarily, countless weekly activities, service projects, hundreds of hours of missionary work and other similar projects completed weekly. A good consequence of having clergy away from their calling and into their own profession is the concept that the bishops themselves become great contributors to society through their own profession. By becoming dentists, accountants, pilots and so forth, bishops provide many professional services and are also able to support their families temporally. In conclusion, the spiritual welfare of the congregation is provided through bishop interviews and personal discussions with the bishop.

The first consequence of having a paid ministry is the consequence of congregations surviving without any minister or priest in their own congregation. Many denominations today suffer with a lack of priests and pastors to fill their congregations. Since the purposes of pastors are essential to the spiritual lives of the congregation in many denominations, this can cause congregations to miss important spiritual events in the congregation. An example is the need for sacraments, marriages, baptisms, sermons, confessions, traditions, and other spiritual ordinances often performed by priests. They are left largely without these events because no one among them took the necessary steps of going through 6 years of theology school and being hired for the position. Or simply, the congregation can’t afford to pay a clergy in that position. Clergy are likely to be hired in larger congregations which offer higher compensation for themselves and their family.

Another consequence is how receiving compensation can lead to corruption. Obviously taught by scripture, living extreme lifestyles from ministries is morally wrong and very sinful. Private jets, multi-million dollar homes, extravagate vacations all paid from the tithes and sacrifices of followers is nothing short of evil. A classic example is Benny Hinn, a TV evangelist. To simply put it, anyone who enjoys following these nut cases is not very smart….. in any way, shape or form. (Scripture?)

Less extreme examples, all though notable are pastors who receive $200,000 plus a year for basic services, or like mentioned earlier, who use 70% of all the congregations donations just on their own salaries. Common sense dictates this greatly hinders the stability of the congregation.
Another consequence of having a paid ministry is a concept of forgetting a major purpose of religion itself, charity. Charity is the idea of being in the service of one another and lifting one another’s spirits by dedicating your own time, talents and money. The idea that through your actions you expect no reward or compensation other than knowing you’ve helped someone in need. That charitable experience is taken from you the moment you open your hand for a pay check or some sort of compensation for the work you did. Others who argue that the clergy who perform those services are still being charitable regardless of their salary are completely missing this point and have forgotten so many of life’s precious moments.

The chart below conveys the number of clergy who exist in America today. Some organizations are larger than others and this is only a handful of the thousands of churches that operate in America.

Below is a chart showing the estimated yearly costs each organization spends on their clergy. This rough estimate was created simply by multiplying the number of clergy with their average annual salary.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Religious Humanitarian Charities Research

Each religious charity claims to provide aid in Christ’s name. In other words, they claim to use gospel principles designed to provide help to those in need. Each claiming the same way Christ would give aid if he was here right now. There are vast differences in the principles each charity currently uses when giving aid and helping the needy. Although helping people in need is a great cause regardless of what service you provide, some methods and principles are much more effective and inspiring than others. This report attempts to explain a few of those differences using five of the largest religious charities in America for 2008.

Note, this is written by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is biased toward that church.

This graph below shows the actual size of each charity in income for 2008. This includes the donations from members of the church or charity. Other income in the form of fundraisers and so forth is not included in this graph.

The first principle is Administration Costs
Every non profit organization or charity has administration costs associated with their work. Employees work for the organization when providing charity to others. However, most charities view administration costs as fair and feel justified by using the actual charitable donations from people for their own salaries. This adds up to hundreds of million of dollars each year spent solely on administration costs rather then actually helping the poor. The greatest argument I’ve seen is when I present a way for these organizations to be able to operate just as well by having 0% administration costs but they brush it of as impossible or it’s not important.

The LDS Humanitarian program is the only charity I have ever found with essentially 0% administration costs. They rely heavily on volunteers to perform their work, including over 4,000 humanitarian missionaries who use their own resources and money to support themselves while providing aid for others. They operate several key services including bishop storehouses which provide direct food to the needy. One key principle they include here is self reliance. So all food given to the needy is grown, packaged and given solely by the LDS humanitarian program. This involves farms and volunteers to tend the farms, volunteers to package the food products and resources to ship the products to the needy. A few paid employees manage the farms or ship the products to the storehouses add to a total of 2.2% administration costs. However, using the principle of all donations go directly to the needy, the charity uses the profits from several key businesses to pay for all administration costs. Administration costs include salaries, shipping expenses and even the costs associated with store rentals and capital investments.

Below is a graph demonstrating the amount of donated income goes toward their own salaries. This has improved greatly from 2007 when LWR (Lutheran World Relief) and ADRA (Adventist Relief Agency) had administration costs over 15% each. CRS (Catholic Relief Services) has been steadily at the lowest from 6.8% in 2007.

Not shown here but one more principle is the amount administrators earn while working for their charities. Several managers of charities often earn $150,000 plus a year. This might be discussed in greater detail after more research.

The second principle is government grants
Another common choice made by religious charities is the concept of receiving free money in form of government grants. However, no money from the government is ever free. It is money earned by individuals and taken in the form of taxes without their choice. So in logical essence, individuals who might not have any desire to donate money to these specific charities are forced to simply because the charity requested it by filling out the proper forms.

Below is the dollar amount given to each charity in 2008 from the Federal Government. This adds up to billions of dollars a year.

In addition, some charities now rely heavily on these charities just to stay in the black and continue to operate and pay their employees. Below is a chart of how much of their donations come from government grants as a percentage of the total income. CRS is the largest at 42% of their income comes from the government.

The LDS Humanitarian Program follows the principle of self reliance again and the principle of separation of church and state. No one should be forced to pay for their charitable work and the charity does not want any influences from the government or any other entity over them. This has proven to be a very good principle to follow.

The LDS Humanitarian Fund is the only charity to use these two principles when giving aid to the needy. Several other key principles are not discussed in this report. Such as, how effective is the aid given to the needy. And does the aid given to the needy create self reliance or only dependence? Which charity is more effective and successful when comparing the principles they follow?

References Seventh Day Adventist 2008 Annual Report Lutheran World Relief 2008 Annual Report Catholic Relief Services 2008 Annual Report Salvation Army 2008 Annual Report LDS World Service Fact Sheet 2008 for LDS Humanitarian Program

Last updated: December 30, 2009

Monday, May 19, 2008

United States Church Membership

This graph represents 9 of the 25 largest churches in the United States starting from 1990 to 2006. This includes the total membership of each church within the United States and their membership growth or decline. The LDS church indicates steady church growth, regardless of activity levels, within the United States while all other churches have shown steady decline or slight growth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is now the 4th largest church in the United States.

References: This data was mostly collected from ARDA and National Councel of Churches ( The most recent figures for 2005 and 2006 were collected directly from each churches' statistical webpages.

Last updated: April 14, 2008 Note:

This information is created from a member of the Mormon faith and is biased towards the mormon church.

Personal interpretation of the graph
Only two churches (Seventh Day Adventists & Jehovah Witnesses) report their membership as members who are active and attending their meetings in the organization. Inactive or non practicing members of these organizations are not counted in the total membership. These two churches are also the only organizations that show a slight growth in the United States. Their membership is around 1 million and barely reach the top 25 churches.

The remaining seven organizations report accurate membership numbers within the organization and include total membership regardless of activity rates. Not all churches are included in this graph but will be added as time permits and when churches update their statistical data. This allows an accurate comparison of the health and direction of each church.

The Community of Christ is the RLDS church that claims no ties to the LDS church. Membership recently fell to 200,000 worldwide. They have an operating budget of $27 million. Agreeingly, the Community of Christ considers itself a seperate church and not a breakaway from the Mormon Church.

The only church experiencing growth is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in terms of membership. In the year 2000, it surpassed the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and became the 4th largest church in the United States.

Based on this graph and the average rate of change in the United Methodist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the LDS church is expected to surpass the United Methodist Church in the year 2017 and become the 3rd largest church in the United States. This will occur only if the declining rates of the United Methodist Church and the growth rates of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stay constant as with the past. The LDS church is already larger then the United Methodist Church internationally. and grows at a greater rate internationally.
The 2nd largest church in the United States is the Southern Baptist Convention (USA). This organization has 16,306,246 members. The total membership within the church declined in 2007 (not shown in the graph to save space). A report released in May 2008 showed that its membership is 2 to 3 times lower then the actual membership. This is because duplicate records are created when members move or switch congregations. However, this membership does not accurately portray the organization in relation to this graph. While, the other churches are united in one faith, The Southern Baptist Convention is not united in any doctrine or belief. The Southern Baptist Convention (USA) is an organization made up of thousands of individual baptist churches. All they need to do is apply and pay fees and the church is added to the convention. They do not have the desire for their doctrine or beliefs to unite. There is no unification within the organization. Each individual church has its own doctrine and own organization. They are as much divided as themselves as the Mormon church is with the Baptists or the Baptists are with the Catholics. An example are the beliefs of Mike Huckabee and Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr (although not members of the Southern Baptist Convention). My belief is they are so dis-united among themselves is it the same as what Christ often warned of (Mark 3: 24-26) in the scriptures. Since they are divided and fighting among themselves, I would not count them as a whole organization but simply thousands of churches only agreeing on a single name.

This leaves us with the growth of the LDS church and the Catholic church (largest church in the United States). I won't discuss the comparison here. A lot of critism the LDS church receives is that the LDS church counts inactives as members and that shouldn't be so. This is of much spiritual and doctrinal discussion (which will not be addressed here). A great discussion is the fact that other churches do the same thing for statistical purposes by counting members who might be inactive or non attending. Not all churches monitor activity rates or publish that information (such as the LDS church) but by comparison, the LDS church continued to grow dispite membership deaths and excommunications. If critism is shown in the LDS church, why is it not addressed in the Lutheran Churches or the other branches of christianity. The volume of decline is staggering, within these churches, even without taking into account their inactivity levels. Yet, nothing is mentioned nor discussed about their statistical reports.