Welcome to Kay Burningham's blog
about Mormonism: An American Fraud

Meet Kay Burningham,
attorney, advocate, and author of
An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case against Mormonism

Here we discuss the truth about Mormonism--what people know, but are afraid to say and what others don't know, but are afraid to learn.

Please visit Kay's official site at kayburningham.com

Excerpt from Reader review

"...Kay Burningham’s painstaking studies unfolded for her, and now her readers, the details of a grotesque fraud of cosmic proportions masquerading under a charitable fa├žade of public spirited nobility. In her book, Kay demonstrates for the world to see, how a reasonable application of the law should be applied to the “affinity fraud” of Mormonism, whose very continued existence employs the quiet acquiescence of government officials and judicial officers whose canons of ethics demand of them a higher standard than to allow this fraud to continue unchecked.

An American Fraud: One Lawyer’s Case against Mormonism, is, ..., an historically significant work that calls out the most insidious fraud of American culture for what it is. It is a timeless masterpiece, and will be associated with the beginning of the end of Mormonism in years to come.

For more information about the book, click here

Monday, January 16, 2012


Two widely reported statistical analyses regarding Mormons in America have recently been published: the Trinity College Survey, released in December, 2011 and the Pew Report, January, 2012. Incredibly, it seems that media coverage has focused more on the later report than the former. This is especially the case in Utah and most certainly true of LDS owned Deseret News. This blog is an analysis of the methodology behind the conclusions reached in both studies.

Trinity is a well-respected private college located in Hartford Connecticut; with the exception of Yale, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. Despite its Episcopal roots, years ago Trinity made it a policy not to impose any religious standards on its students. Today the liberal arts college is widely known for the diversity of its student body. Two Trinity sociology professors are the principal investigators of the report. Additionally, Rick Philips and Ryan T. Cragun (non-LDS), both affiliated with the Mormon Social Science Association, contributed to the report.

The Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which despite its title is actually a single entity created by an ultra-conservative family, the Pews. At one time the John Birch Society was a beneficiary of this organization. Per the IRS code, attaining non-profit status in 2004 allows the Trusts to devote a non-substantial part of its resources to lobbying the pubic sector.

The pool of respondents from each group, and therefore each reports' data differ widely. Trinity's potential respondents were any adults in the continental United States; Pew's respondents were adults who had been previously identified as active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thus, the conclusions reached by the two studies are not comparable. However, the respective methodologies used to gather the collected data deserve close scrutiny. Importantly, the combined American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) studies constitute the most comprehensive and objective statistical research of the numbers of Mormons in America available to social scientists. In contrast, the Pew study data drew from slightly more than a thousand acknowledged Mormons.

Trinity's report was based on two waves of data collected by ARIS, one in 1990 and the other in 2008. In both waves, respondents were obtained through randomized digit dialed telephone numbers. Pollsters from both waves asked respondents the open-ended question: "What is your religion, if any?" The 1998 survey polled 113,723 Americans and received 1,742 'LDS' or Mormon responses. In 2008 the poll reached 54,461 Americans, 783 of whom self-identified as Mormon. Though a Salt Lake Tribune report (updated Dec. 15, 2011) entitled “Gender Gap Widening among Mormons in Utah, but why?” claims that the Trinity study authors admitted to a margin of error of 4-5%, the Trinity College website estimates a statistical margin of error for the combined studies at less than 0.5%.

The Pew Study lists Luis Lugo, a University of Chicago PhD in political science as director, Cary Funk as researcher and Conrad Hackett as demographer. Additionally, two-thirds of Pew's 'panel of expert advisers' are LDS-affiliated, if not practicing Mormons: Mathew Bowman professor of religion at Hampden-Sydney College, Marie Cornwall, BYU sociology professor, Allison Pond of the Deseret News and Teryl Givens, professor of literature/religion at the University of Richmond. It is the Pew study which has a 95% confidence level, i. e., a 4-5% margin of error.

The Pew survey began armed with the landline and cell phone numbers of 91,590 ostensible Mormons—excluding former Mormons. Those whom Pew pollsters contacted were asked a series of questions about Mormonism. While almost half of these (45,710) were non-working numbers: faxes, business/government offices or otherwise "ineligible respondents," another 44,706 were: always busy, had no answer, engaged call-blocking/screening, categorized as "no screener completed," and two contacts had language/competency barriers. That left the Pew people with just 1174 total respondents. Of that number, 155 refused to speak with the pollsters, broke-off the conversation, were never available, or failed to return a message left by Pew. Thus, the total number of interviews upon which the Pew data based its conclusions is just 1019 members of the LDS Church (Pew Report pps. 81-84);697 interviews were considered a fresh sample, and 322 were recontacts from a prior sample. Additionally the data was admittedly skewed geographically to query more frequently from areas deemed to have more LDS residents per capita. However, there is no readily apparent source for these 91,590 numbers—only that they came from a “national sample.” Were they part of LDS Church records? If not, where did they originate? If so, given the abysmal response rate, these records seem to be extremely dated.

What were the results of Pew's study? With the caveat that more than half of respondents reside in the Mountain-west and a third in Utah, Pew's study concludes that Mormons were generally happy with their lives/communities, and had families where the husband supported a stay-at-home wife/mother. Two-thirds believe Mormons are not accepted in mainstream society, but also believe that they are becoming more accepted. Most are Republican and are unhappy with the federal government. Mormons were divided on whether the U.S. was ready for a Mormon president, men feeling more positive than the women surveyed. 88% of Pew respondents were Caucasian. All stressed the importance of family. Almost all described living a devout lifestyle and characterized their theology as Christian. The amount of formal education and religious orthodoxy showed a positive correlation. (Note: Utah has several so-called universities, most with LDS institutes of higher learning attached, as well as LDS-owned Brigham Young University. However, historically at least, Utah high school graduates are more likely to enroll in a local/Utah university than be accepted or even seek acceptance out of state. Yet it is only the University of Utah that has any world standing, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities).

More than 90% of Pew respondents accept the Book of Mormon as the literal word of God, written by ancient American prophets and Joseph Smith as a prophet. But even in this study, 23% of the one-thousand plus queried could not say that they believed “whole-heartedly” in all the teachings of the LDS Church. [Emphasis added] Other conclusions addressed LDS income levels, both inside and outside Utah vis a vis the remainder of the U.S.

ARIS/Trinity was able to reach a much broader database than Pew by a huge factor. As such, the margin of error is much less than in the Pew Study. At the beginning of 1990 the LDS Church claimed 1.3 million Utah Mormons or 77.2% of the people in the state of Utah. At the end of 2008 official LDS numbers posted 1.8 million members in Utah or 68% of Utah's population. During this 18 year time period the church also claims to have increased its numbers from 4,175,000 to 5,974,041 and likewise its percentage of the U.S. Population from 1.7% to 2%.

Trinity's statistics tell a much different story. According to the Trinity Study, the U.S. Mormons in 1990 numbered 2,487,000 and 3,158,000 in 2008, making the percentage of adult LDS a constant at just 1.4% of the population. Children were not queried; however, the authors explain that this would not significantly alter their findings because “...research shows that Mormon birthrates are declining...” Trinity also reports that the discrepancy can be accounted for by “...large numbers of ex-Mormons who continue to be counted by the organization.” According to this report, though Mormonism appears to attract a large number of converts, it also has nearly as large a number of apostates (just as many 'out-switchers' as 'in-switchers') and thus the over-all per capita number of LDS is not gaining, but is “treading water.” Additionally, LDS “market share” in Utah fell from 69% in 1990 to 57% in 2008.

Other interesting conclusions drawn by ARIS/Trinity are that Utah Mormons are the only U. S. religious group that maintain a majority of the population in any state. Apostasy rates are rising among young men in Utah, leading to a gender imbalance with women outnumbering men 3 to 2. Utah Mormons have a statistically larger household than Mormons elsewhere by .5 persons and Mormons are twice as likely to be Republicans as are other Americans. Like the Pew study, this study also confirmed a rising income rate among Utah Mormons.

These studies raise questions for me. Does the LDS Church count baptisms for the dead in their annual statistics of new converts? If one looks at the LDS website the number of baptism per year (excluding children born of record) are counted given. Could this number which is added to the number of children born into LDS families include those who Mormons have baptized posthumously. Over the past decade there have been articles of LDS missionaries visiting graveyards, for example, East Granby Center Cemetery in Connecticut, to record data from tombstones. For years it has been well-known that Church representatives have researched obituaries, real estate, tax and other public records to forward on to the Church genealogy department. A Holocaust victims group’s disapproval of Mormons baptizing Jews was well-publicized. More recently, an April 5, 2008 letter from the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, asks episcopal conferences to direct all bishops to keep the LDS from microfilming and digitizing information contained in parish registers“...so as not to cooperate with the erroneous practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Could this be the true source of Mormonism's “growing numbers and the reason for the discrepancy between the Trinity/ARIS numbers and those claimed in annual general conferences by the LDS Church?” This is pure speculation on my part, but it would be interesting to know the answers to whether baptisms for the dead are included in the LDS annual statistical increase of new convert baptisms, which historically have not included children of record born in that year.

The Trinity survey claims that social scientists are more apt to rely on self-reported numbers than other ways of verifying numbers which could be affected by public relations interests. One thing is clear: Mormons are told and taught that they are more numerous and widespread than good research reveals. Trinity further posits: “Organizations, however, sometimes have an incentive for overstating their membership.” Could it be that the LDS Church has such an incentive?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Opinion is Constitutionally Protected Speech

January 8, 2012, Deseret News writer, Joe Walker listed the top ten anti-Mormon statements of 2011, as claimed by a new internet group sponsored by FAIR, an LDS apologetic organization based at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University. (To read the article follow the link here.) Walker is critical of those public figures who are critical of Mormonism. What Walker doesn’t realize, and perhaps never learned, is that expressing one's opinion is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. Sadly, this is something that those who are raised in the Mormon culture do not appreciate. The very essence of our country's incredible freedom is based upon freedom of speech. With narrow exceptions, such as shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater, “fighting words,” as defined under case law or defamatory statements, American citizens are free to express their opinions. None of the statements cited are outside First Amendment protection.

This is the problem with growing up a Utah Mormon. By attempting to control what Mormons read, view or otherwise learn, the LDS Church has heavily censored thoughts and the ability to reason. When an authoritarian government—whether religious or secular—acts in this manner—restricting access or promoting mind-control tactics—those subject to this tyranny suffer serious intellectual impediment. Only in a community of freely circulating ideas can one truly choose what makes sense, sounds credible and even "feels right." This is the beauty of our country.

Certainly Mormons take no pause in criticizing Catholicism and historically, even Christianity, or other such religious organizations who have many fervent believers. In history, despots Mao Tse-tung and Stalin are criticized; so is the political philosophy of communism, but that doesn’t translate into an attack on those subjected to the political philosophy. Comparing opinion statements regarding the belief system called Mormonism, doesn’t necessarily involve a criticism of the average Mormon. On the other hand, criticism of those who have chosen to step beyond Mormonism's strictures is leveled vehemently by those who remain. From the pulpit LDS leaders have even engaged in name-calling of those who have chosen to leave Mormonism behind; they are "junk yard dogs," or snakes. These are kindergarten ad hominem attacks which only reveal the ignorance of the speakers.

Our nation will always be at least a moderately pluralistic society; with regard to life philosophy or religious belief systems the only desirable limit is where those statements threaten the safety of individuals or claim as facts, things that are not. Attorney Richard Packham's version of Mark Twain's quotation comes to mind: "one man's sacred cow is another man's hamburger." And that, my friends, is just how it is—thanks to our founding fathers.