home
RSS
Poll: Faith important in 2012, but Mormon skepticism remains
November 8th, 2011
08:25 AM ET

Poll: Faith important in 2012, but Mormon skepticism remains

By Dan Merica, CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A poll released Tuesday painted a picture of a religious electorate that has a strong preference toward religious candidates.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute survey, two-thirds of voters (67%) said it is either very important or somewhat important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs.

"Among those who say it is important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs, most say that what matters is simply holding strong religious beliefs, rather than holding particular religious beliefs," the survey said.

Rick Perry's faith journey culminates in presidential run

At a press briefing about the survey, Washington College political scientist Melissa Deckman said that importance of candidates' religiosity "is a notion that... transcends party."

At the same time, the electorate is split over their comfort level with a specific religion, Mormonism, and the prospect of a Mormon serving as president.

A majority of voters (53%) said they were somewhat or very comfortable with a Mormon president, while 42% said a Mormon president would make them somewhat or very uncomfortable.

"These findings suggest that when voters report that it is important that a candidate have strong religious beliefs, they have certain types of religious beliefs in mind, and hold significant reservations about the beliefs of some minority religious groups," the study said.

How Mitt Romney's Mormonism shaped his life and politics

"Clearly, most Americans like political candidates to have some sort of general civil religious beliefs," Deckman said.

"The data shows clearly here a lot of Americans show discomfort with Mormons, 42% acknowledge that, but they express more discomfort with atheists and Muslims than they do with Mormons," Deckman added.

The level of comfort with a Mormon president has risen to importance in the 2012 nomination battle because there are two Mormon candidates in the race, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

In the most recent USA Today/ Gallup poll, Romney is tied with businessman Herman Cain at the top of the field, a position Romney has maintained throughout this race.

Though only around one-third of respondents said that Mormonism is not a Christian religion, two-thirds (66%) of voters said that the religious beliefs of Mormons are somewhat or very different from their own.

Additionally, 19% of voters identified they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who had strong religious beliefs other than their own.

Mormon Church aims to counter its lily-white image

According to the study, all the data, "reveals that a substantial number of voters (42%) express concern about a Mormon becoming president."

Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI, noted at the briefing that other surveys have shown half of Americans know someone who is Mormon. "If there's a silver lining, it's that those opinions may not be strongly held," he said, adding the Romney could counter those loosely-held beliefs about Mormons on the campaign trail.

"There is no (religious) test for office. And yet it is one of the most important tests for office," said Jose Casanova, an expert in the sociology of religion at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, who also spoke at the release of the survey results. "So no official test, yet it is crucial for most voters."

The survey also examined views of income inequality in America, an issue that has thrust to the forefront of public discourse by the Occupy protests going on in cities around the world.

"A strong majority (60%) of Americans agree that the country would be better off if the distribution of wealth was more equal," the study said. Thirty-nine percent of respondents disagreed.

That questions was largely partisan, with 78% of Democrats and 60% of independents agreeing the country would be better, compared to 63% of Republicans who disagreed with that sentiment.

Explain it to me: Mormonism

The American Values Survey was conducted between September 22 and October 2 over the telephone. The 1,505 respondent survey comes with a plus or minus 2.5 percent margin of error.

CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Faith • Politics • Polls

soundoff (803 Responses)
  1. Mike

    Mormonism is a cult.
    Christianity is the only way to salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Jesus

      Not everyone cares what you think about Jesus and BS "salvation".

      November 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Melissa

      Quit it with the Mormon "cult" cliche line already. How horrible would it be to say blacks are "lazy" or Polish people are "stupid." Mormons represent millions of people of a wide variety of interests. Check into mormon.org and see for yourself.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • goz

      Mormonism is built upon the same unbelievable stories as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Don’t be a bigot. Jesus just happened to appear in this country in the 19th century. What else would he be doing 1900 years after his resurrection? Sitting at the right hand of God somewhere watching us on earth, since the rest of the universe is just there for wallpaper.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Dockthescot

      @ Mike You're an Uneducated Bigot. You should really do some fact finding before you make public posts. Maybe you have some insight on some other crucial points of politcal science? You seem to be a guru on the subject. And, no I am not Mormon, but I did find out all the facts before I spew absent-minded rhetoric out for the masses to gawk at.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  2. glyder

    black liberation theology.that's what is in the white house now.any problem with that for the msm.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  3. coyote123

    To me all religions are based on an unproven premise. Faith simply means believing in something unknown and following it for guidance. The big trouble with Mormonism (besides their more loony ideas than other faiths) is their secretive nature. Hidden rites and ritual, mysteries and initiations...etc, that smacks of cult culture. If a religion cannot be honest, open with it's beliefs and rites...no, sorry, that mindset is not presidential or honest.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Melissa

      If you want dishonesty check into the Herman Cain camp. Mormons consider things "sacred" not "secret" as do many religions.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Objective in CA

      @coyote: Agreed that religions are based on a foundation of unprovable (at least by the scientific method) concepts and principles. But this is not limited strictly to religion. Much of science is first taken on faith until it can be proven. Often, as is the case with many medicines, we accept a certain amount of ambiguity, even failure, when attempting to obtain value. For example, if a medicine was proven to be 50% effective against a disease, we wouldn't classify it as useless, necessarily. We may still attempt to derive value from it for the 50% of people it will help. Perhaps we should view religions (and even Atheism) in much the same way. If the people involved in it find value in it, none of the rest of us should have a problem with it. All should be allowed the same privilege.

      The problems arise when one person or group attempts to impose its belief system on another person or group. Mitt Romney is not attempting to do this so his religious affiliation should have no bearing on jos candidacy, other than to point out that he attempts to live by good principles and tries to lead a good life.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  4. Buy the People

    Repeal all tax breaks for all religious organizations. The first salvo in the war on poverty and ignorance.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Jesse

      because the churches have so much money to give to people.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  5. Thomas

    @Jim in Florida

    I'm not voting for Romney , not because he is a Mormon . But because none of his five sons volunteered for military service in a time of war . To me that is economic class privilege , corporate elitism.

    In regards to Netanyahu , he is a liar . Most Israelis will tell you that !

    November 8, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Jesse

      because Mitt should have MADE his sons go into the military.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  6. drucifer27

    If Romney gets the nod, it will be very entertaining watching the Republicans suddenly come out and start saying that a person's faith isn't an issue.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  7. Johnson

    I have seen the Mormon Church intervene in California politics and it is scary to think that the head of their Church who claims to chat with God will have input into the Presidency. Romney was a Bishop. Of course he is going to seek spiritual guidance from his Prophet. Yes, I am not comfortable with a Mormon President. Their religion is too culty for me.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Melissa

      Johnson, check into how many different churches fought against Prop 8 in California. It was a religious fight and not exclusively a Mormon fight. Next, if you are worried he will bring his "church" into the white house, check his record, I bet half the people in Massachusetts didn't even know he was Mormon and he was governor there for 4 years.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • rick

      Do you know how many Bishops there have been in the Mormon church? Tens of thousands. I've personally known at least 20, and not one of them has even spoke directly to the Prophet. The idea that Romney would go to the Prophet for any kind of council is completely absurd, especially to Mormons!

      November 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Davis

      Well this shows what you know. The prophet would have no input in the political side.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Common Sense

      I see what you mean, because believing in virgin births, talking snakes and entire oceans being parted by the wave of a stick is so much more rational than what those evil "Cultish" Mormons believe

      November 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Dockthescot

      @ Johnson. You're an idiot. Like all religions Mormons believe in separation of Church and State. It is called antidisestablishmentarianism. I know that's a big word for you so have your mom look it up for you. Therefore, their prophet will have NO say in how Romney would run the government. You should really do some research before you make public posts, then you wouldn't sound so uneducated.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Criminy

      I totally agree with you, Johnson.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "Like all religions Mormons believe in separation of Church and State."

      False...christians still think this is a christian nation...no separation there.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  8. pitung

    Of all the candidates, I'd rather have a Mormon president than the other. I do notunderstand why people are complaining to have a Mormon as their leader. Here is the same problem – if you are a liberal Mormon (Harry Reid), the media is silent – if you are a conservative Mormon, then the media starts screaming!

    November 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  9. WickedTribe

    I prefer everyone, including our leaders, to not be dopes. I wish it was illegal to brainwash children into believing fairy tales like Sky Daddy. It scarred me for a long time.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  10. karl

    Religion is a cult....if only we could find a president who cares more about progress than witholding archaic beliefs

    November 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Jesus

      I agree 100% with this statement. Religion has no place in our political system, I hope to see the day when it no longer interferes with progress.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  11. Ya Think !!

    More than 50% of US Population want Obama back, I one of them. OBAMA 2012

    What a joke, one can not say the word Israel with out the Letters USA followed right after.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  12. Jesus

    All religions are nuts, so it really doesn't matter if Romney is Mormon, Catholic, Jewish or Hindu.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Criminy

      As long as he is not Islam. OK?

      November 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  13. HIH

    Like it matters most everyone in Washington checked their morals at the door..sound bites and media coverage rule all

    November 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  14. Chuck

    Mormonism is a cult. Don't put a cultist in the white house please. I'll take Obama over any of the yahoo's currently running.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Melissa

      Chuck – definition of cult please?

      November 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      @ melissa
      Quit being lazy and go to dictionary.com yourself.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Buy the People

      Melissa – Cult = religion = cult = religion = cult = religion.... any further questions?

      November 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Just Me

      Yea Chuck, still waiting for your definition of a cult. "Culters" (like birthers) statements are looking more and more ignorant each day.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  15. Sean

    Rather Mormon than an Evangelical. At least the Mormons tend to keep their crazy in the compound.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • BobZemko

      Don't forget that they both have a healthy hatred of fegs.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • M.K.

      No they don't – they send their kids out to be missionaries for two years all over the world.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  16. Brian

    I don't care that he's Mormon..but would prefer our president be an atheist, even though i am not..this would keep us out of most of the "trouble" we get involved in becuase then the president would have no biases based on his/her religious beliefs. A Mormon is no creazier than any other religion or denomination. All people who subscribe to Organized Religion are usually a bit "Nutty" anyway so I'm fine with any of the "relgions".

    November 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Jesus

      This is the smartest comment that I've seen on this disscussion board.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      I am an athiest and have been dealing with Christian presidents for quite some time now. At this point I really don't care what denomination they claim, or see why it should matter.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Jesus

      The only time it matters is when beliefs influence political policies.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Chuck

      Lunchbreaker has it correct... most politicians aren't religious but fake it to get votes. I would prefer an agnostic or atheist who uses his or her head and bases decisions on science and facts. Obama meets this requirement fairly well..

      November 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Davis

      Actually it is the dumbest comment. "oh, I am atheist, I have it all figured out and I am so much smarter than the rest of you".

      November 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  17. skeptic

    Yikes. 67% of America wants their leader to believe in Sky Daddy? May FSM help us all...

    November 8, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  18. SPQR

    God bless The United States of America.

    President Obama 2012 !

    History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance. -James Madison

    November 8, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  19. Lordy

    67% of Americans scare the hell out of me.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • SPQR

      33% of Americans scare the hell out of me.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • EatYouAlive

      100% of Americans scare the hell out of me.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Sean

      @ SPQR
      Based on what? Or was this just a juvenile jab at Lordy?

      November 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  20. Jim in Florida

    Obama's lapdog media tearing into Cain, now time to go after Romney. They couldn't care less if Obama sat in a Church listening to the America and Jew hating pastor for 20 years yet the media will take apart the Mormon Church. What a doubel standard.

    I see CNN isn't even reporting the hot mic conversation that Obama had with the French President – Obama's true view of Netanyahu and Israel now open for all to see and hear (as if there was any doubt that Obama isn't a freind of Israel).

    Leftists are bigoted and racist too.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • EatYouAlive

      Thanks for making sure we 100% know you are an idiot.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Chuck

      Jim.. I think that it's one of his own party that's paying off the accuser. Maybe the mormon?

      November 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Ancient Texan

      Just proving what we already knew. Maybe after he's defeated in 2012, we'll find out who this charlatan really is.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • PaulC

      Please take your meds and let us know when you return to earth.

      November 8, 2011 at 11:58 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Advertisement
About this blog

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.