LDS Statistics In Utah


Mormonism and the Family: How Much Is That Family In The Window?
By Rick Branch


“It is not necessary to consider the helplessness of modern Christianity against drunkeness, Sabbath breaking, infidelity, dishonesty in public office, class distinction, pauperism, insanity and the thousand and one evils the existence of which is in evidence every day.

“They are all symptoms of the moral disease from which humanity is suffering without any prospect of relief from modern

Christianity; all of which proves that the modern brand is not the Christianity of Jesus, but a substitute,” (The Rise of Antichrist or The Great “Falling Away:” A Study in Ecclesiastical History

, Deseret, 1913 ed. p. 124-125).
This scathing evaluation of Christianity comes not from some vocal atheist or secular humanist, but rather from J.M. Sjodahl, who is listed as a “prominent

Latter-day Saint” in the 1979 Deseret New Church Almanac (p. 256). He continues, “We have spoken of the failure of the Roman church

to save the world. It is necessary to add that the same must be the verdict whenever the Protestant churches, with all their subdivisions, are on trial,” (Ibid, p. 125).

Since Sjodahl apparently wishes to put churches on trial, perhaps his church should be tried as well. There is a precedence for this, based on the exhortation of David O. McKay, ninth prophet of the LDS Church: “Go into any Latter-day Saint home, and there see if you can find anything that is not uplifting and ennobling,” (The Improvement Era, March 1965, p. 188). Also, Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth prophet has boldly declared, “Saints are the best people. We are, notwithstanding our weaknesses, the best people in the world…. We are morally clean, in every way equal, and in many ways superior to any other people,” (Doctrines of Salvationœ, Vol. 1, p. 236). Finally, from the LDS First Presidency comes the voice of Gordon B. Hinckley, who said, “…it must be a duty of church members to again help lift mankind towards God and be examples to the rest of humanity,” (Spectrum Church Life, Oct. 8, 1982, p. 8). Since the LDS prophets and apostles have thrown down the gauntlet to “find anything not ennobling,” the challenge is accepted.

Because the Mormon Church is headquartered in Utah, and because Utah is over 70 percent LDS, the best way to determine the effectiveness of the LDS faith on human actions is to view the state as a microcosm of Mormonism. It is, of course, realized that not all moral infractions can be attributed to members of the Mormon church any more than they can all be attributed to the less than 30 percent non-Mormon populace.

Child Abuse

According to the Mormon owned Deseret News, “The Division of Family Services investigated 11,235 reports of child abuse and neglect during 1988. But while the number of reports was down slightly from the previous year, the number of victims rose by 32 percent to 6,577.

“According to the annual report of the Central Register for Child Abuse and Neglect, sexual abuse, physical neglect and physical abuse accounted for nearly two-thirds of all abuse cases in Utah.

“The report says that 1,513 of the victims had been sexually abused, in most cases by someone outside the immediate family. Conversely, most non-sexual child abuse and neglect was committed by parents and three-quarters of all abuse was perpetrated by someone living with the child,” (May 27, 1989, p. 12-D).

In addition to this statistical report, Marsell Keck, a Salt Lake City attorney reported at this year’s Sunstone Symposium, “That right now child sexual abuse allegations are rampant. In her first four years of practice, she said she had one sexual abuse allegation.”

Keck continued by stating that although some of the allegations have been proven false, “In the past two years, she said she has had only three divorces in which there had not been child sexual abuse allegations,” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, Aug. 28, 1989, p. 2B).

Crime and Alcohol

Although the following statistics are from a few years ago, they do demonstrate a trend.

“During the decade between 1969 and 1978, Utah’s crime rate increased 129 percent — even faster than the 106 percent national increase. Utah is still a relatively safe place to live, but violent crime did increase 95 percent during those years, compared to a 50 percent increase nationally. And crimes against property grew 131 percent, placing Utah in the top fifth of the nation,” (American Demographics, May 1982, p. 22).

Despite the fact that Utah ranks 48th nationally in alcohol consumption, “Utahns consumed 33 percent more alcohol in 1977 than in 1970, compared to a national consumption growth of only 22 percent,” (Ibid).


Richard Hemrick, director of the Recovery Center at Humana Hospital, a substance-abuse program, explained, “Utahns may enjoy the distinction of drinking on average one gallon less alcohol each a year than Americans in general, but they lead the nation in the use of prescription drugs…,” (Salt Lake Tribune April 1, 1989 p. E3).

The abuse is increasing at such alarming rates that Robert Boswell, associate director of the Cottage Program, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Salt Lake City, has observed “Mormon women abuse prescription drugs more often than other women because they are taught that using alcohol is a sin….

“He said that while abuse of alcohol and drugs such as marijuana remains relatively low in Utah, prescription drug abuse exceeds the national average,” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, Jan. 23, 1988 p. 2C).

Not only among LDS women, the problem is also very serious among the Mormon youth. “A Weber County drug-abuse counselor says that Latter-day Saints need to come up with additional creative solutions to cope with the drug-abuse problem touching its youth and adult members.

“In contrast to nationwide `Just say no’ campaigns which appear to be helping reduce drug abuse among non-Mormons, Rick D. Hawks says such advertising and public relations is not working with Mormon teens,” (Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 25, 1989 p. 6B).


Of all the sub-categories listed in this article, this is the saddest. For unlike the others, there is no recovery from this act. “Suicides among Utah children 10 to 14 increased 112 percent between 1980 and 1987, but because overall numbers of self-inflicted deaths are so small, experts are reluctant to say there is a trend,” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, March 3, 1989 p. 4C).


Despite all the rhetoric by the LDS prophets and apostles, the facts expose the reality of life in a Mormon family. Though the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might wish to claim the universal appearance of a showcase family, there can be little doubt that many suffer from the same ills as found in non-LDS families. In addition, it appears in some areas, Mormon families may be even more susceptible than non-LDS families.

Latter-day Saints Are People, Too: Is Mormonism in Utah really working?

Over 70 percent of Utah’s population claims to be Latter-day Saints. Surely not all of the problems experienced by Utah can be blamed on its “Gentile, non-


” population.

Child Abuse

“Unless Utah quickly moves to interrupt the spiraling cycle of child abuse and neglect, where substantiated cases have climbed 44 percent since 1987, the number of perpetrators and victimized children will continue to grow, a legislative fiscal analyst has cautioned.”

According to analyst J. Winslow, “State expenditures to treat child-abuse victims will serve less than 200 children in fiscal 1990.”

Concerning the statistics, each of which represents a vulnerable child, “Numerically, neglect is highest, with cases up to 3,716 in 1989, as compared to 2,515 in 1987.

“The largest percentage increase was in physical abuse which grew from 1,287 to 2,096 cases or 63 percent. And the number of sexual abuse victims grew 53 percent, from 1,162 to 1,770 victims.”

Ronald Stromberg, Director of the Office of Social Services, explained, “While the number of child-abuse investigation have increased 76 percent since 1982, staff increases have only gone up 12 percent,” (Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 24, 1990 p. 1-B).


“With a higher-than-average divorce rate in Utah, compared to the rest of the country, as well as a larger population of children under 18, Ms. McGee said children in Utah `are at greater risk of suffering the impact of divorce.’

“Utah’s divorce rate is 5.4 per 1,000 persons, compared to 4.8 nationally. Salt Lake County’s divorce rate is almost 50 percent higher than the national average, at 6.4 divorces per 1,000,” (Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 11, 1990 p. 1-E).

Rosalind McGee is the executive director of Utah Children, a group advocating children’s rights.

Per Capita Income

As Steve Johnson of Utahns Against Hunger has observed, “We always hear about the per capita, and they say it’s our large families, but the statistics show the individual Utah wage earner pulls in between 10 and 15 percent less than the national average. We are a poor state.”

The news article continues by explaining, “Advocates for Utah’s poor are saying the state must admit it has a problem and then plan a strategy to deal with not only those on the welfare rolls but the working poor that comprise a burgeoning economic class in Utah,” (Deseret News, April 22, 1989 p. A-7).

Out-of-Wedlock Births

“Statewide, 4,218 children were born out of wedlock for a rate of 117 per thousand live births.

“The number of out-of-wedlock births in the state increased by 7 percent from 1987 to 1988, the 14th consecutive year the out-of-wedlock birth¬rate has increased in Utah,” (Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 12, 1990 p. 6-B).

In the final analysis then, what do all these statistics mean? Just that people in Utah, be they

LDS or non-LDS

are still people. They have the same wants and hurts as all other people.

While the <AHREF=”.. cat95.htm#LDS?Mormon commercials on television and advertisements in the news stand magazines may promise a better family life, the statistics are not able to confirm this promise.

Scams and the Latter-day Saints       -By Rick Branch

Arlington, TX

For years, Utah, which has a population of over 70 percent


, has fought against the stigma of being called the Scam Capital of America.

In 1984, Ken Thornberg, Director of the Better Business Bureau office in Idaho, said he believed that, “…a majority of the nation’s illegal investment scams originate in Utah.

“`I would say – and I am not exaggerating – that 75 percent of the country’s major investment schemes are hatched in the Salt Lake City-Provo area,'” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 26 March 1984, p. 10A).

Whether the statistics are completely accurate or not, Thornberg is not alone in his assessment that the “majority” of the scams and fraudulent organizations are created in Utah.

“As early as 1969 the Wall Street Journal called Salt Lake City `a locus for shell operations.’

“Then in 1974 the infamous `stock fraud capital’ moniker was awarded Salt Lake City in a page one Wall Street Journal article on February 25, 1974. The headline: `Dubious Distinction; Salt Lake City Gains Reputation for Being a Stock Fraud Center,'” (Utah Holiday, October 1990, p. 26).

This downward trend continued to be noticed and ten years later in 1984, Newsweek magazine wrote, “Utah, the land of the Mormons, has earned itself another name: the Stock-Fraud Capital of the Nation,” (Ibid, p. 27).

With such national notoriety, people in Utah must have known the con artists were working their area.

Thus, the question begs to be asked, what is the cause of such a phenomenon?

Perhaps the February 6, 1984 issue of Business Week provides an insight into the problem.

“Many (LDS) church members are likely to accept without question an investment recommendation made by another Mormon. Hucksters try to exploit this tendency by trying to bring church officials into investor groups or by portraying themselves as good church-going Mormons,” (Utah Holiday, October 1990, p. 27).

In a United Press International article, this rationale was again reiterated.

The UPI said, “Major reasons for the success of scams in Utah are the highly organized, tightly knit structure and trust-oriented doctrines of the Mormon Church,” (Ibid).

Apparently realizing the problem, in 1984 Utah’s “Governor Scott Matheson appointed a new Securities Task Force, including (Hugh) Pinnock, in part to confront what experts were calling a `Mormon connection’ to many of the schemes,” (Ibid).

Hugh Pinnock had been a member of the Mormon Church’s General Authorities since 1977 when he was appointed to the First Quorum of the Seventy.

According to the March 11, 1985 Forbes magazine interview with Pinnock, “…Utahans were now wiser to swindlers. `They just aren’t as unsophisticated as they once were,” (Ibid).

However, it would be this same Hugh Pinnock that would feel the sting of a con artist a few years later, at the hands of the infamous Mark Hofmann.

Pinnock would help Hofmann secure a $185,000 “…signature loan at the bank where Pinnock was a director – a loan to buy documents that did not even exist,” (Ibid).

In 1986, the San Diego Union provided further information on the scam game.

No longer was the media simply reporting about Utah being the Fraud Capital of America. Now, it was Mormons taking advantage of Mormons.

“In recent years, Utah has been called the fraud capital of the United States, and many defendants in fraud cases have been Mormon officials who used church connections to victimize other members,” (5 October 1986, p. A-25).

The problem increased to the point where the Ogden, Utah paper reported:

“The cultural emphasis in the Mormon Church that equates financial success with spiritual success, and an unquestioning allegiance to authority figures, may partly explain why 10,000 Utah investors have been swindled out of more than $200 million during the past decade,” (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 26 August 1989, p. 3C).

Not only did the scam artist attract the favor of the LDS families, the elderly, the uneducated and the General Authorities, they also conned the fraud watcher himself.

“Washington, D.C.-based columnist Jack Anderson, A Utah Mormon, admits that he foolishly sent off $12,000 after hearing of [what turned out to be a Utah-based scam] from a friend back in Salt Lake,” (Forbes 20 June 1983, p. 33).

The problem seems to be twofold.

First, because of the tight-knit LDS social structure, con artists prey and breed in this atmosphere.

Second, because of the willingness of Mormons to follow blindly an authoritarian structure, con artists are able to use this to their advantage.

The solution to the problem is one that is applicable not only to Latter-day Saints, but also to anyone considering an investment.

As Forbes magazine explains, “Never take people solely at face value, and don’t invest your money without checking carefully first,” (Ibid, p. 34).

Utah Child Abuse

According to the


owned radio station in Salt Lake City, “The State Division of Family Services reported a 343 percent increase in child sexual abuse referrals from 1982 through 1987,” (KSL Radio, May 18, 1989, p. 1 transcript). For the same period of time, the Salt Lake Tribune reported slightly higher figures. “There were 1,170 children who reported they were sexually abused in Utah in 1987, more than four times the number of victims reported in 1982, according to the annual report of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice,” (Dec. 24, 1988).

Regardless of which set of figures are accurate, there is a lot of hurt taking place in Utah. Though the state is only a little over 70 percent Mormon, it can be safely assumed that not all the child abuse cases are being perpetrated by the nearly 30 percent non-LDS.

For all of Mormonism’s talk about happy families, apparently not all are quite so happy. Please pray for those parents lost in Mormonism and for the children in these families.

Gambling Utahans: Crossing The Line  By Marsha Norton

Two towns with the same name, separated only by a state boundary, are evidence that all is not well in Zion.

Wendover, split in two by the Nevada/Utah border, is “divided by the contrary philosophies of hell-raising Nevada and God-fearing Utah,” (Las Vegas Sun, 16 October 1990, p. 2B). The Sun article states, “Religion lies at the root of the differences. Utah has more church-goers per capita than any state. More than two-thirds of Utah residents belong to the

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

, commonly known as the Mormon Church.

“Mormon theology considers gambling a forbidden vice, and the state constitution follows suit, banning all games of chance involving money,” (Ibid).

However, the Wendover, Utah businessmen, “…point at the Utah cars streaming across the notorious white line and say somebody in Utah obviously likes to gamble,” (Ibid). Despite the LDS Church’s ban on gambling, many Utahans cross the boarder to where gambling is legal. These travelers are mainly responsible for supporting Wendover’s six casinos and making “the town blossom like a desert rose,” (Ibid).

Mormon Polygamy Still Bearing Fruit in Utah By Timothy Oliver

During the last two months the Utah press has seen a flurry of stories concerning polygamy which seem to have largely escaped national media attention. The issue was brought to the forefront when a sixteen-year-old Utah girl alleged her polygamous father had beaten her, May 24, 1998, after her second attempt to escape a polygamous marriage to her father’s brother. She was the thirty-two-year-old man’s fifteenth wife.

According to reports published in the

Deseret News, and the Salt Lake Tribune

, the girl had returned to her mother’s home after running from her marriage to her uncle. The girl’s mother, a polygamous wife herself, called the girl’s father. He drove the girl to a remote family farm near the Utah/Idaho border, where she says he gave her a severe beating with a belt, apparently to the point that she lost consciousness. While driving to the site of the beating, he had also grabbed her by her hair, pulled her over and punched her face with his fist.

The girl could not recall having left the barn where the beating occurred. The next thing she knew was when she woke up on the living room couch of another of her father’s polygamous wives. She later escaped and walked three miles to a gasoline station, where she dialed 911 for help.

The father was arrested, but later released on $10,000 bail. A preliminary hearing was held July 23, 1998, where he was ordered to stand trial by 1st District Judge Ben Hadfield. If he is convicted, he could be imprisoned for as many as fifteen years.

The girl has been held in protective custody and foster care. A custody hearing in juvenile court has been scheduled for August 24, 1998. A trust fund has been set up by the Utah Division of Child and Family Services to help pay the girl’s educational expenses. Persons wishing to contribute may call 435-734-4075.

Present at the preliminary hearing were ten members of TOP, Tapestry of Polygamy, a support group for women and children leaving polygamy. The group had also held a June 2 press conference in support of the girl when the story first broke. TOP members were naturally appalled to hear remarks by Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, July 23, 1998, that appeared to be soft on enforcement of anti-polygamy law in Utah.

According to Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reports, Leavitt questioned whether or not the practice of polygamy might be protected under the First Amendment, saying “these people have religious freedoms.” On Monday, July 27, TOP member Laura Chapman “stood before Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt’s office door and pleaded for him to enforce the laws regarding polygamy” <


TOP members also presented the governor’s staff with a letter including the charge, “You have publicly implied that you have no intentions of enforcing anti-polygamy and bigamy laws, which is contrary to the obligations of your office. In the eyes of the honest, law-abiding citizens of Utah, this is deplorable. We demand action.” The letter also made it clear the matter could affect Leavitt’s political career: “How can we feel comfortable re-electing a governor who does not have an opinion concerning actions which are against the law?”



In the two months since the report of the girl’s beating, the Salt Lake press has published extensively on the story, as well as on the history, abuses, and current status of polygamy in Utah and Arizona (see esp. The Salt Lake Tribune’s June 28 “Sunday Magazine,”


>). Most of the reporting has been fair and unbiased. Unfortunately, however, there did appear to be some attempts to use the story as a vehicle for rewriting and whitewashing Mormon history and current Mormon doctrine. In the Deseret News, for instance, June 3rd and 4th stories by Carla Byram said polygamy was disavowed by the Mormon Church in 1890. In the same paper a July 25th story by Lucinda Dillon said that polygamy “is also condemned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.…the Church formally prohibited it in 1890” and a July 28 story by Byram claimed “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially denounced the practice in 1890 (emphasis added).

The Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language defines disavow as: “To deny cognizance of or a responsibility for; to disown; to repudiate; to reject.” Since Wilford Woodruff’s 1890 Manifesto denied any knowledge of, and all responsibility for, any plural marriages being contracted during the previous year, one could say, technically and only in the first sense given above, that he disavowed plural marriage. The general connotation of the word today, however, consistent with all three of the other senses given above, is pejorative or condemnatory. It is obvious, too, that The Deseret News, or at least Ms. Byram would have it taken in the pejorative sense, since her July 28 story uses the word denounced, which is very clearly negative or pejorative. Dillon’s use of condemned and prohibited round out the picture that The Deseret News was obviously trying to create. That picture is a travesty of both Woodruff’s and the Church’s current view on the subject of polygamy, and a smirch on the professional and ethical standards of journalism at The Deseret News.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s reporting was more comprehensive and, generally, historically more accurate. Even so, two June 28 stories by Tom Zoellner used the “disavowal” term, and stories by Judy Fahys, Brian Maffley, and Sheila R. McCann, on July 24 and 28 claimed the Church and its leaders “formally forbade” polygamy in 1890. The July 24 story said that by accepting the anti-polygamy clause into its Constitution, the Utah “state government rejected a tradition in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…” A tradition?!!

Students of the subject, both inside and outside the Church, know this was no mere tradition, but for many years, cardinal doctrine. Church leaders had taught for several decades that exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom was dependent upon a person’s practicing polygamy in this life. Brigham Young, for example, on August 19, 1866, had taught, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269). Many other similar statements from Mormon apostles and prophets are on record, but must be passed over here for lack of time and space.

In his 1890 Manifesto, Woodruff declared his intention to submit to the marriage laws of the land and use his “influence” to have Church members do likewise. As president and prophet to the Church, Woodruff could have explicitly “formally forbidden” polygamy then and there, but he did not. Rather than forbid it outright, he merely gave it as his “advice” that church members “refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.”

That last little phrase allowed Utah Church members to travel to Mexico and other locales where no “laws of the land” explicitly forbade polygamy, and there contract their polygamous marriages. Moreover, even within the state of Utah, Mormon leaders, including Mormon apostles, contracted new polygamous marriages themselves, and conducted such ceremonies for others. At least one of these was done with the personal knowledge and consent of Woodruff himself. Not until 1904 did the Church actually begin to take active hard-line measures against those practicing polygamy.

Mormon teaching today does forbid the practice of polygamy, as compliance with the laws of the land. However, never has the Church acknowledged doing wrong in the practice of this principle, nor has it ever acknowledged the principle itself to have been wrong or morally reprehensible. To the contrary, it still teaches that “plural marriage” is a divine principle and holy institution ordained of God, the practice of which is held in only temporary abeyance. The so-called revelation commanding that the principle be practiced is still printed by the Church as scripture binding on the consciences of its members (Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 132).