Forecasting the Church for 2023: How I Did

“Future of Mormonism” per Dalle-3

It’s common for pundits to make all sorts of predictions far enough in the future that people don’t really hold them accountable if they don’t pan out, so in the spirit of accountability I thought I would revisit some predictions I made last year for the Church in 2023 and see how well I did. 

  • The Church’s membership, on-the-books growth rate will be below 1% as reported in the April 2023 Conference. 

My probability: 80%


The growth rate was 1.17%. I misjudged the impact of the post-COVID bump. 

  • There will be another scandal involving local level Church leadership and sexual abuse, either perpetrated by or confessed to the local leader. 

My probability: 80%


Michael Rezendes of “Spotlight” fame has continued to write on this topic in the Latter-day Saint context.

  • There will be a major, sex- or sexuality-related Latter-day Saint story carried by more than one major news outlet (excluding Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, and excluding sexual abuse addressed in the category above). 

My probability: 70%


This one was probably too vague to be demonstrably falsifiable or confirmable, but the Tim Ballard and Housewives of SLC sagas arguably fit into this. 

  • There will be a significant policy change. Here “significant” means that it is addressed or referenced in more than one general conference talk.  

My probability: 50% (so both CORRECT and WRONG)

There have certainly been policy changes (for example, the changes in requirements for stakes), but as far as I know none that have met my threshold of being referenced in more than one general conference talk. 

  • A temple will be announced in Mongolia. 

My probability: 55%


The Church did indeed announce a temple in Mongolia.

  • The Church will open proselytizing missions in China. 

My probability: 2%


This was an easy one. And nothing in the past year has made me more optimistic on this point. 

  • The Church will open a new country for missionary work.

My probability: 75%


As far as I can tell, no new countries were opened up for missionary work in 2023 (I might be wrong, if somebody is aware of one let me know). 

  • A general authority will be excommunicated. 
  • President Nelson will resign as President of the Church. 

My probabilities: 3% and 2%, respectively. 


These were also highly unlikely, so obviously I’m not surprised I got them right. 

5 comments for “Forecasting the Church for 2023: How I Did

  1. Looking back, are there predictions you should have made (correct or incorrect) that you should have made, but didn’t? What I mean are predictions having to do with areas outside the topics you did address (demographics, current events, conference, etc.)?

  2. The big one is, of course, whether there’d be a vacancy in the 12. In hindsight I probably would have given that about even odds: there wasn’t anybody in particular I would have seen as certainly passing away, but together there was an older group that would have made the probability add up. If I were to give a probability for a vacancy this year, given my earlier estimate that President Nelson has a 37% chance of dying this year (, I would probably put it at 45%, but that’s just conjecture.

    Beyond that it’s kind of hard to know. A good prediction can be indisputably falsified or confirmed, and most of the predictions along those lines deal with institutional changes or hard numbers. And of course there are black swan events that are hard to predict.

  3. Tim Ballard totally counts.

    On abuse, I gave a 10% chance of a scandal involving a Church leader failing to report abuse after the Arizona scandal hit the news. As far as I know all the newly-reported scandals happened before that, so I’ll continue to hope the lawyers learned their lesson.

    I gave a 15% chance of a major break between the Church and the religious right in 2023, which did not happen, 35% before the 2024 election We’ll see.

    As for a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve this year, given that Elder Holland is in poor health, President Oaks and President Eyring are both at ages with high mortality rates, and no one in the Quorum is exactly a spring chicken, I’d guess more like 60%.

  4. That’s a good point re the scandal. As far as I’m aware none of the current one being reported on were from crimes that happened in the past year. Of course it often takes a while for abuse to come to the surface.

    I think you’re right to give it rather low marks on the break between the far right and the Church per your earlier definition last year: “a major mainstream news outlet will run a story about two or more significant leaders of the religious right claiming you can tell we aren’t Christians not only because of our messed up theology, but because of our positions (or general squishiness) on culture war issues,”

  5. I neglected to point out the boldest prediction of them all: in the future, Mormon women will wear hijabs. We’ll see about that Dalle 3!

    (I doubt President Nelson had AI training in mind when he encouraged us to not use the term “Mormon”, but one consequence is that AI will increasingly associate it with the FLDS and their ilk.)

Comments are closed.