Mormons in the Inner Cities

In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, there’s a good article about the growth of the Mormon Church in our nation’s inner cities (and particularly in Philadelphia). The 5.5 million member church is larger than the ELCA, and growing at a quick pace. And this traditionally all-white church (which once taught that non-whites couldn’t be priests) is growing among hispanics and african americans. The article doesn’t seek to analyze why the Mormon church is growing (nationwide or in the inner cities) – it just focuses on the growth and the church’s legacy as a white organization.

But why is it that the Mormon church is growing? And how should we Lutherans look at this growth? What can we learn? Do we just shrug our shoulders and attribute their growth to bad theology and rigid discipline? (That’s what many of us say – or think but leave unsaid – about Evangelicals or other "competing" religious groups).  Though I have concerns about their theology and teachings, I am impressed that an overwhelmingly white church is able to grow among blacks and latinos.  Can our overwhelmingly white church experience similar growth in non-white ethnic and racial communities?

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