Religion
5:35 pm
Sat October 5, 2013

Mormon Church Membership Reaches 15 Million

A Mormon temple in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The president of the Mormon church says worldwide membership has hit 15 million, representing a three-fold increase over the three decades.

President Thomas S. Monson announced the milestone during the opening session of the two-day Mormon church conference Saturday morning.

The biannual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brings 100,000 members to Salt Lake City. More than half of church members live outside of the United States.

Monson says the church was founded with 30 members in 1830, taking more than a century to hit the 1 million milestone.

Matt Martinich, a member of the LDS church who analyzes membership numbers with the nonprofit Cumorah Foundation, says church membership has tripled since 1982 when there were 5 million members.

A Mormon church leader says having women at home remains an essential part of society, and he cautioned against blurring feminine and masculine differences.

D. Todd Christofferson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve. His speech Saturday came during a two-day church conference in Salt Lake City.

Christofferson said women's "moral force" has kept societies on the righteous track for generations. He criticized feminist thinkers who view "homemaking with outright contempt."

He said overlooking the differences between men and women would lead to losing the complementary gifts of the two genders that work in harmony.

Later Saturday afternoon, a feminist Mormon women's group called Ordain Women plans to ask to be let in an all-male priesthood meeting to highlight what they perceive as gender inequality.