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. cary lacayo

    Mormons believe satan is the brother of Jesus...Mormons used to, up until the 70's, would no allow blacks to be members of the mormon church due to a curse that was put on them by what they believe, multiple wives, well now they don't practice that any longer as in the racist thing, but the founder jo smith was hunted down and killed for these things. The same person who had an encounter with God and Jesus, who told him mormonism is the truth and the only way to reach God. Coo-coo- O, but that's the what the guy running for president believes, hmmm, sounds like a sane person would follow this guy and his false teachings. NOT!!!! Why don't they ask romney these things??? Maybe the democrats are going to...please people just google mormonism and see the wackiness of it all, it's insane that millions follow this total falsehood. Use the brain you have and see for yourself...wake up...

    curtis...the Bible says not to add anything, so what and who is this 2 nephi stuff...

    January 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      You sound like you are part of the christian cult. kettle me pot. Your cult's history is pretty sketchy where human rights, discrimination, racism, etc, etc..

      January 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Curtis

      I see that you listened to your preacher and have refered to a verse in Revelations. So, if you might expain the rest of the Bible following Deuteronomy 4:2 or Deut 12:32?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Paul

      Check the historical facts on how the bible was put together and you will realize that your statement holds no water. The bible is not in the order it was written in the first place and the statement about not adding to the bible is also located in Deuteronomy. That being said that would make the whole bible after Deuteronomy false and I know you don't believe that is true. Additionally if you read the Book of Revelation you will realize in the context that the statement refers to adding to the Book of Revelation or messing with the revelations within that specific book. I read both the Book of Mormon and the Bible and each of them are great testaments of Jesus Christ and His life and give me insight into who He was and is. Try reading the book before you start attacking it.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  2. McJefferson

    Wasn't the book of mormon written by Joseph Smith?? The same guy who used seer stones to hunt for treasure?? Was a polygimist?? Murdered?? Developed mormon doctrine over a 15-20 year period?? Declared himself a prophet of God?? and some how reading HIS words and following HIS religion is not the act of joining a cult?? HAHA Silly mormons have you ever heard of Jim Jones or David Koresh??

    January 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Rich

      I don't understand how anyone could have followed him... Really, they believe that horse crap? This religion survives on fear, hate, lies, and naivety. They seem to reproduce as much as possible because they know that is the only way they can gain a following.... by brainwashing their children to hate other religions and ways of life. And by making them fearful to even consider that Mormanism might be wrong. Doubt the church and loose your family, friends and way of life.. it's all or nothing with them. Those poor.. poor fools.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  3. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    All I ever needed to know about Mormons, I learned from Southpark. Joesph Smith (background singing – dumb.dumb.dumb)

    January 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Rich

      Ditto! That is a great episode and I think every practicing Morman should see it! LOL... dumb..dumb.. dumb!!!

      January 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  4. Lew

    James as a ex Mormon of 36 years , you are having a bullseye,what you are sharing most in the church never even know, the Journal of Discourses are not in priint anymore, its no wonder James because many more would leave the church

    January 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  5. Rich

    Mormanism is a cult... they start with their young, brainwashing them and try to convert anyone who they think they can. They are full of hate for openly gay people and talk bad about other religions. I know this because I have had 2 friends who were shunned by their families and churches because they decided to be themselves and come out and be openly gay. They have told me stories of what goes on in those churches, households..etc.. and I am sure it is a CULT.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      sounds exactly like the christian cult doesn't it?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Rich

      @ Lucifer... yes it does.. in a way. But Christianity has been around for much, much longer and is based on something that really happened.. or so most believe. I'm not sure what to believe anymore to be honest.. Other than the fact that there IS a God.. Doesn't matter what you call God, it's the same God. Religion is BS.. Faith is where it's at! 😉

      January 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  6. Brett

    @ Magus – But mormons do believe Christ is divine in nature. Baptism for the dead is mentioned in the Bible. The only time we know of that Christ got angry is when he threw the money changers out of the temple. Mormons also hold their temples sacred, just as was done in historic times. It's actually quite interesting how much the modern mormon church has in common with Bible teachings largely ignored by much of Christianity. Baptism for the dead, priesthood, laying on of hands, sticks of Judah and Joseph, multiple glories of heaven, pre-earthly existence and many others are distinctly present in the Bible, but considered an oddity and unchristian when practiced by mormons. Frankly, I hope Romney does not get the nomination. I vastly prefer Huntsman or Paul.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • James

      After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354.)

      January 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  7. James

    God resides near a star called Kolob, (Pearl of Great Price, p. 34-35; Mormon Doctrine, p. 428).

    January 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Vaughn

      Um Huh! And what sayeth thee about funding anti-gay referendums with all the money in the world?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  8. James

    God the Father had a Father, (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105).

    January 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  9. Lew

    From Feb 15 1975 till Sep 11 2011 i was in the Mormon Church until i came upon a letter from Elder Delert Stapley of the 12 Apostles on Jan 14 , 1964 addressed to Gov George Romney of Mich, yes the father to Mitt.

    In the letter it was a warning to Gov George Romney not to support the civll rights bill.

    This was on George Romney profile on wippidea , go to notes number 102.

    After i found that letter i found more and more, went to church leaders , no answers, IN FACT ONE BISHOP SAID ' i cant be led astray now and ever by questions.


    January 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  10. James

    A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the father but Jesus' plan was accepted. In effect the Devil wanted to be the Savior of all Mankind and to "deny men their agency and to dethrone god," (Mormon Doctrine, p. 193; Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 8).

    January 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  11. James

    A.The book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible, (History of the Church, 4:461).

    January 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  12. James

    "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. . ." (8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church).

    January 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  13. epicjourney

    Those who claim mormons are not christian never make specific accusations why they believe so, because they know their arguments are incorrect and specious. Bigotry is unreasoned hatred and relies on untruths to spread, whether it is against mormons or any other identifiable group.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  14. James

    Baptism for the dead, (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. II, p. 141). This is a practice of baptizing each other in place of non-Mormons who are now dead. Their belief is that in the afterlife, the "newly baptized" person will be able to enter into a higher level of Mormon heaven.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  15. Brian Reynolds

    Mormons can dish it out but they can't take it.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  16. God

    Romney could be a Communist, Socialist or Capitalist, Depending on whom he is currently talking to.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  17. mttrailboss

    Slow down here.. When was the last time, that you looked into and researched 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' or sometimes called the LDS Church and Mormonism ? The news media and voters should take a closer look and research the LDS Church and their religious doctrine and beliefs, including rituals. Remember.., the LDS Church does NOT believe in the Trinity, like the majority of christian churches or mainstream christianity. The LDS Church doctrine and beliefs state, that they believe there are three separate Gods within the Trinity, (e.g., God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.), not all in one, as mainstream christianity believes. Mainstream christianity do not believe that self-made Prophet Joseph Smith saw and spoke with God and Jesus Christ in the human flesh, not in spirit. The list goes on and on, concerning their doctrine, beliefs, rituals, clothing, including secret sacred underwear (ask any LDS Church member) and that includes former Governor Mitt Romney, and lets not forget the rituals, secret handshakes and code words used within the LDS Church temples, and their feelings about Judaism (Jews) and other race and colors, including the gay community. Could it be a cult.., well, do some simple researching and you will find out, that there is a lot of things you might not agree with and should know about. How much power does the Prophets and Elders, and the leadership in Salt Lake City, have over their members, including former Governor Mitt Romney. I'll give you a clue.., a lot. The news media and the voters should take a closer look and research the LDS Church and their doctrines and beliefs, and their feels toward other religions in the world and the United States. You will shocked, at what you are going to learn and find. Mike in Montana

    January 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • realitycheck

      Self made prophet? Um, no. Joseph Smith was called of God. And yes, the voters should take a closer look and research the LDS Church and their doctrines and beliefs. I agree that they will be shocked – shocked to find out that it's all pretty good stuff and nothing like the haters want others to believe.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Rich

      @realitycheck.. how does brainwashing feel?

      January 12, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  18. Converted

    In Luke 9:49 the apostles said:
    "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us."

    Jesus replied in verse 50:
    "And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."

    I attend both an LDS ward and a Protestant Chapel. I know the LDS do everything in the name of Jesus.

    Might I also remind you that Jesus did not "fit the bill" of the leaders/majority of his time and they crucified him. So I ask you Christians, would you have also crucified our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Athiest need not respond as you do not believe.

    Come Unto Christ

    January 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • inTheDogHouse

      When Jesus was Crucified, it was believed that he committed blasphemy, and blasphemy was punishable by death.

      January 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  19. James

    God had s,e.x.ual relations with Mary to make the body of Jesus, (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, 1857, p. 218; vol. 8, p. 115). – This one is disputed among many Mormons and not always 'officially' taught and believed. Nevertheless, Young, the 2nd prophet of the Mormon church taught it.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  20. Curtis

    mormon.org or lds.org
    Look at the official site(s) and don't worry it isn't tracking your every key stroke like other websites.

    2 Nephi 25:26
    And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:00 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.