By Wilfried Decoo and Ellen Decoo
Table of Contents
Locating Academic Sources
By Wilfried Decoo and Ellen Decoo
The first Mormon missionaries arrived in England in 1837. They found a responsive public among religious seekers in the working class. Converts were encouraged to gather to Zion. In the 1850s, the work expanded to more European countries. Protestant countries in the north, Denmark and Sweden in particular, yielded much better results than the predominantly Catholic countries in the south such as France and Italy. Protestants were more used to religious diversity and Scriptural study. They could also more easily accept the argument of a Great Apostasy and the need of a Restoration. Moreover, the appeal to emigrate to the US made that by 1890 some 91,000 members, mainly British and Scandinavian, had emigrated to the intermountain West, laying a genetic foundation that persists till today. In view of the struggling pioneer period in Utah, it is noteworthy that the church in England took care of a new printing of the Book of Mormon, the periodical The Millennial Star, and The Journal of Discourses.
After 1900 missionary work continued, often against stiff opposition fed by religious anti-Mormon publications and by lurid tales about polygamy. The conversion pattern remained: Protestant countries yielded more converts than Catholic ones. The First World War saw Mormon soldiers on both sides of the conflict, but most existing branches endured. After the war, missionary work accelerated. However, in spite of church counsel, emigration to the Mormon West continued to deplete local church units. At the outbreak of the Second World War, all missionaries were withdrawn and local congregations had to survive on their own. Their stories, and from those involved in the war effort, are well documented.
From the 1970s on, the Church succeeded in establishing a presence in countries behind the Iron Curtain, first through small humanitarian and pedagogical projects. Quiet diplomacy behind the scenes cleared obstacles. In 1985 the Church was able to open a temple in East Germany. Next the collapse of communist regimes allowed to expand missionary work in most post-Soviet countries. However, the initial euphoria did not last when the reinstated national churches, in accord with governments seeking to foster national pride, enacted restrictive legislation to impede the spread of nonindigenous religions. Also, in many European countries anti-cult movements disparaged any unfamiliar sect, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, and Mormonism.
By the turn of the century more non-Europeans than native Europeans were willing to listen to the missionaries’ message—refugees, temporary workers, and international students, in particular from Africa. It makes most local church units multilingual and multicultural. However, that internal diversity is supplanted by the strict conformity to the Church’s worldwide model of uniform organization, meeting formats, and programs.
For the end of 2019, the Church reported 497,436 members in Europe (45 countries listed). It comes to about six Latter-day Saints per 10,000 people. Of those six, less than two are active members.
ProQuest, JSTOR and EBSCO are the most relevant databases for the topics listed below. Queries in Google Scholar would also identify many relevant publications.
Traditional bibliographies remain valuable for overviews up to their date of publication. Hunter’s bibliography on Mormonism in Europe lists entries up to 2010.  Whittaker lists more than 200 publications on Mormon missionary work in Europe alone.  The bibliography of studies in Mormon history up to 1997 contains numerous references to Europe.
Many departments of sociology or of religious studies at European universities have interest in minority religions. It is highly advisable to seek cooperation with such centers.
The better publications include social, political, and religious factors and pay more attention to the church members themselves. Other noteworthy books and articles focus on specific regions, church units, or individual Mormons in Europe.
How is “religious freedom” interpreted in each country and how have laws and rules evolved with effect on Mormonism?
The concept of “recognition” differs from country to country. Church claims to “recognition” deserve more analysis.
State-church financial relations include tax-exempt status, state subsidies, gift-deductibility for members, and public reporting. Each State has its own regulations, sometimes leading to legal conflicts with the Church.
Which projects in which European countries? To what extent are they also used for missionary purposes?
Similar questions arise about church representation to the European Union.
Various public relations initiatives and media campaigns have tried to improve the Church’s image in Europe. How have these been conducted and what are the effects?
Are there Mormon allegiances with like-minded organizations or denominations, in particular in “defense of the family,” often with an underlying pro-life and anti-LGBT agenda? How were these ties established and how do they play out?
How have church leaders viewed ideologies such as socialism and humanism and events such as revolutions and wars in Europe? How did these views shape church rhetoric?
For some analysts, the US-based church views the rest of the world as a territory for expansion. How do local members experience this Americentrism and their relation to church headquarters?
This topic deals with attitudes and behavior, and the creation of local Mormon identities.
How to situate Mormonism in a changing European religious landscape?
Mormon data in relation to the overall demography of a country? What do other proselyting groups achieve in similar periods?
Which factors make an ethnic group or a social class more or less willing to listen to the church message? How do conversions occur? What are European church guidelines pertaining to Jewish and Muslim candidates for baptism? What are the backgrounds of converts?
How do civil and ecclesiastical entities react to (Mormon) proselytism? How have anti-cult movements dealt with Mormonism?
Yearly church leaders release the number of members in every country. Not revealed are other demographic data—birth rates, gender ratios, age averages, marriage and divorce data, the multigenerational increase, and activity rates. Other data pertain to race and ethnicity, in particular due to the influx of non-European converts. What is the repartition over urban and rural areas?
How do Mormons in each country compare to the general population as to educational levels, employment status, types of occupation, and income? How do they compare to the Mormon population in general and in the US?
To what extent does church membership cause socio-cultural alienation from the host society?
Mauss discussed how the costs of church membership in Europe are higher than on average in the US. Surveys can measure the assessment of costs and correlate with variables such as service involvement, years of membership, convert or not, family support, and more.
Between 70 and 80 percent of the members are “inactive.” What are its varieties, its causes and consequences? What about return rates?
Increasingly Mormon converts are “allochthones” (economic immigrants, temporary workers, refugees, international students …), in particular from Africa. It results in multicultural and multiracial congregations. How does their acculturation proceed?
Emigration to “Zion” is one of the most studied topics, in particular from Britain in the nineteenth century. It includes studies on the “Europeanization” of the Utah Territory. How does present-day Mormon emigration to the US continue? What are the consequences, such as leadership loss and brain drain? To what extent do young adults, especially from East European countries, seek to emigrate using church-related channels?
What is the Impact of reorganizing units (branches, districts, missions, wards, stakes)? With the movement to “Centers of strength,” units are closed and members are assigned to a larger, “consolidated” unit in another city. What are the consequences?
Social media allow members to post and comment. What do these exchanges reveal? To what extent do Mormons in Europe participate in US-based blogs and podcasts?
Since the 1850s Mormonism has drawn the attention of (prominent) European analysts of religion fascinated by the birth of a “new religion.” That academic attention continues to this day.
European travelers’ accounts of Mormons.
Documentary and analytical publications on Mormonism in European literature and films. It can include comics and translations of US-based literature.
The topic is inexhaustible: Mormonism in newspapers and periodicals, as well as related administrative documents, police reports, and court proceedings, providing data and more context to Mormon history. For the present, what is the effect of both positive and negative media coverage on Mormonism on church members?
Numerous cultural and semantic problems arise with the translation of doctrinal and ecclesiastical terms.
Process and challenges? Influence on identity formation and long-term effects on career?
What are the options? Compelled integration into a unilingual unit? Talks and lessons given in two or more languages? A separate “ethnic” unit? How are cases handled?
For members whose mother tongue is not English, what is the effect on Mormon identity of knowing English and having access to much more church-related information?
 David J. Whittaker, “Mormon Missiology: An Introduction and Guide to the Sources,” in Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges (eds.), The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine (Provo: BYU Press, 2000): 459–486.
 James B. Allen, Ronald W. Walker, and David J. Whittaker, Studies in Mormon History, 1830-1997: An Indexed Bibliography; with a Topical Guide to Published Social Science Literature on the Mormons by Armand L. Mauss and Dynette Ivie Reynolds (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000).
 See for more detail Wilfried Decoo, “Issues in Writing European History and in Building the Church in Europe,” Journal of Mormon History 23, no. 1 (1997): 139–176.
 Examples: Raymond M. Kuehne, Mormons as Citizens of a Communist State: A Documentary History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in East Germany, 1945-1990 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2010); James A. Toronto, Eric R. Dursteler, and Michael W. Homer, Mormons in the Piazza: History of the Latter-day Saints in Italy (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2017).
 Examples: Richard L. Jensen, “Mr. Samuelsen Goes to Copenhagen: The First Mormon Member of a National Parliament,” Journal of Mormon History 39, no. 2 (2013): 1–34; Raymond Kuehne, Henry Burkhardt and LDS Realpolitik in Communist East Germany (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2011); Roger P. Minert, Against the Wall: Johann Huber and the First Mormons in Austria (Provo: Religious Studies Center & Deseret Book, 2015); Matthew Lyman Rasmussen, Mormonism and the Making of a British Zion (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2016).
 Example: Hannah Clayson Smith, “Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité at Risk for New Religious Movements in France,” BYU Law Review (2000): 1099–1151.
 Example: Kahlile Mehr, “An LDS International Trio, 1974-97,” Journal of Mormon History 25, no. 2 (1999): 102–120.
 For example, in the UK the claim to tax exemption for temples was denied because they do not qualify as places of “public worship.” The appeal went to the House of Lords in 2007 where it was treated in the context of race and religious discrimination laws, and finally to the European Court of Human Rights which rejected the Church’s viewpoint.
 Example: Alan K. Parrish, “Turning the Media Image of the Church in Great Britain, 1922–33,” in Cynthia Doxey, Robert C. Freeman, Richard N. Holzapfel, and Dennis A. Wright (eds.), Regional studies in Latter-day Saint Church history – The British Isles (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 2007): 171–192.
 Examples: Erik J. Freeman, “’True Christianity’: The Flowering and Fading of Mormonism and Romantic Socialism in Nineteenth-Century France,” Journal of Mormon History 44, no. 2 (2018): 75–103; Craig Livingston, From Above and Below: The Mormon Embrace of Revolution, 1840–1940 (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013).
 Example: Walter E. van Beek, “Mormon Europeans or European Mormons? An ‘Afro-European’ View on Religious Colonization,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no. 4 (2005): 3–36. See also D. Michael Quinn, “LDS ‘Headquarters Culture’ and the Rest of Mormonism: Past and Present,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 34, no. 3/4 (2001): 135–164.
 See for more detail Wilfried Decoo, “In Search of Mormon Identity: Mormon Culture, Gospel Culture, and an American Worldwide Church,” International Journal of Mormon Studies 6, no. 1 (2013): 1–53.
 Such as in the case of the retornados from Africa to Portugal: Marl L. Grover, “Migration, Social Change, and Mormonism in Portugal,” Journal of Mormon History 21, no. 1 (1995): 65–79. See also Ryan T. Cragun and Ronald Lawson, “The Secular Transition: The Worldwide Growth of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventists,” Sociology of Religion 71, no. 3 (2010): 349–373.
 Examples: Malcolm Thorp, “The Religious Backgrounds of Mormon Converts in Britain, 1837–52,” Journal of Mormon History 4 (1977): 51–65; Susan Easton Black, “A Profile of a British Saint 1837–1848,” in Donald Q. Cannon (ed.), Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: British Isles (Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1990): 103–114.
 Examples of memoirs from missions in Europe: Craig Harline, Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled But Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014); Roger Terry, Bruder: The Perplexingly Spiritual Life and Not Entirely Unexpected Death of a Mormon Missionary (Salt Lake City, UT: Common Consent Press, 2019).
 Example: Ronald E. Bartholomew, “The Role of Local Missionaries in Nineteenth-century England,” in Reid L. Neilson and Fred E. Woods (eds.), Go Ye into All the World: The Growth and Development of Mormon Missionary Work (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2012): 447–470.
 An analysis of “mission home pages” and individual missionaries’ pages on social media would reveal the main focus of their interests in the country.
 Eija Taskinen researched the Mormon socialization process in “Oulun pyhät: Oulun Myöhempien Aikojen Pyhien Jeesuksen Kristuksen Kirkon piirissä tapahtuvan sosialisaatioprosessin tarkastelua” (Master’s thesis, University of Oulu, 1994). Sophie-Hélène Trigeaud studied “Mormonization” in Devenir mormon: La fabrication communautaire de l’individu (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013).
 Example: Christian Euvrard, Socio-Histoire du Mormonisme en France (PhD diss., École Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 2008).
 Tim Vanhove studied interfaith marriages in couples with one Mormon partner in Belgium. Tim Vanhove, “Religieus gemengde huwelijken bij de Mormonen” (Master’s thesis, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1999).
 Example: Walter E. A. van Beek, “Ethnization and Accommodation: Dutch Mormons in Twenty First-century Europe.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29, no. 1 (1996): 119–138.
 Van Beek, “Mormon Europeans,” 28.
 Example: Hazel O’Brien, “The Marginality of ‘Irish Mormonism’: Confronting Irish Boundaries of Belonging,” Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religion 21 (2020): 52–75.
 Example: Ronan James Head, “The Experience of Mormon Children in English School-Based Religious Education and Collective Worship,” International Journal of Mormon Studies 2 (2009): 197–205.
 Example: Craig Lithgow Marshall, “Mormon Student Religiosity and Higher Education” (PhD diss., University of Nottingham, 1996).
 Armand L. Mauss, “Can There Be a ‘Second Harvest’?: Controlling the Costs of Latter-day Saint Membership in Europe,” International Journal of Mormon Studies 1 (2008): 1–59.
 See G.E. Kawika Allen, Kenneth T. Wang, and Hannah Stokes, “Examining Legalism, Scrupulosity, Family Perfectionism, and Psychological Adjustment among LDS Individuals,” Mental Health, Religion & Culture 18, no. 4 (2015): 246–258.
 See Michael McBride, “Club Mormon: Free-riders, Monitoring, and Exclusion in the LDS Church,” Rationality and Society 19, no. 4 (2007): 395–424.
 Studies on Mormon women in Europe are few. One example: Carine Decoo-Vanwelkenhuysen, “Mormon Women in Europe: A Look at Gender Norms,” in Kate Holbrook and Matthew B. Bowman (eds.), Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 2016): 213–29. Author Ellen Decoo is currently working on a dissertation on gender role perceptions among Momon women in Belgium (University of Ghent).
 One research project could involve tracking European families who were featured in Church magazines in years past: How has their development been?
 See for a literature overview Brandon C.Martinez, “The Integration of Racial and Ethnic Minorities into White Congregations,” Sociological Inquiry 88, no. 3 (2018): 467–493.
 Example: Polly Aird, “Why Did the Scots Convert?” Journal of Mormon History 26, no. 1 (2000): 91–122.
 This topic is discussed in an upcoming dissertation about the church in Poland.
 Example: Bernadette Rigal-Cellard, La religion des mormons (Paris: Albin Michel, 2012); Massimo Introvigne, Les Mormons (Turnhout: Brepols, 1991).
 Example: Michael W. Homer (ed.)., On the Way to Somewhere Else: European Sojourners in the Mormon West, 1834–1930 (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark, 2006).
 Example: Sarah Clement Reed, “Mormonism in Nineteenth-Century German Literature: Nation, Family, and Religion on the Frontiers of America and Europe,” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2018).
 See Daniel H. Olsen and Samuel M. Otterstrom, “Language and the Internationalization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” in Stanley D. Brunn and Roland Kehrein (eds.), Handbook of the Changing World Language Map (New York: Springer, 2020): 2799–2823.
 Example: Tamah Sherman, “Behaving toward Language in the Mormon Mission: The Czech Case,” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 232 (2015): 33–57. See also Lynne Hansen (ed.), Second Language Acquisition Abroad: The LDS Missionary Experience (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012); Christopher Bennett Vasquez-Wright, “Language Learner Identity of Mormon Missionaries: Implications for Second Language Pedagogy and Research,” (PhD diss., University of Arizona, 2018).
 See Jessie L. Embry, “Ethnic groups and the LDS Church,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 25, no. 4 (1992): 81–96.