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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. JMM

    Where are the windows on that church? Sort of odd that people cannot look out the window, or have natural light come into their place of worship. Oh wait, its because they don't want outsiders looking in.

    If we really knew what took place behind closed doors, I think real discrimination would set in!

    I think everyone should go see Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "Book of Mormon"
    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/south-parks-trey-parker-promises-special-grammy-party-if-they-win-20111201

    January 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Karen

      JMM I think you need to do your homework. I've seen many churches that belong to "Mormons?" as you refer to them. Truly the it is "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints", I believe you are talking about the Jehova Witnesses. Please don't speak about any religion or group without knowing the facts you sound so uneducated. There are many LDS church buildings that have many windows and doors. Go on in, I am sure as in any church, you are more than welcome.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  2. JSucese

    Why do media types feel the need to question one's beliefs over another? No person is questioning Ron Paul's religion or Newt's or any of the other candidates except Huntsman and Romney. It's truly biased and I am really getting tired of hearing from the Christian Evangelical groups that are the MOST bigoted people I have EVER heard from. They are so hateful towards other religions that it disgusts me every time Mormons or Islamic religion is brought to the forefront. They are hypocritical and Jesus himself would be ashamed of their behaviors. Let's look at the issues not their religion and media types move on to something with more substance.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  3. Purple Pimpernel

    Mormons complain that they are discriminated against because of their religion. Yet, the Mormon Church leaders have long said (and have never recanted) that slavery and segregation of black people is ordained of God, and a curse due to their wickedness. Romney said he saw his father march with Martin Luther King, Jr., but then he backtracked and had to re-define what the meaning of “saw” is. It’s like questioning what the meaning of “is” is. Romney’s father was a devoted Mormon and upheld the Mormon racism. For more information about racism in the Mormon cult, see http://mittromneycult.blogspot.com/2011/12/todays-vocabulary-word-cult.html

    For an excellent discussion of Mormon policy on blackness, see this article written by Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., PhD:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/obery-m-hendricks-jr-phd/mitt-romney-curse-blackness_b_1200470.html

    Maybe the discrimination that the Mormons feel is a curse from God due to their racism.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  4. Voice of Reason

    Why is it always OK to get down on Mormons? If I went to a post about the Jews and made trashy ignorant comments about having big noses, or a post about Catholics, and made rude and disgusting comments about priests and little boys, everyone would immediately recognize it as ignorant and spiteful trolling. But here – people (probably otherwise tolerant and informed people, i'm sure) just jump on the bandwagon and pile it on.

    C'mon people, take a step back, and think about what you are saying.

    What you post about someone else's beliefs says more about YOUR beliefs than it does about THEIRS..

    January 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • JMM

      If the the statement is true, then no reason to "take a step back". All religion should be a private facet of one's life. However, evangelicals and Mormons think it is alright to push their values on my family. yeah right. Keep your value system to yourself and i will do so with my comments. Pulllease!

      January 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • bbb123

      Its ok to go down on everybody

      January 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      How exactly are they pushing their values onto your family? Mormons dont force anyone to live their principles, not even their own members (how many times i wish people would come back to church, but i cant and wouldnt MAKE them do anything). WRT my comment about your comments reflecting more on you than on the Mormons – thank you for stepping forward and proving my point.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      "If I went to a post about the Jews and made trashy ignorant comments" If Joe Lieberman was running, you'd think this was Berlin in the late Thirties.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  5. ElCapitan63

    Double whammy bigotry! I am Hispanic, and I am a Mormon 😦

    January 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Mary

      That's too bad. We'll pray for you.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  6. Dave

    The only thing worse than Mormons are Muslims and Jews! Sorry, that was wrong of me to say...let's just stick to the Mormons.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • JSucese

      Ouch...that hurt my magic underwear....

      January 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Karen

      Dave, I won't judge you, but according to the dictionary you are definitely a bigot. I dont know if you are a christian, but if you, are you should repent. Comments like these are hurtful and ugly, and if you think that the gates of heaven are going to be open to you, you are going to be very mistaken and very surprised. "Mormon's" as CNN calls this religion is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", have you ever heard of "HIM" ... that's right Jesus our brother, our God. This church believes in God the eternal Father, and his son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. As for Muslems, there are a lot of very good muslems, and their are extremusts, there are good Baptists, Penecosts, Catholics, etc, and there are bad members, unfortunately, we generalize and group them together. I've yet to find only one perfect man that walked this earth, but there are many evil ones. I'm striving to be like Jesus, are you?

      January 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      "Sorry, that was wrong of me to say" Click report abuse instead of rewarding this dumb troll with an answer. Do you argue with every dog you meet?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  7. Joe

    I really don't feel sorry for Mormons who feel discriminated against. They bankrolled California's Proposition H8, which was extremely discriminatory against others. It wasn't until recently that they let blacks into the church. Now they are claiming to be victims? Cry me a river.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • YBP

      Yeah, and then dump religion in that river and watch it float away.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  8. Jeff

    Funny how one of the most bigoted organizations on the planet is finally feeling what it dishes out. Lest we forget how horribly bigoted and anti-gay the Mormon church is.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • YBP

      Do they think we've forgotten about Prop 8? Separation of church and state!

      January 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  9. YBP

    Is it really considered bigotry to ridicule the ridulous? I simply call it "ridicule." Education is the remedy to the plague called religion.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  10. JMM

    I heard this morning that in a recent survey, Mormons say they feel more discriminated against than Blacks in this country. First off, that is the best joke i have heard in Months. How pathetic to align their plight with that of Blacks. That just goes to show how much pity they feel for themselves. This religion is criticized because of its very weird operations and very secretive society. They are not like the rest of Americans because of the way they live and the beliefs they push on others. If Mitt was not Mormon, he would have a real chance to win the WH, but since he is not, looks like 4 more years of Obama.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  11. dave

    Hey Rob "The Mormon cult is a repulsive, immoral, disgusting, bigoted organization that spreads hate against others."
    Can I send you a copy of the last General Conference. Top leadership giving sermons for 2 full days (15 total hours). Please point out the repulsive, immoral, disgusting and bigoted and hate-filled comments!
    http://lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng

    January 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • YBP

      How about Prop 8, Dave?

      January 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  12. James

    Mormons face discrimination? Try going to Utah and see who discriminates against who.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Agnostic about being Agnostic

      Some of my relatives are non-Christian non-Mormons who absolutely love living in Salt Lake City, and have zero complaints about discrimination and Mormonism.

      I've seen comments about Mormons discriminating, and interesting that so much of that opinion is out there, but the only first hand account I have says that SLC and urban and ski areas of Utah are very non-discriminatory to non-Mormons.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  13. DeeNYC

    Only Buddha can save you all.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Hastur the Unspeakable

      Worship Cthulhu and He will eat you first! That way you won't have to live in a wrecked, flaming world dominated by shoggoths and Elder Gods.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  14. bbb123

    All religions are cults

    January 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      "Cult" has a specific meaning today, and it usually means a small group.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  15. James

    Mormons are not Christians and Joseph Smith is a false prophet.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Void

      All prophits are false profits.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • YBP

      Really. As if there are any genuine prophets.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  16. Sanity

    Harry Reid is a Mormon. Strange the press never mentions this, isn't it?

    January 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • DeeNYC

      How bad can mormons be? Donnie and Marie osmond are mormons.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • RKENEIPP

      yes it does..many times....

      January 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • ColoradoMatt

      That's because he doesn't talk about it or make an issue of it. He is what he is.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  17. Doc M

    All are equally messed us, so let's just keep religion out of politics, can we please? I don't care what imaginary fairy you worship, I only care that you don't bring your beliefs into decisions and laws that impact the rest of us.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Doc M

      Sorry, meant to write "messed up".

      January 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  18. beck.66

    Try having your daughter "abducted" by the Mormon church. They planned it so that she was baptized one week after her 18th birthday. Then paid her way to BYU in Idaho. Thankfully, it took her 4 weeks to realize they were just trying to marry her off to one of their hand picked boys. Thank God we got her back from them. It was quite an ordeal. I loved the part where they say, "we aren't the Mormons who have more than one wife." I was like, "no, but the founders of your goofy religion certainly thought it was important."

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

      Good for your daughter else she would have ended up a brainwashed zombie rearing 20 kids for the mormon church

      January 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Kurt Kammeyer

      Beck, I believe you've read "Riders of the Purple Sage" one too many times. If someone paid my way to Brigham Young University of Idaho, I would consider it an honor – it's not easy to get into, believe me. And once more for the record, anyone who condones or practices polygamy in the LDS Church is excommunicated. That has been official Church policy since 1890, despite what those (F)LDS and other so-called splinter groups may claim.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Lee

      Sorry Beck, but this could not be true because the LDS church does not pay for anyone (even your cute daughter) to go to our church schools, as you described. You will deny what I say here is true, but I know you are not saying the truth about what happened to your daughter...too bad. Beck, I wonder if you a minister of another church–these characters usually are the people who propagate such stories–you see, they do not want to lose their income, their money...so they make up things that simply could not be true.)

      January 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • JSucese

      50 bucks on the fact that there is more to the story than what you've written here. No where in our teachings is there a clause that allows us to kidnap or harass people to join. I'm certain that the whole truth and nothing but the truth is not being printed here.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Arlin

      Nonsense and you know it. How dare you make up such stories. Yes I am a Mormon for 76 years and have never seen or heard of anything like what you describe. BTW BYU is a fine university and just being a member does not pay your tuition, you pay like anyone else and there are many Non Mormons there.

      Some think Mormons have not been dicriminated against. Believeon, but I would hope you would read the history of how the Mormons survived and came to the Salt Lake Valley. You would find the the Governor of Missouri signed an EXTERMINATION orer for all Mormons in 1838. This resulted in the Murder of the Church Leader. The order was not recinded until 1976.

      Personaly I don't feel any discrimination and I have lived in many parts of the USA and the world.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      "That has been official Church policy since 1890" when the USA made them join up or be conquered and assimilated. They did a great job of coming around to civilized norms and today they are pretty much just another church. I know plenty of churches who are all about not allowing outmarriage, even if it means cousins marrying.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  19. billgme

    All Religions should be treated with respect and dignity.

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

      Only if they act with respect and dignity. So far that seems in short supply.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Agnostic about being Agnostic

      Why? I'm not really trying to start an argument, but I'm interested in a real answer, besides just "It's Obvious!"

      January 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • stdt

      I said it before... People deserve respect. Religion, is an idea. Evolution is a more accepted idea (theory). These things deserve scrutiny. The statement "respect a religion" really doesn't make sense.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Doc M

      Not when the try to impose their "morals" on others by forcing their beliefs down our throats and turning them into laws. Keep the government out of personal decisions (medical or otherwise) and I'll respect your right to worship wherever the heck you want to.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Pat

      Religious beliefs, as with all other beliefs, should be critically evaluated and treated accordingly.

      Just because the beliefs come from an old book doesn't make them exempt.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • DPLJLB

      Then all religions should treat others with dignity and respect – which we know they do not.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  20. Religizz

    "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."

    Just leave us alone.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Agnostic about being Agnostic

      Thanks for going post-to-post trying to convince people not to try to convince people.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • test

      Salvation on Earth does not require Joseph Smiths Golden Tablets.

      Wake Up

      January 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • jason

      As much as I hate it but mormons have the right to proselytize. Its the discrimination against non-mormons that I am against

      January 12, 2012 at 2:31 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.