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. Joseph

    Will you stop bullying and harassing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members on the internet? If you don't stop, the God of heaven will do what's appropriate for you according to His will.

    November 23, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  2. myklds

    Today's discrimination is nothing compared to the persecutions and sacrifices of our pioneers in the past. So let's just go on pressing forward, Saints.

    January 19, 2012 at 7:01 am |
  3. MCarmen Perez Lopez

    The idea expenses anyone more income and uses much more vitality to high temperature along with great your own home compared to any other method in your home. Usually, 44% to be able to 50% of your bills will pay for ...

    January 18, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  4. DUMBAtheiStS

    Not it isn't, it's because you have the gall to spew your BLATANT LIES here.

    And FYI.. I don't wear panties...and brief either. LOL!

    You really make laugh.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • Mirosal

      such as?

      January 17, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • DUMBAtheiStS

      The Typical ones.

      January 18, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @DumbTheist: What lies??? Please enlighten us all.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Biblical lies....
      Creation in 6 days...talking snake....talking burning bush....flood...man survives in fish for 3 days....sun halts in the sky...virgin birth....walking on water....dead Jesus resurrected...
      Boy....you people will believe anything.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  5. janskor

    "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." The door-to-door is what bothers me. I feel that my home is my castle-my refuge for peace and privacy from the harsh world we live and work in,and I feel violated and my privacy invaded when they ring my doorbell or leave pamplets. Otherwise, my feeling is you go to your church and I'll go to mine. If I seek out a different religion it has to be because I wanted to,not because someone solicited their religion.

    January 16, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Kev

      Did you put a sign out in front of your home that says something like "no solicitation" or "missionaries unwelcome"?

      January 17, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Kev: He shouldn't have to. In a society where we DVR everything so that we can fast forward through the commercials, why would anyone want someone coming to their door unsolicited? Except perhaps to say, "Dude! Your roof is on fire!"

      January 17, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Kev

      @ Sean, apparently that is not the case in this society. There is no official do not knock on door list as opposed to a do not call list.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  6. Susan S

    This is just crazy. There isn't a religion in the world that can't have a million "holes" poked in it. There are only two views to hold that are not completely hypocritical. One is that all religion is false and the other is respect for the beliefs of others. For a believer to take the position that another's belief is more ridiculous or outrageous than their own is patently hypocritical.

    Those who choose to condemn millions of people on the basis of their personal experiences are bigoted. While living in the South, my daughter's best friend was upset to learn at (an evangelical) church that her Mormon friend (my daughter) was going to hell. Friends of mine have had neighbors tell them the same thing. Bigotry exists however, I have many evangelical friends and would never think of condemning all evangelicals for the behavior of a few or even of many.

    To the person who claims he never met a Mormon serving in the military. My husband just retired after a twenty year career in the AF. In my small town alone there are at least 25 Mormon military families currently serving.

    January 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Abinadi

      My son-in-law is serving. My nephew is leaving for Afganistan this week. My other nephew just got home from the middle east. Utahns, many are Mormons, have always done our part for America, serving with distinction in all wars.

      January 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  7. Matt K

    McJefferson your comments are exactly in line with the content of this article showing the negativity and misunderstanding towards Mormons or LDS. I am LDS but live in Melbourne Australia and not an American. I am also a convert to the LDS faith and have found nothing but good things for me and my family since joining.You have no clue what so ever and need to get your facts straight mate !! The whole world outside of USA was laughing at George W Bush as we all saw well before you guys did what a bad President he was. Obama has tried his best but inherited a huge mess from Bush and has shown he cant handle it. Romeny will clean up the mess as he has the qualifications and the guts to make the hard decisions. For people to criticize him because he is a Mormon is a joke. He is the only guy who can save USA from themselves. Wake up USA !!

    January 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  8. 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?? BTW where is planet Kolob located??

    January 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Abinadi

      I haven't called the founder of your church a murderer or a loon. I don't even know what church you belong to. If you would like to tell me, I am sure I can rip it apart. I may even be able to find and join forces with some disaffected former members of your church and get some dirt on it from them.

      January 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Brad

      McJefferson is just a troll, Abinadi.

      January 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Abinadi

      You're right, Brad. Maybe I get too emotional. I'm going to bed.

      January 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Jim

      Kobol, not Kolob

      January 17, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • Kev

      Actually it is Kolob. Kobol comes from the Battlestar Galactica television series; both the 1970's version and the 2000's version.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Dave

      It would be difficult to say Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. He has middle eastern sentence structures (e.g., rod of iron vs. iron rod), names from the middle east (e.g., Alma), chaisms, and multiple writing styles. These cannot be explained by those who disagree with the Book of Mormon.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Paul

      McJefferson is NOT a troll. Faiths like Mormonism and Islam are warned about in Galatians!

      Galatians 1:6-9

      6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.[c] You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

      8 Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. 9 I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.

      February 7, 2012 at 5:01 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
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.