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The Secular Transition: The Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists (Appendix)

The Secular Transition: The Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists (Appendix)

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Published by Chino Blanco
The Secular Transition: The Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists (Appendix)
The Secular Transition: The Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists (Appendix)

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Published by: Chino Blanco on May 11, 2010
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Ryan T. Cragun and Ronald LawsonThe Secular Transition: The Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists
Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review
Volume 71, Number 3 (Fall 2010)
APPENDIX A: RECODING THE MEMBERSHIP DATAWe requested yearly membership information for Mormonism in every country aroundthe world going back to 1960 from LDS Church Headquarters. That request was denied, but dataon close to 60 countries for varying time periods were supplied. Additional data came from apublication of the LDS religion, the
 Deseret Morning News Church Almanac
(2007), whichincludes membership information for each country with a Mormon presence for a specific year.Editions of the Almanac from 1975 through 2008 were used to build a mostly complete picture of Mormon membership information for that time period. We say “mostly complete” because thereare some problems in teasing out membership information in some countries. This was true forall three religions, where membership information was aggregated for two or more countries atsome point, and separating that information is not possible given the limited information wehave. For example, in the Mormon data, Caribbean Islands were all aggregated early on, butwere separated later into specific countries, making it impossible to disentangle those data.Where the data received from LDS headquarters and that in the Almanac overlapped there wasgenerally agreement.
To obtain the JW data we contacted the headquarters of the religion in early 2007 andasked if they had membership information for each country where they had a presence since1960. They did, but not in electronic form. The data are aggregated in a large publication (Wah2001). Photocopies of that data in five-year increments from 1960 on (e.g., 1960, 1965, 1970,1975, etc.) were requested and were promptly sent (along with a few religious tracts). Given theway the headquarters of the JWs publish their data, this also included membership informationfor the year before each 5
year. There are some limitations with the JW data . Over the last 45+years, countries have changed names, governments, and even borders. The records providedwere from the original time period and had not been updated to reflect the changes. Wereorganized the data to reflect the most accurate distribution of JWs possible (see below).The data for the SDAs were the easiest to obtain as the SDAs maintain a statistics websitewith membership data in digital format. There are still problems with the data, but not as severeas those of the JW data. Where it was impossible to disentangle membership data, themembership data for those countries were omitted and labeled “missing”.Recoding the country data from the JWs (and also from the Mormons and SDAs, but lessso) was challenging. Those who compiled the membership data are not to be faulted for usingthe standard naming practices of their day, but it did result in lengthy deliberations when it cameto recoding. In the table below, the left-hand column notes the current country name. The right-hand column includes two things. First, it includes all previous names for the country and/orterritories that make up the modern day country that were included in the JW's data or Mormondata (SDAs have recoded their data for the most part). Second, it includes all of the territories(variously called protectorates, regions, territories, etc.) of the country listed in the left-hand
column. This is only relevant for JWs and Mormons; the SDAs either do not include thosefigures in the parent country's numbers or do so without indicating as much. In building thedatabase, membership information for the countries and territories listed in the right-hand columnfor the years when data for both were reported independently was combined for both Mormonsand JWs. They were combined because the measure used for modernization – the HumanDevelopment Index – is only reported by the United Nations for the “mother” country, not for theterritories. It would have been possible to report the HDI of the mother country for each territoryand keep the territory data separate where relevant, but this seemed like it would yield lessinformation than the inverse but include more work as religious populations smaller than 500,which are common in territories, are problematic when calculating growth rates.Generally, the transition from one name to another or the inclusion of territories within acountry went smoothly. However, there were a couple of exceptions. For instance, Eritrea waspart of Ethiopia for nearly four decades before it became an independent country. In suchsituations, it is impossible without access to the original records to separate the two. Luckily,this is rare, so it is not a substantial problem. However, following are some of the morecomplicated cases. Mali and Senegal were combined at one point as the Mali Federation, butthat, too, dissolved. Disentangling those membership numbers proved to be impossible. Severalyears of data from two countries were deleted: Tibet and the United Arab Republic. The UnitedArab Republic was a relatively short-lived union between Syria and Egypt. With only two yearsof data included in what we received from the JWs, its inclusion was not warranted. With fewerthan 100 JWs in Tibet for a short time period prior to it coming under the control of China, it'sdata were also discarded.

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