Ronald Lawson Presents: Comparing the Geographic Distributions, Growth, and Statistical Reliability of Mormons, Adventists, and Witnesses

In October and November 2019 Dr. Lawson made five presentations to the Roy Branson Legacy Sabbath School (RBLSS) class at Loma Linda University.

Additional presentations include:

Adventism and Social Issues

Adventism and Governments: A Preference for Dictators?

Adventism in Animist Societies

Comparing the Geographic Distributions, Growth, and Statistical Reliability of Mormons, Adventists, and Witnesses

His sociological study of global Adventism, including its statistical growth over time, where its membership was concentrated and where not, and the reliability of its official statistics, led Ronald Lawson to want to compare these with those of the other two American-founded religious groups that were also formed in the nineteenth century. He was fascinated to discover that the patterns of all three groups were very different from one another. These differences have helped to shape important social and cultural differences between the three groups. Prepare to be surprised by his account.

This presentation by Dr. Ronald Lawson to the Roy Branson Legacy Sabbath School class at Loma Linda University was recorded on October 12, 2019.

WATCH “Adventism in Animist Societies” with Ronald Lawson:

This presentation is also available to watch on Dr. Lawson’s website here.

Author Bio:

Ronald Lawson was born and educated in Australia. He earned a BA with Honours in History and a Ph.D. in both Sociology and History from the University of Queensland in 1970. In 1971 he traveled to Columbia University in New York City on a Fulbright Travel Grant for postdoctoral studies in the Sociology Department and the Bureau of Applied Social Research. He taught at the City University of New York from 1971 through 2009, with six years at Hunter College and thirty-three years at Queens College. He became a tenured Full Professor in 1983. His books include Brisbane in the 1890s: An Australian Urban Society (University of Queensland Press, 1973) and The Tenant Movement in New York, 1904–1984 (Rutgers University Press, 1986). Since 1984 his research has focused on globalizing American-born religious groups, especially Seventh-day Adventism, and he is currently preparing a series of four book manuscripts based on research in sixty countries of the World Church. He has published a slew of articles on protest movements, tenant-landlord conflict, Adventists, and American-born religious groups in academic journals and edited books. He has made those related to Adventism available on his website ( As of the end of January 2020 there are 77 papers there, and a new one is added each week.

Ron Lawson was one of the founders of QUSDAS (the Queensland University Seventh-day Adventist Society) in 1962 and its president from 1963-65. He was an active member of the Metro New York Adventist Forum, a chapter that met every week, from 1971-2015, and its president for 41 years. He formed the Asheville Adventist Forum in 2016, and continues to organize its meetings. Along the way he was instrumental in forming several other Forum chapters, including those in Sydney, San Diego, Toronto, and Orlando. He now lives in Loma Linda, California, where he is working towards completing his planned books on global Adventism.

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Fascinating info particularly in regards to SDA education rates among Developing Worlds. It was fairly shocking to me to see that the literacy rates among the members of the LDS and Witnesses were higher than the Adventists! Also, it was highly interesting that about half of the students attending SDA educational institutions are not Adventist.

Again, it begs to question…how anyone with very little (or no education) could become an Adventist. I could see that someone with none to little education could understand the Gospel message if explained…but what about the finer points of Adventist belief and EGW??

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From what I understand, the emphasis abroad is generally a very basic Christian message as opposed to the complexity we have in the US.

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I think that it would have to be that way. Of course, I am of the opinion that this is all that is needed.

The presentation on Adventists and Animism that was put up here a week earlier than this one, and which is still list at this point there, deals with the point you are addressing.

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There was, at least to my perception, a huge push to have numbers of believers increase from the mid 70’s and beyond.

I remember being asked as a 12 year old Pathfinder and also recently baptized to be part of a parade of new converts in 1975 at the Central Cal campmeeting main auditorium. This struck me as odd to be viewed as a new convert as I had grown up in the SDA church. I now found myself being congratulated for becoming part of the church as if I had never been in the past…

I also had an Indian co-working in Tokyo who mentioned that he and his brothers/sister were educated at Adventists schools in his home town. He said they were baptized even though they were Hindu and had now real desire to be Christians, it was just that they were asked to do so.

Is our leadership so corrupt and self-serving that they would do this on a world wide scale!? Evidently so…


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