April 03, 2006

Mormonism thriving in heavily Catholic US Northeast


BELMONT, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Stepping into a Mormon temple is like watching a cinematic take on heaven: everything glows in white -- from the rich upholstery to the ivory outfits of worshipers and polished marble floors.

It's also a step more people are taking in the heavily Roman Catholic U.S. Northeast, where Mormon numbers have jumped 37 percent in 10 years, nearly double the religion's national growth rate of 21 percent, church data show.

"The number of new members here is just utterly amazing," said Allan Barker, president of the Massachusetts temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the faith is formally known. ...

"Catholicism has stumbled," said Jan Shipps, president of the American Society of Church History, adding that Massachusetts's Mormon governor -- potential 2008 White House contender Mitt Romney -- also boosted the church's profile.

Tim Wilson, a 31-year-old former Catholic, said news that U.S. bishops moved priests known to have abused minors to new parishes instead of defrocking them sealed his decision to join the Mormon faith in December 2002.

"I didn't have any vested interest in belonging to an organization that would conduct such an awful situation among its priests," said Wilson, a research executive.

Posted by kshaw at April 3, 2006 09:24 AM