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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. thehorror

    Awwwww…. & in other news: Neo-Nazis feel discriminated against too!

    Its kind've hard to feel bad for a group of ppl experiencing discrimination, when that same group of ppl conjured about $70,000,000 (tax free) during this countries worst recession since the Great Depression, just to strip another minority of their civil rights. Might as well have wasted your time writing an article on how poor Bernie Madoff got his feelings hurt when Americans were mean to him and sent him to prison.

    Contrived journalistic Do-Doo.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  2. keeth

    I never had any bad feelings toward Mormons until they stuck their religion and their money from Utah into the Yes on 8 campaign in California. As far as I'm concerned, they hated first, so they shouldn't be surprised when others hate them back.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • thehorror

      is there a 'like' button for this?

      January 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Plain papa

      In 2008 I was shocked to find my LDS neighbors knocking on my door preaching inteloranch and bigotry in their support of Prop 8. How hypocritical is it for them to now claim to be victims of that same inteloranch and bigotry.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • LouAz

      Like

      January 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      LIKE LIKE

      January 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • LDSinSC

      Yes, its a very good thing that, what, all of 4% of the California population is Mormon. Wow! I wonder were the other 48% came from. Oh yeah, that's right. Latino Catholics and Black Baptists. But the Mormons are easier to blame. Otherwise, gasp! You might have to tell the truth!

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

      @LDSinSC

      The LDS church is blamed for prop 8 not because they're 2% of the california population... but because that 2% donated 50% of the money and 75% of the volunteer hours to the yes on 8 campaign. Disproportionate involvement gets you disproportionate blame/credit.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  3. Colin

    Which of the following is a silly story only a naïve child would believe and which is a "treasured religious belief" that must never be questioned or doubted?

    Harry Potter stared into the big black hat. Inside were magic gold tablets – which nobody else would ever see- which told Harry the secrets of the Universe, of life, death and the afterlife. They explained to him how, if he wore certain magic underwear, he would be protected from evil spirits in this life and in the end times.

    Joseph Smith stared into the big black hat. Inside were magic gold tablets – which nobody else would ever see- which told Joseph the secrets of the Universe, of life, death and the afterlife. They explained to him how, if he wore certain sacred underwear, he would be protected from evil spirits in this life and in the end times.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Sounds like Moses.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  4. Burbank

    Anit-gay people are feeling bigotry? I think that's called Karma. Just sayin...

    January 12, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  5. abinadi

    The early apostles knew the church would be restored in the latter days and they spoke directly to you and me in Acts 3, "19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

    20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

    21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of rest itution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

    22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

    23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people."

    I know that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is a true and living prophet today. You can find out more at mormon.org.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • stephen

      Please visit mormon.org or LDS.org and look for the answers yourself. You don't need the filters of others. If it is true, you will come to know it through a confirming spirit sent from God, not someone with bias or an agenda, on an online post. If you truly are interested in finding the truth, you will be led to it.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Charles

      That passage of scripture talking about Jesus. It wasn't talking about some guy named Joseph Smith. When God told Moses that he would raise a prophet up amoung his brethren, His brethen meaning the Jews... Jesus was of the seed of Jesse.

      Again, the passage of scripture you twisted has nothing to do with your LDS heritical church

      Try again

      January 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Andy

      That scripture and statement from Moses is quite clearly a reference to Jesus.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  6. JP0

    My dad used to make an offer to Mormon missionaries, Jehovah's Witnesses and other proselytizers whenever they came to his door. They could have half an hour to explain why their religion was best for him if he could have half an hour to explain why his religion was best for them. No one ever took him up on the offer.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Kelli

      I spent 1 1/2 years as a Mormon missionary and frequently met with people who shared with me things about their religion. I loved it. I would have taken your dad up on his offer but not as a forum for debate. I just like learning about what other people believe in and how it is similar (or different) to my beliefs.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • JP0

      He would have welcomed an intelligent discussion but there never was one or I surely would have heard about it.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • mish

      I was a Missionary in Korea. I received that same offer multiple times. I ALWAYS accepted. Props to you Dad for the invite. He sounds like an exceptional individual!

      January 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • JP0

      Indeed he was.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  7. dudleythesharpei

    Why is it Mormons feel discriminated against yet they were one of the largest supporters of Prop 8? Sorry Mormons but I don't feel sorry for you. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

    January 12, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  8. GD

    In general, I think mormons, evangelicals, jews, muslims, hindu's, atheist's, etc. are good people.

    Most of the people commenting on these forums? Truly scare me...very, very, very disturbed.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • JP0

      Most of them are operating with misguided principles. I did once meet a elderly Methodist Minister who seemed to have figured out what life was about and the role of religion in peoples lives. It didn't have anything to do with fairy tales.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  9. LouAz

    Mormons feel discrimination ? They've earned it ! Almost holier than thou catholics.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  10. matt

    Read the book by Ed Decker the God makers. Mormon is a cult started by Joe Smith. The tv commercials are great but you need to dig into the inner church where regular mormons can even go. Scary stuff.

    If Romney follows mormon rules the chichi of the latter day saints will be the president of the United States. Sounds crazy but you need to do you r home work on Mormon.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Dave

      After you read that, then read "The Truth about the Godmakers." You'll be surprized at the misinformation in Ed Decker's book.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  11. dave

    The Ignorant posts on this comment board prove the validity of the original article. There ARE many who are ignorant about the LDS faith! With others there is a distortion of the doctrine and or the principles of the faith intentially OR by regurgitating something they have heard unintentially.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  12. Jeepers

    Listen Mormons. Believe whatever you want. What goes on inside of your heads is none of my concern. All I ask is that you do not come to my house, ring my doorbell and ask me if you can come in and discuss my religious beliefs. That is none of YOUR concern.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Mkat2

      Could be worse...instead of young men in suits & ties, you COULD have young men with hats on backwards, pants down past their butts, carrying guns ready to rob your belongings to buy drugs!

      January 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Jeepers

      You're right. I should booby trap my front porch just in case. So Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, beware. You might just fall in a trap door spike pit filled with venomous snakes if you try to ring my doorbell...on account of my "burglar system."

      January 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Jeepers

      Same goes for kids trying to sell me magazine subscriptions for their school fundraisers. Watch out kids! They are the worst. How are you supposed to turn now a cute little kid just trying to win a prize while unwittingly being trained as a sales drone for the commerce machine?

      January 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  13. Pat

    How come they're so rich, but pay no taxes?

    January 12, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Kurt Kammeyer

      Where did you get that crazy idea? If by "they" you mean the LDS Church, they are exempt from paying taxes, just like the Catholics and every other religion in America. The LDS Church DOES pay taxes on a few businesses that it owns, in accordance with law.
      If by "they" you mean "Me", then I happen to pay taxes like every other citizen in this country. And if you consider me "rich" (which I'm not) then it's a class warfare issue, not a religious issue. Try to stay on topic.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Mkat2

      I don't know. Ask the Catholic church! And, I was born Catholic (non-practicing now) I thought we got over this rediculous prejudice when we elected John Kennedy & supposedly......the Pope would be running our contry?! We are only a 'little' bit more intellectually advanced than some of the third would countries we make fun of!

      January 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Dave

      Ok, let's be realistic for a moment. Romney paid about 35% on his income. Then, he invested it and paid another 15% on returns. Seems like he is paying his fair share. Also, most Mormons are in the middle class.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  14. dewed

    I live in Utah, and I'm not Mormon. I certainly feel misunderstood, and feel the bigotry and persecution for being such...but no more so than any other American living in certain places who doesn't pray the same way as the majority/plurality.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  15. W.G.

    Ask any Christian Apologetic worth his weight in salt and he´ll tell you that Mormonism is a cult . I read a couple of blogs here on CNN and decided for myself to look up Mormon beliefs and there is nothing Biblical in their beliefs . They even CHANGED
    the Bible to fit their religion . One of their beliefs is that Jesus ´s brother was satan . Paul said in the Bible that if anyone comes to you with a different Jesus than the one we told you about , then let them be accursed .

    January 12, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Informed99

      And this would be different to the christian sects how??

      January 12, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Kurt Kammeyer

      W.G.,
      Ask any Mormon Apologetic and he will tell you that the original Christian faith went off the rails in about the 2nd or 3rd century AD. The Trinity is NOT Biblical, but is a fabrication of the 4th century Council of Nicea. And that is where we part ways. That stricture in Revelation about not adding to or diminishing from the word of God only applies to Revelation, not the whole Bible. And who is to say that GOD cannot add to his own words, if He chooses? Why would he speak to men on earth for 4,000 years, and then suddenly go silent for the last two thousand?

      January 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Kurt Kammeyer

      AND BY THE WAY, we use the King James Version of the Bible. Don't believe me? It's all there online at lds.org.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Dave

      I imagine you've heard that from someone else. It is always best to do your own research.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  16. saraha

    Most religions that believe in wackadoo stuff get rather sidelined. Like Mormons and Scientologists. Just sayin.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Pat

      ....and you're 'sayin' correctly......except that those aren't really religions, but, in fact, corrupt business organizations who pay no taxes. 'wackadoo' is also appropriate.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  17. Josie

    Having been raised in the church I can tell you a few things. For one not ALL mormon families have a large amount of kids. In fact, one of my friends from church was an only child, I have a brother and sister, and my uncle has a son and daughter. Plus we are NOT the only church with large families (go to a Catholic church for example). Two even if we do accept Christ as our savior, it is different then the mainstream churches, and we are taught to look down on others because they don't have the "complete" story like we do. I walked away from the church when I was 19, and never looked back. Funny, my own parents don't want Romney as a President, but it has nothing to do with his beliefs, and everything to do with some of the choices he has made in the past. The Mormon church has several times through US history tried to have someone obtain the Presidency, looks like it might just happen.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • josh

      I have to disagree with Josie. As a memebr of the church for many years, we are not taught to look down on other religions or any group for that matter. I have to admit that some members do that, which is unfortunate, but by no means are we taught that or support that.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Kelli

      Funny, I was raised mormon too and NEVER was taught to look down on anyone. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. I'm sorry that you had that experience but to say that the LDS church as a whole teaches people to look down on others is just not accurate of gospel principles. Period!

      January 12, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Kurt Kammeyer

      And the Mormon Church has never "tried" to have one of their members elected President, any more than Catholics supported John Kennedy for President. That is our right as citizens. The IRS has often threatened to pull the tax-exempt status of any church that gets involved in politics, although I have yet to see it happen. About every four years, we hear a letter from the First Presidency of the LDS Church encouraging us to be involved in politics, but warning us that the Church does not endorse candidates and that Church buildings and resources are not to be used for political purposes. Can the Methodists or Southern Baptists make the same claim?

      January 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • JoeF

      I also disagree. I was raised LDS and was never taught to look down on others. People do sometimes make judgments that offend others (like apparently Josie) but that is their poor choice and not related to what they are taught in Church.

      Also Josie, I am sorry that you have these negative feelings about the Church. I was less active for most of my early 20's, and I know something about those hard feelings that one can develop. I want to tell you that returning to the church has brought so much peace to me. I realized that the hard feelings I had, were my issue and not others. The Church is true and its doctrine is the doctrine of the Lord.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  18. Colt

    If you need more evidence just read the comments

    January 12, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  19. steve in texas

    I wonder how many Gods humanity have made up over the last 10-20,000 years? Must be thousands, probably tens of thousands. And each one was convinced they were the REAL TRUE GOD! The ego of humanity truly is something to behold.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • saraha

      Steve in Texas, SO TRUE. It defies logic to look at all the religions out there, see how convinced other people are that they are right, and still believe that YOU have the one true god! All gods are just made up because humans cannot fathom how to live without all the answers. That's my hypothesis anyway! God told me it's true.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Mike

      It is very refreshing to see someone in Texas say that. I have serious concerns about the rationality of Texans.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  20. Kurt Kammeyer

    I think most of the postings on this site prove the point of the article – that Mormons still feel bigotry and persecution from many of those outside their faith. I will say, though, that we've come a long way in the last 150 years – at least nowadays we're not being expelled from the United States, disenfranchised, burned out of our houses, or had our leaders murdered. I think I can live with this.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Dave

      I agree. Much better today than in the past.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:53 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.