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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. curious

    If Romney is elected, America will become a Mormon nation.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • dinabq

      Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow America may be like Utah? No happy hour.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Andrew

      Yeah, just like it became a Catholic nation under Kennedy and a Godless nation under Obama!

      January 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • abinadi

      Mormonism is the American religion. All the rest were started somewhere elsle. Isn't it appropriate that America should have a religion?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      The LDS cult is not uniquely American. They are not the only religion with American origins, you're forgetting Jehovah's Witnesses and Scientologists for starters.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  2. leo

    HA! there the irony, Mormon's feel bigotry? What do you say to a bigot who complains about bigotry? I say suck it up mother F'ers! Next time try to play nice with the gays and not work so hard to block equal rights for them. Don't you know? Gays rule the world!!

    January 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • honk

      that was a pretty gay comment

      January 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  3. Mike

    For those of you who aren't sure what Mormon's belive etc. Check out this link for SouthPark's very informative explanation.
    http://www. southparkstudios. com/full-episodes/s07e12-all-about-mormons take out the spaces and paste in to your browser.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • abinadi

      Or, go to mormon.org.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  4. James

    Heres something that Christians don't believe that Mormons do:

    God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).

    January 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Erik

      They also believe that native American Indians are actually Jews, that Lucifer and Jesus were brothers, that you can baptise dead relatives, and the God lives on the planet Kolob. It's scientology with a little Jesus thrown in for good measure.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  5. Jim Colyer

    All religion is crap.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • The McNew

      I can say amen to that!

      January 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • foxfire

      Mr. Colyer, I wouldn't call it crap...the people have misused it. People have taken the Bible literally which it was never meant to be. All this in the name of trying to fill the pews. More wars and lives lost over this one thing..religion. Also some how people have been able to blame all bad things happening as what God has willed. Yet they turn around and say God is a loving one.
      Does that make sense.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Perhaps people seeking power have used religion to gain support for their causes, and to mislead the masses. When one condemns religion, it is like condemning academic scholarship or cultural tradition. Religious thinking is primarily a history of responses to the enigma of existence and to our rightful place in society. A mix of bright and malicious people have taken part in the evolution of coherent bodies of thought, belief and practice in response to existential issues, including "Why do innocents suffer?" To form one's own responses to life's mysteries without reference to what the best minds in history have proposed may be naive or inefficient, like musicians and artists who have no academic background and just toss paint of canvas or beat drums as moved by their passions.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  6. James

    Here's a question I have: Why do Mormons try to convert people by tricking them? They tell people that they are Christians and they believe the same things as other Christians but as soon as they convert them and feel they can handle it they begin to reveal their true doctrine and the differences in the beliefs of Mormons verse the beliefs of Christians.

    Why not just be up front from the beginning?

    January 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Sanity

      Wow! Harry Reid did that to you?

      January 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • leo

      HA! there the irony, Mormon's feel bigotry? What do you say to a bigot who complains about bigotry? I say suck it up mother F'ers! Next time try to play nice with the gays and not work so hard to block equal rights for them. Don't you know? Gays rule the world!!

      January 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Yes James, that's what I find most offensive. As with Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses, there is an expressed, and sincere devotion to Jesus Christ, yet a denial of his role as the supreme, divine sacrifice. Thus we see many disaffected Catholics and others joining these alternative churches under the impression that they have not renounced their Christian faith. Muslims are proud to point out what they see as a misunderstanding of Christ, and Mormons ought to be just as clear in their condemnation of "Christiandom" with its triune concept of Divinity.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  7. dave

    Definition of Christianity: Whatever I believe (some people's perceptions)
    Its interesting that some of our friends are presumptios enough to re-define what is a Christian to something other than every definition in any dictionary.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      I wonder, Dave, if it isn't worthwhile to make a few distinctions, like between the unitarians and the trinitarians, who divided in the 3rd century. I mean, just about everybody says Jesus was a nice guy and a good model (excluding Nietzsche types, of course), Mormons even go so far as to accept Christ's sacrificial role in our salvation. However, in denying his divine nature, being a created being, like Satan, the redemption is not complete, as we have work to do to earn the balance. Well Dave, I find distinctions useful sometimes, and conflations to lead to misunderstandings, as when a Catholic converts to Mormonism as thinks they are worshipping the same Jesus, but in fact are not permitted to worship or pray to a mere human. It so funny how we like to make distinctions when convenient, and to deny them when not.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  8. CB

    They feel bigotry? Really? Hmmmmmm, maybe they should move to a small mormon town in Utah and see how they are treated if they deny they are mormons...

    January 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • foxfire

      Well, it would be pretty much of all religious groups except the Quakers.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  9. The McNew

    Read Christopher Hitchens' great essay on Romney's Mormon Problem.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2011/10/is_mormonism_a_cult_who_cares_it_s_their_weird_and_sinister_beli.html

    January 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  10. Mike

    Did everyone forget Warren Jeff's already? He's a Mormon too!! Romney and Jeff's are from the same religous affiliation. They are both Mormon. 🙂 I have no problem with Mormons, until they try to push their beliefs on me. Sorry, I lost my faith a long time ago in honest people who claim to be Christian but know nothing of the teaching of Christ. How can we allow religions who want to actively affect and change our governemnt tax exempt status when it's a known fact that our founding fathers were mostly opposed to organized religion?

    January 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Sanity

      So is Harry Reid. He converted to it by choice. Do you have a point?

      January 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • soundnfury

      @Mike: Warren Jeffs is not part of the LDS church. He broke off from the church with his followers into a different sect, rather like the Protestant movement broke off from the mainstream Catholic church hundreds of years ago. Please research facts before posting. Thanks.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Mike

      ok. fair enough. Thanks for correcting me. 🙂

      January 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • sara

      Warren Jeffs is a member of a Fundementalist Mormon group that is not associated in anyway with "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints" which is the church that Mitt Romney attends. This is exactly the confusion that Mormons want to see cleared up. Please understand that Warren Jeffs and Mitt Romney do not nor have they ever attended the same church.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • foxfire

      Mike...good point.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  11. Erik

    Mormons think they're Christians. Great. I could care less. The fact of the matter remains that despite what they may want to believe, Mormons are about as close to Christianity as Muslims. Remember how people kept saying Obama is a Muslim? Where is their outrage over Mitt Romney being a Mormon? Apparently religion matters to these people....

    January 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Mike

      It's a double standard. Just like everything else that is done by the Republican party.... "Do as I say... not as I do."

      January 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  12. LDS

    Mormon Marriage = One man & one women. Anything else will get you excommunicated. Of course the bigots don't want you to know that. Way too much hatred from the crazies on this blog. Mormonism = fastest growing religion in America. Hmmmmmm.. wonder why?

    January 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Sammy

      Let's hope the Mormons can stomach the discrimination they themselves are so adept at applying to other subgroups of Americans. Why is there so much hypocrisy in all religions?

      January 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Jacko

      Agreed. Good, decent, hard working people have always been looked down on. Look at the amish. Can't we all just get along. Seems mainstream Christianity has forgot the charge to love one another and judge not!

      January 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Science2

      Radical Christians are paranoid. I've attended their meetings where the preacher has a class every Sunday to preach against Mormonism. One of the most hate filled sermons I have ever witnessed. You'll NEVER find anything like that at a Mormon church. EVERYONE is welcome. When I go to church I prefer to know what the preacher believes, not his crazy rants about other religions. In fact, some of the evangelical faiths don't know what they believe and their meetings are so filled with weird classes on how to detect a cult. I believe that is why many Americans are fed up with their churches and looking for one that preaches love rather than hatred. Can't have it both ways.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  13. CHOPPY

    Hope for what? The book of Mormon is a nonsensical dogmatic doctrain that has no value whatsoever. Descrimination is universal against stupidity

    January 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  14. JigokuShonen

    If they feel discriminated against, they can try to not follow ridiculous religious beliefs.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Vicky

      If they use their own bad logic they apply to gay Americans, then they mad a bad choice.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  15. patNY

    Mormon...Moron...Mormon....Moron....any coincedence they sound and spell almost the same?

    January 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Kenn

      patNY ... panTY ... patNY ...panTY

      January 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • How embarassing for you...............

      PAT. Your moronic posts make the CNN blogs a cesspool. Seriously, the sticks and stones stuff was so 3rd grade. Oh, and your the very first to recognize the words Mormom and Moron ryme! You've got a FRESH take on things. Highly constructive too! And so well thought out! Keep the flashes of brilliance comming!!! LOL!!!

      January 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Pat, you missed Moroni, though I don't think it fair or nice to allude to morons, because no matter how strange their beliefs, they are a sincere people generally, and those I have known are bright and friendly. I just object to the failure to acknowledge their belief in Christ as a created being, like Satan, and therefore not really qualified to provide that redemption described on their Web site:
      See Mormon.org, and as follows from there.
      In 1823 Joseph Smith was visited by a heavenly messenger named Moroni just as angels often appeared to Apostles in the New Testament. Moroni told Joseph about a record of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent that was buried in a nearby hill. He said it contained the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and was written on thin metal sheets of gold. Joseph translated the book into English. The book was named the Book of Mormon after Mormon, the ancient prophet who compiled it.

      January 12, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  16. Don

    hmmmm

    January 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  17. Sanity

    Let's play Trivial Pursuit.
    In 2009, which of the following was named "Mormon of the Year" by "Times and Seasons", an LDS periodical?

    a. Mitt Romney
    b. Barack Obama
    c. Nancy Pelosi
    d. Harry Reid

    Let's see who will be first to Google it!!

    January 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Big George in Big D

      are you kidding? you're joking, right?

      January 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Sanity

      Jan 11, 2010 – "Times and Seasons has selected Harry Reid as Mormon of the Year for 2009.

      During 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was the most visible and influential Mormon politician in the world, shepherding Democratic legislative proposals through the U.S. Senate after the party’s victories in the 2008 elections, including a landmark health care bill that represents one of the more controversial pieces of legislation to pass through the Senate in recent memory. Reid’s off-the-cuff style has also led occasionally to unscripted remarks that have attracted a lot of attention.

      While Reid’s faith is not always discussed as much as that of other Mormon politicians, he remains an active member of his ward. In recent years he has helped the Church on some crucial issues, including helping to broker a compromise over Martin’s Cove. Reid spoke openly about his faith in a 2007 address at Brigham Young University and touched on his conversion and beliefs in his recently published memoir. A fixture in Nevada politics who has dedicated his life to public service for decades, Reid has long advocated that one can consistently be both a Democrat and a Mormon."

      January 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Arlin

      First the "Times and Seasons" published by the LDS church was a newspaper printed between 1839 and 1846. What you refer to is not a Church Publication but rather a group of Bloggers who use that name. The Church does not name a person of the year.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  18. Jordon

    The Bigot Blog. They are out in large numbers today... of course none of you go to church or know what you believe... but it sure is easy to take pot shots at people who do.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • CHOPPY

      "Believe"what? When people watch what should be educated intelligent people put their faith in something that inate logic defines as absurd what are they to do? say "ok if they believe it I better accept, respect it" No...Pat Robertson says that the declinre of America, if you believe it is declining which I do not, is caused by the acceptance of h0m0$exuality. So are we to respect that theory because he "believes" it is supported in the Bible......Rational, educated people respect what makes sense and if it doesen't...well that's the "believers" problem.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  19. Brett

    It's pretty clear from the posts here where the hate and vitriol come from and exactly why some LDS feel bigotry towards the faith. You would be hard pressed to find a practicing mormon say the kinds of things found on this board about anybody. People that actually practice the LDS faith (or any number of others) are profoundly good people and an asset to society.
    The LDS church is not a cult. Cults live isolated from society as a whole – think Branch Dividians. They control education and means of leaving the group. Mormons live in dozens of countries among the general population and highly value secular education – so much so that the church as set up a program called the perpetual education fund to help those without means gain a higher education.
    Mormons are very much Christians in the sense that they believe the only salvation from earthly sin is through Jesus Christ – yes the Jesus Christ of the New Testament.
    I can't possibly combat each of the falsehoods and outright lies about the LDS faith here. If any curious reader wants to know the truth, I encourage them to do their own research and to observe those around them living the faith. "By their works, ye shall know them."

    January 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      As you may know, Brett, Christians label a "cult" an organization that in "Christian" in appearance only, as in denying Christ's divine nature, being a created being, just like Satan. Other criteria have to do with secrecy, rituals, and having holy books that supercede the Bible. Sorry that "cult" has such a negative connotation; Mormons have established quite a powerful and effective organization. Baptism of the dead may be found offensive by surviving families of other religions, and the presence of a massive temple that one may not enter may be threatening, Stories of parents not being able to attend the weddings and baptisms of their grandchildren, and of the intimidations for money and service as contribute to the unfortunate image. Yet the success of Mormon politicians has been impressive, and I am sure that Mr. Romney will find gainful employment after the election.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Skeye

      You're out of your mind. Because someone is a practicing Mormon doesn't mean they are profoundly good. I know good Mormons and I know bad ones. I know Mormons that practice their religion down to a tee yet they are extremely judgmental of others. An Romney is a great candidate, however this country was founded on the ideology of separation of church and state. So, his religion should literally be irrelevant. If it isn't, if he plans on running this country based on Mormon principles, then he has no business being President.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  20. God

    I like Mormonism, &Islam they both believe in one man many Wives. Dont u guys like to fuk. Why not convert & enjoy.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Arlin

      Sorry but you sound like and adolesent male with his brain a bit lower than where most of us have ours. Why not study before you write nd you would not sound quite so illiterate.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:15 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.