The number of independent organizations and periodicals dealing with the LDS Church has mushroomed over the past 25 years, according to a compilation in the December issue of Sunstone magazine.

Bryan Waterman, a Sunstone associate editor, spent one year cataloging groups, publications and electronic forums that deal with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in one way or another. The list includes official church publications but is comprised mostly of independent groups, including antagonists whose goal is to draw church members away from the faith."What we are seeing by this explosion of groups is evidence that Mormonism is becoming less monolithic, if it ever was, and a more diverse, pluralistic culture," Waterman said. "It indicates that Mormonism is a healthy, vibrant, activist, thinking religion."

Almost 150 of the 171 periodicals and organizations have been organized since 1970.

For Sunstone, the list gives an accounting of the magazine's peers. And the magazine is also part of the list. The Sunstone entry reads: "Founded in 1974 as a non-profit corporation, the Sunstone Foundation publishes Sunstone magazine and sponsors symposiums across the United States to further independent discussion of Mormon experience, scholarship, issues and art."

Waterman also gives subscription information for publications and electronic addresses for computer bulletin boards and Internet forums.

Waterman said the category with the most groups is Mormon history, which includes some of the oldest independent Mormon organizations, such as the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers; and the newest group he found, Danska (Denmark) Mormon Historie.

Rapidly expanding categories are Mormon humanitarian and homosexual groups and computer networks, Waterman said.

Computer bulletin boards did not exist 25 years ago and were in their infancy 10 years ago. Now, Waterman lists 27 computer billboards that address Mormon topics.

LDS Church spokesman Don LeFevre said the growth is not surprising given the church's growth during the same period. Church membership was about 3 million in 1970 and now stands at about 9 million.

Independent publications about the church "represent the personal opinions and expressions of the publishers, editors and writers," LeFevre said. "In fairness to both those publications and to the church, they should not be mistaken as representing official positions of the church."

The church's official publications have grown as well - mostly overseas. LeFevre said the church had four official English-language publications and 16 international language magazines in 1971. "Today, there are magazines in 23 languages with several more in the planning stages."