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Survey: U.S. Mormons feel discrimination, hope
The Mormon temple at church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.
January 12th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Survey: U.S. Mormons feel discrimination, hope

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Nearly half of American Mormons say they face a lot of discrimination in the United States, though most also say that acceptance of their religion is on the rise, according to a major survey released Thursday.

The survey also found that a large majority of American Mormons think their countrymen are uninformed about their religion and don’t see Mormons as part of mainstream society, even as most Mormons also say the country is ready for a Mormon president.

“The survey creates a mixed picture for how Mormons see themselves,” said Greg Smith, senior researcher with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which conducted the study. “On the one hand, many tell us they’re misunderstood and often discriminated against, recognizing the challenges of acceptance.

“But Mormons also seem to think that things are changing, that more Americans are coming to see Mormonism as mainstream,” he said.

The survey comes amid what has been called a “Mormon moment.”

Two of the Republican presidential candidates – Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman – attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The religion has also cropped up in big ways in popular culture, from the hit Broadway play “Book of Mormon” to the recent HBO series “Big Love,” about a fundamentalist Mormon family.

Mormons constitute about 2% of the American population.

The Pew survey found that 46% of American Mormons say they face a lot of discrimination in the U.S. today, while six in 10 say their fellow Americans as a whole are uninformed about the LDS Church.

Two-thirds of Mormons say their fellow citizens do not view Mormonism as part of mainstream American society.

At the same time, 63% of Mormons say Americans are “becoming more likely to see Mormonism as part of mainstream society,” in the words of the survey report, while 56% say the country is ready for a Mormon president.

There are some surprising parallels between how Mormons feel about their place in American society and how Muslims do, according to an earlier Pew survey.

"We do see a remarkable degree of similarity about what it's like to be a minority in society," Smith said. "They are under no illusions" about how the broader public currently feels about them, and know their religions are not widely understood, but they remain optimistic at heart, he said.

They recognize the challenges, "but both groups are relentlessly positive about their future in the United States," said Luis Lugo, the director of the Pew Forum.

As Romney’s and Huntsman’s ability to win evangelical votes in the approaching South Carolina presidential primary has become a major question in the presidential campaign, the Pew survey finds that half of Mormons believe that evangelical Christians are unfriendly toward them.

In fact, Mormon and evangelical political opinions match closely on almost everything except immigration, the survey found. (Mormons are much more likely than evangelicals or the U.S. population overall to see immigrants as making a positive contribution to society, said David Campbell of the University of Notre Dame, who helped advise the Pew Forum on the survey.)

Mormons also subscribe to key tenets of mainstream Christianity, despite the sense many evangelicals have that Mormons are not Christians. Previous Pew surveys show that about half of white evangelicals say Mormonism is not a Christian faith.

"Nearly all Mormons say they believe Jesus rose from the dead and that Mormonism is a Christian religion," Smith said.

But the Mormon-evangelical divide is not simply one of theology, a leading evangelical said.

"Evangelicals are - famously or infamously, depending on your perspective - very evangelistic," said Richard Land  of the Southern Baptist Convention. "And so Mormons are out there going door-to-door trying to convince folks  to become Mormons, and evangelicals are out there going door-to-door trying to convince people to become evangelicals."

By comparison, most Mormons said that Americans who are not religious are either neutral or friendly toward them.

Mormons and evangelicals are politically similar, the survey found, with three-quarters of Mormons saying they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.

And the survey showed that Mormons are more devout in their faith than evangelicals, who are more devout that the public at large.

Three-quarters of Mormons report attending religious services at least weekly, while eight in 10 pray daily and give 10% of their income to their church.

The Pew Forum says the nationwide survey, conducted in October and November, constitutes the biggest survey of American Mormons conducted by an organization that’s not connected to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Pew surveyed 1,019 self-identified Mormons for the project.

CNN's Richard Allen Greene and Emma Lacey-Bordeaux contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Mormonism • Politics • Polls

soundoff (1,639 Responses)
  1. Shemmery

    I have had very poor experiences with Mormons and most ex-Mormons. I found one friend I had to be very disloyal, sticking up for someone who treated me poorly moreso just because she used to share the same religion as him. I was also advised by someone to see a counselor who was ex Mormon and was not informed by her or the counselor were Mormon and that his counseling methods were radical Mormon tactics. All of these people were byast towards who I was and I gave them the benefit of the doubt every time and they came up short. I advise Mormons to start thinking outside the box and not seeing their religion and narrow way of thinking as superior to everyone else.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Playin with my weezer

      Mormons are Morons.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  2. Sanity

    Meanwhile, since 1950, the Dems have elected 3 Southern Baptists, one Disciple of Christ, and one United Church of Christ members as president (all evangelical Christian churches), while the Republicans have elected no evangelical Christians. The Dem are the party to fear.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  3. Red Dawg

    Mormons feel bigotry because they are bigots. They feel hope because they maintain their delusion.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Brook Shields panty liner

      Yeah...kinda like the nig gers.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  4. anonymous

    I have known some very nice Mormons, but their theology is totally cult-like and I have no use for cults, even if they call themselves "Christian."

    January 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • stdt

      Thats why we respect people, but scrutinize beliefs.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jlutz

      If you mean by cult that we follow a prophet blindly that is not the case. We are encouraged to seek God's affirmation on what the prophet says. Not to follow blindly. Even the standard revelations of the church teach this. I think you are way uninformed. I have been a member for along time. It is interesting that the term cult is thrown around so loosely. According to most peoples definition a cult is someone who follows a man blindly and believes they speak for God. If you use this definition then the early christian church was a cult as well as all those in the Old Testament who followed a prophet. You could also include Catholics in that definition.

      If by cult you mean ritualistic I am not sure that you have ever been to a Mormon meeting. It is far less ritualistic than most other churches I have attended.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  5. Stevie Wonder

    I want to be a mormon so I can have a bunch of white bytches.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  6. dave

    Just was at Nauvoo. Loved the place! We were there for 4 days. Never crossed my mind to patronize only LDS owned businesses (are there any other than the places selling LDS themed items?) Nauvoo is a wonderful midwest town with great people of all faiths. Even the breakaway church (Community of Christ) people were fantastic and kind. Lets try finding common beliefs, values and building upon those!

    January 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Basturd out of Carolina

      Mormons are all doo doo eaters.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  7. rob

    The Mormon cult is a repulsive, immoral, disgusting, bigoted organization that spreads hate against others. And Mormon beliefs are laughable. And if they can spend tens of millions of dollars on hate campaigns, why can't they pay taxes? Why are taxpayers subsidizing governments services to this pathetic, faux "religion?" The sooner this cult is brought down, the better off the country will be.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  8. Kahuna

    I live in a community that is 45% mormon. They are like any other religion in that they have both good folks and slobs. I will say their belief that everthing that comes out of Glen Beck's mouth is the truth is laughable. If you tell them Obama started WWII they would believe it. If you argue that Republican policies of the last 15 years caused the financial crisis, they will argue that Obama caused it all.

    Their politicians at the state level are right wing zealots that would love nothing more than to have the mormon church take over the role of government.

    Go check the track record of Russell Pearce for an example.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  9. jason

    Hillarious article! It is Mormons that discriminate against nonmormons. Don't take my word try running a business in a mormon district. You would be lucky to make it to the first anniversary unless its an essential monopoly. You would be good till the church realizes that you are a non mormon(takes about 3 weeks). You donot see that in a black neighborhood or even a jewish one. I agree with the previous poster that Mormon is a cult

    January 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  10. J. Crobuzon

    One of my friends was from a Mormon family; his folks were good people. He fell out with them over the door-to-door thing as a teen, saying he didn't believe it himself and couldn't shove it at others. They were disappointed his whole life over him not riding around on a bike knocking on doors and it came up over and over. Like I said, good people, but I don't want them in charge.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Ichiban

      With each Mormon family raising five kids as psrt of their obligatory religious duties, the bike manufacturers better stay ahead of them. They begat and begat and begat, and continue their begetting....

      January 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  11. abinadi

    @Doc. I said that to a member just a month ago. He came to me the other day and said that he had counted his money at the beginning of the month and his bills and there was no way he could pay ti thing. He paid it anyway and, miraculously, his bills all got paid! I have heard that many times from different people. I have a strong testimony of it myself. I am just an ordinary working man and have never made a lot of money, usually working 2 jobs at once. I was once deeply in debt. About 20 years ago the prophet asked us all to get out of debt. I went to the Lord in prayer and told him I couldn't see how that was possible. I reminded him that I had always paid my ti thing and pleaded for his help. I immediately felt inspired to cut up my credit cards. That took a lot of faith because we had never before been able to get through a month without our credit cards! The next 5 years were miraculous! We paid off the credit cards, then the house, and finally our cars! I can assure you that it was the hand of God! "10 Bring ye all the ti thes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Malachi 3.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • abinadi

      Today, we are totally debt free, I've got money in the bank and assets. The prophets words proved prophetic because in the last few years, I have witnessed people losing their jobs and houses all around me, but I and all my sons and daughters have had jobs and have been totally insulated from the failed economy. The Lord knew all of this was going to happen and warned us through his prophet 20 years ago!

      January 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Perry

      I really feel sorry that you've fallen for such rubbish, but I certainly don't feel bad for warning all the ignorant commentators on here to first do their research before considering your organization. Being manipulated by these people has now become your problem and probably cannot be fixed. Your "testimony" may be taken seriously by some gullible folks, so I'm hoping they take my advice before joining and giving away their hard earned money.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      You stopped depending on credit cards. That is not a miracle, its good sense. Of course, after reading your posts it does seem like a bit of a miracle that you used good sense. Even you sound quite surprised yourself.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Kahuna

      SWo you learned how to manage your finances and not live on credit cards and ou credit the prophet for that?

      How 'bout giving credit to the finance 101 course at any community college. You would have gotten the same advise.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Get Real

      abinadi,

      I have always lived within my means...or below, so as to accu.mulate savings. I am debt free. I have money in the bank and assets. My children are all college graduates and are employed (the 2 younger ones less than optimally due to the job market right now, however). No god or prophet necessary.

      p.s. I even have credit cards... I just use them responsibly.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  12. MacFarren

    The vast majority of the Pew survey had nothing to do with Mormons feeling discriminated against. Clearly CNN has slanted this for their own reasons. Look elsewhere for your news to get the whole story.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  13. White

    These commments are sad to read. Every non-mormon thinks they know everything about the LDS religion because they've heard this and that from a friend or ex-communicated member, and they've read books on the religion (written by equallt unimformed people who are discriminating and hateful). NEVER in my life have i defamed another religion and neither has anyone in any meeting i have attended in my life. Don't ridicule what you don't know people. If you're so anxious to find fault go to a meeting or something.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • test

      Salvation does not require Joseph Smiths Golden Tablets.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Perry

      Typical mormon defense with all the trimmings: claiming ignorance and the spreading of lies by the "excommunicated." The more a mormon defends their comfortable bubble, the more they come across as a cult. If you have a problem with anything said in the comments, retort with reasons why the said comments are false. Okay?

      January 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Kinetic

      I know what I'm talking about. As a child I was involuntarily baptized by the Mormon church and forced to go to their classes.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • jason

      nice rant now please explain mormons boycotting non-mormon businesses

      January 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      I know a lot of Mormons, and they are generally nice people. I know enough about history to know they joined the US pretty much at gunpoint, and that they used to attack wagon trains like Indians and carry the women and children off into slavery, and that Salt Lake City has more gay people than any other city. I don't think they are going to hell any more than any other brand of Christian, but I don't want one of them as president. I'm no bigot, but I have a right to my opinion about who can best represent my views and stand up for my values, same as you.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  14. Ricky Bobby

    I can't wait for the US Navy to start receiving their first wooden submarines!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  15. Dave

    Mormons think they are discriminated against? What a joke! Look at all the comments below and you'll see they are full of it.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  16. ha

    To all of those attacking the LDS Church, might I ask if you have a perfect church of your own?

    January 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Perry

      This isn't about whether or not others belong to a perfect church. It's everything to do with the imperfect, fairytale hoax known as the LDS.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • GEZUS

      I am an atheist and I must say that every Mormon I have met is really nice and could not be a better friend (unless you ask them to do something on Sunday- day off). Their kids are polite and smart. Most of them are incredible attractive (must be the lack of smoking, drinking,and no caffeine, healthy food, and exercise). So if a smart business man like Romney or Huntsman wants to run our country, it may be for the better. (have you seen Huntsman's brunette daughter!).

      January 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  17. LMB123

    Give an opportunity for Mormon comment and all the the scoffing idiots come out to play. Go back where you came from – you "legions" of the devil !

    January 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  18. Non-Mormon from Nauvoo

    I grew up in Nauvoo, IL, the apparent "Bethlehem" of Mormons. When I was a child, few Mormons were there. Then, in adulthood, when they built the temple there and it was a huge tourist attraction, they would only tell visitors of Mormon businesses - even told some people getting married there that there were no flower shops in town, when in fact there were, just not Mormon owned. Will this be the way of his administration? A repeat of the Halliburton era? Mormons suppport Mormons, and no one else. That is the one thing I learned about people I otherwise thought were very kind and respectful of others.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • jason

      Thst is what I faced when running a subway in a mormon district. but they are better than mafia in the point that they do send missionaries as patrons for you to convert else face the discrimination.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  19. JOHN

    Based on their beliefs,.. I think they are a cult!

    January 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • DMo

      The only difference between a cult and a religion is how many people are comfortable with it. I don't see the difference between what Mormons believe and what mainstream Christians believe. Both seem highly improbable to me.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  20. PizzaWolf

    our loving beliefs have such violent reactions...its no small wonder that wars were had over differing beleifs...all of us here...christian, athiest, pagan. exibit some form of vehemence against another of a differing opinion. we really havent changed much over the thousands of years. we're still electronically stifling contradicting opinions...i'm afraid its a human quality to be so single minded and violently opposed to something...and before you go and say it...
    i guess i'm guilty of it too.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Perry

      I don't see any violent reactions here. lol. Only mockery. Well deserved mockery, that's all.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • PizzaWolf

      i guess you're right but its the same kind of thinking i was describing...mocking others for having a different opinion...seems like what we're doing here

      January 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • PizzaWolf

      Ah well...what do i know.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • JonnyUtah

      Just a few of your loving beliefs:
      1. Mormon Oath regarding temple ceremony:
      "We and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any secrets of this... Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by their roots."

      2. Without being celestially married to a holder of the priesthood, a woman cannot be "saved"

      3. Alma 3: 6 "And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men."

      January 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • jason

      so by the same token an african american compalining about discrimination would be violent reaction. mormons are mockery to all humanity and people who believe in equality

      January 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Perry

      You're a good person, PizzaWolf, and probably right. The problem here is that mockery may be the only way to go about actually saving people from this organization. I've lost a friend after they joined the LDS for reasons I care not to disclose. In my teens I was friends with a young lady whose family disowned after choosing to leave the church. Mormons are good people who are brainwashed into doing awful, awful things. It's a trap and people should be aware of it.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      Who's stifling anyone? I'm not saying Mitt is demonic and unChristian, although he may well be. I never met the guy, for all I know he has little green lights burning in his eyes or something. I just don't want his flip-flopping butt anywhere near the White House, and a lot of people agree.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.