Significant threats facing Mormonism in 2018 include:
- Increasing secularization in society
- An increased access of information on the LDS church and its history, particularly via the internet
- A loss of liberals within the movement and the growth of conservatism/fundamentalist elements within the Mormon community. This threatens to distance the movement further from mainstream society, hindering its efforts to attract new recruits that can positively contribute to the movement.
Google as a tool
The Mormon church has a long history of being interested in PR and creating a positive public image. This goes back to the work that Smoot did in convincing Hollywood execs to not release movies critical of Mormon in the 1920s. By 2000 however, Google was a more important and influential news and entertainment source than Hollywood.
The Mormon church is active in sponsoring internet sites and advertising with Google and other search engines in order to promote their viewpoints and preferred views of history. Content and comments on pages associated with the Mormon church are highly censored. Members are encouraged to use the internet to “share the gospel”
Members are encouraged to use the Internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. They should view blogs, social networks, and other Internet technologies as tools that allow them to amplify their voice in promoting the messages of peace, hope, and joy that accompany faith in Christ.
In 2014, Elder Bednar encouraged:
…what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.
Google as a threat
The spread of information is seen (rightly) as a threat to the church’s ability to fully control its narrative. Because of this, efforts are made to avoid the spreading of information that might be damaging. All speeches given in General Conference are first reviewed by the Priesthood Correlation committee. Recording or distributing notes from other conferences and speakers is discouraged.
Church members should not record the talks or addresses that General Authorities and Area Seventies give at stake conferences, missionary meetings, or other meetings.
Any notes made when General Authorities, Area Seventies, or other general Church officers speak at stake conferences or other meetings should not be distributed without the consent of the speaker. Personal notes are for individual use only.
Members are encouraged to not use Google when they have questions about the church. This policy was laid out by a member of the 12 apostles, the primary governing body of the church in 2016:
Teach them about the challenges they face when relying upon the Internet to answer questions of eternal significance. Remind them that James did not say, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him Google!”
Wise people do not rely on the Internet to diagnose and treat emotional, mental, and physical health challenges, especially life-threatening challenges. Instead, they seek out health experts, those trained and licensed by recognized medical and state boards. Even then, prudent people seek a second opinion.
If that is the sensible course to take in finding answers for emotional, mental, and physical health issues, it is even more so when eternal life is at stake. When something has the potential to threaten our spiritual life, our most precious family relationships, and our membership in the kingdom, we should find thoughtful and faithful Church leaders to help us.
Church News articles from 2017 also belittle Google and the information which it can provide:
(Doctrinal Mastery – the new Seminary Teaching program) is good because we are getting help from somebody who … is a true source, not from Google or something.
A recent video promoting some new church publications proclaimed:
…When I’m hanging out with friends and things are being thrown at us. “Just Google it”… But sometimes you can’t just Google something. Church History (the book) can help us, not only understand the church, and how it came to be, and what a blessing it is, but it can help us understand ourselves and understand what our purpose is in life.
In spite the teachings that Google is not accurate and should not be used, the church invests heavily in advertising with Google. Most Google searches related to Mormonism result in adds from the Mormon Church. A typical search on the term “Joseph Smith” or “Mormon” in 2017 will result in 7 or more of the top 10 hits leading to church sponsored or owned web sites. Factual and historical information is available from Wikipedia, which often ranks high, but other accurate or critical sites generally do not make the top 20 results. The pervasiveness of advertising is demonstrated by the fact that there are even Mormon ads on the ex-mormon site on Reddit which is highly critical of the church. Figures regarding spending on these campaigns are not publically available. It is estimated however that the Mormon Church spends more than 3.6 Million USD/year in direct advertising with Google alone.
Between 2011 and 2017, Mormonthink.com was the only known religious site which is blocked from the pseudo-public WIFI available in all LDS buildings. According to some reports, CESLetter.org and Reddit (including reddit.com/r/exmormon) are also blocked in some buildings starting around 2015. Around June 2017, it appears that the site www.reddit.com has been blocked from all LDS buildings.
Secularism is increasing in the US and the west resulting in virtually all religions losing millennials in large numbers. The LDS church is no exception and is working hard to maintain this demographic. The number of people growing up as Mormon who no longer claim the church as adults has gone from about 10-20% in the 1980s to about 36% as of 2014. While this number is lower than most other religions, the general trend in Mormonism is still towards secularism.
Lower birth rates
Lower birth rates in the US have caused the rate of growth in the church to fall substantially. However, Mormons still have the largest number of children of any major American faith at an average of 3.4 children. Leaders continue to emphasize early marriage, women staying at home rather than entering the workplace, and large family sizes. This emphasis may have increased after birth rate trends became clear around 2010.
 The studios agreed to not release the film in return for Reed Smoot supporting legislation which would help the film industry.
 This includes sites which are funded through donations provided by the LDS church, but are not officially sanctioned by the church, including those run by the “More Good Foundation”. Rule #1 on one site is, “Do not post, upload, or otherwise submit anything to the site that is derogatory towards The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its teachings, or its leaders. Anti-LDS Propaganda will not be tolerated anywhere.” Source: https://mormonhub.com/forums/announcement/1-mormon-hub-rules-please-be-familiar-with-these-rules-before-posting/ Deseret News vets all comments prior to posting and only posts comments which agree with current church positions.
 Ads were run for a short period in Feb 2017. Later, these ads were removed.
 The password, ”Pioneer47” is used in all buildings and is widely available online.