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The Rise of the Mormons:
Latter-day Saint Growth in the 21st Century

by Mark E. Koltko-Rivera

The Latter-day Saints (LDS/’Mormons’) will become a global religion with hundreds of millions, or even billions, of followers–within a century. In this book, written for the general public, award-winning social scientist Mark Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D., explains:

    • how the Mormons grew from a tiny group in 1830s New York to being the fourth-largest church in America as of 2012;
    • why Mormon growth slowed after 1990–and why it will soon explode, both in the United States and throughout the world;
    • why Mormon beliefs resonate with society’s hopes, fears, aspirations–even obsessions–in ways that can make the LDS faith especially attractive to many people in today’s world;
    • how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will become the second-largest–or even the largest–church in the United States by 2120;
    • how this church could become the second-largest religious body in the entire world, with over two billion members, by 2120.

Dr. Koltko-Rivera describes what a ‘more Mormon’ world would look like, and how this faith could fuel a global Renaissance of cultural creativity. He also explains the implications of Mormon growth for the great majority of people who walk other paths.

Includes references, index. 5 illustrations, 29 figures, 22 tables, 2 charts.


  • Intro.: Who the Mormons Are.
  • Mormon Growth & Why It Happened, 1830-2011:
    • Why the dramatic rise in LDS converts after 1973?
    • Why the slowing of growth after 1990?
  • The Matrix of Future Mormon Growth: The Mormon World in 2012.
  • Future Mormon Growth Worldwide through 2120.
  • Future Mormon Growth in the U.S. through 2120.
  • Objections & Responses:
    • “How valid can projections be, so far into the future?”
    • “All sorts of things could upset your projections!”
    • “The pitfalls of straight-line projections” and the effects of organized opposition to Mormonism.
    • “How could the LDS grow so large so quickly?”
    • Modernization & Secularization.
    • “An American church like the LDS will be less appealing in a post-American world.”
    • “The Mormons will run out of money first.”
    • “The Pentecostals will outgrow the Mormons.”
    • “There won’t be enough people on the Earth to accommodate these projections.”
    • “There won’t be enough people in America.”
    • “So many Mormons–in Protestant America?”
    • “But more Mormons than Catholics?
    • “The Mormons are falling away in droves.”
    • “But the LDS scriptures say the future Church will be ‘few’ and its dominions ‘small’!”
  • Why Religions Grow: A Model.
  • Exterior Forces “Pulling” for Mormon Growth:
    • Central & South America and sub-Saharan Africa
    • The United States
    • Europe
    • Mainland China
    • India
    • The lands of Islam
  • Interior Forces “Pushing” for Mormon Growth:
    • The power of science and technology.
    • The struggle to survive the end of civilization.
    • The ambition to transform beyond the human.
    • The discovery of extraterrestrial (intelligent) life.
  • Knowledge Forces and Mormon Growth.
  • The Potential Impact of High Mormon Growth: A ‘More Mormon’ World:
    • more physically and mentally healthy
    • better educated
    • foundation for a new Renaissance
    • and much more!
  • Afterword: The Meaning of Mormon Growth.
  • Appendix A: Sources of Statistical Data & Methods of Projections.
  • Appendix B: The Slowing of Mormon Growth Post-1990: A Statistical Analysis.
  • Appendix C: Why Do People Convert to Mormonism?
  • Appendix D: Tracking Charts: Projected vs. Actual Mormon Growth, 2012-2040.

About the Author

Mark Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D., holds a doctoral degree from the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University (NYU). He is an elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association. For his scholarship, he has received several awards: the Margaret Gorman Early Career Award in the psychology of religion (from the Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality), the Carmi Harari Early Career Award for Inquiry (Society for Humanistic Psychology), and, on two occasions, the George A. Miller Award for an outstanding recent article on general psychology (Society for General Psychology). He has taught at NYU, the University of Central Florida, and elsewhere. His psychological scholarship has appeared in Review of General Psychology, the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and Psychotherapy. He was born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, where he long lived in the East Village. He graduated from Regis High School (NYC), and holds an undergraduate degree from Haverford College (majoring in psychology) and a masters degree from Fordham University (in counseling). Mark Koltko-Rivera converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while attending college. He served for two years as an LDS missionary in the Japan Okayama Mission. He has served in the Church as a home teacher (i.e., priesthood visitor), a Sunday School teacher, a member of a stake high council, and a bishop’s counselor (the rough equivalent of an associate pastor). He has published articles in the independent LDS publications Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and Sunstone magazine.

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