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. PatriotVet76

    Ladies and Gentlemen: It's not only a problem with LDS / Mormons, it's a problem with religion, period! Consider the conclusions of the following well-researched study:

    "One of the most widely noted findings from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS
    2008), which was released in March 2009, was the substantial increase in the No Religion segment of
    the U.S. population, whom we designate as “Nones.” The Nones increased from 8.1% of the U.S.
    adult population in 1990 to 15% in 2008 and from 14 to 34 million adults. Their numbers far exceed
    the combined total of all the non-Christian religious groups in the U.S."
    SOURCE: American Nones:The Profile of the No Religion Population. A Report Based on the
    American Religious Identification Survey 2008. Trinity College; Hartford, CT.

    In reality, the percentage of Americans who are non-religious and/or non-theists is far higher than most of us realize!

    Religion is becoming irrelevant for more and more Americans. Americans are becoming non-theists (but not atheists). Americans, in great numbers, no longer buy the delusions and false promises of deities. Many Americans are skeptical of organized religion.

    As the late Carl Sagan said: We've been bamboozled about God..........extraordinary claims (e.g., God) REQUIRE extraordinary evidence.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • test

      you lack a ton of knowledge on soo many topics. Religion may be irrelevant, but God is not. If you knew a little about American history you would know this country was by Protestants.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • redragon

      Patriot... yea!

      January 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Blinded by the Light

      test – you sound like a child arguing against a teacher.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • test

      Blinded by the light, you sound like a troll arguing against nothing.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "If you knew a little about American history you would know this country was by Protestants"

      if you knew anything about the history of this country you would know the founding fathers were mostly deist.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • eric

      Patriot–unfortunately this study coincides with the disintigration of family values. I know in statistics correlation does not always mean causation, but take a quick peak at the divorce and single parent home rates, etc. They have been climing as well. When religion is abandoned, sometimes the values that religion teaches are abandoned as well. I wouldn't be excited about this study, I would be worried about where we are headed as a country.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  2. test

    Mormonism is a cult.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • eric

      Test, read the Book of Mormon, cover to cover. You sound like you have a strong belief in God. You will find no book anywhere where that is more true than the Book of Mormon.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • test

      The Bible is more true than the Book of Mormon. Period.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • eric

      The Bible is absolutely true. I'm on your side there. I'm just saying you if you are going to call a large mainstream organization a cult, perhaps you should read the Book that it sets as its foundational scripture, alongside the Bible. The claim is the same, that prophets of God wrote their experiences just like what happened in the Bible, except it happened on the other side of the world. They knew that Christ would come to Bethlehem and believed in him, just like in the Bible. Check it out and you will never call the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a cult again. It actually will strengthen further your belief in Christ.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • test

      "The claim is the same, that prophets of God wrote their experiences just like what happened in the Bible, except it happened on the other side of the world."

      This kind of logic liberates any prophet. Like Mohammed "on the other side of the world". I've read small parts of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is inconsistent, regularly changed by its congregation, has many contradictions with the Bible which are combated by Mormons as simply being "interpreted" differently. My salvation does not require Joseph Smith AT ALL, and neither does your salvation. I know you are also strong in God, i strongly urge you to abandon Mormonism as it is such an obvious perversion of the Bible. YOUR SALVATION DOES NOT REQUIRE JOSEPH SMITHS GOLDEN TABLETS!
      Wake up

      January 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • eric

      This kind of logic liberates any prophet. Like Mohammed "on the other side of the world.

      Difference is the prophets in the Book of Mormon teach extensively regarding Jesus Christ. You will find one day that calling The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a cult was perhaps the biggest mistake you could have made. Read it cover to cover.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • test

      You fail to realize that salvation does not require Joseph Smiths Golden Tablets.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Dave

      Interestingly, the Bible suggests that the church Christ established was also spoken evil against.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  3. Jared

    Mormons are some of the best people I know. They are very family oriented and are honest hard working people. Yes, they do have some beliefs that mainstream Christianity does not seem to agree with but if you look at mainstream Christianity they have some odd beliefs as well.

    There are currently quite a few Mormons who have high positions in government and I don't see one instance where their church stepped in and told them what to do politically. They don't tell their members who to vote for either. One of my Mormon friends voted for Obama (*gasp*).

    January 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  4. "Y"

    I am confused...Mormon's feel discrimination?...I thought Black People (who are a cursed race being that we originate from the Tribe of Cain) are the only people who are suppose to experience such hatred!..I mean isn't that what they teach?..

    I thought Mormons were just like the KKK, but they don't want to be considered the Klan because they are "Holy" and they have a special heaven all of their own..

    January 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Cesar

      You mentioned the following:
      "I thought Mormons were just like the KKK, but they don't want to be considered the Klan because they are "Holy" and they have a special heaven all of their own.."

      You are comparing members of the LDS church to the KKK. I have been a faithful member for more than 14 years ( faithful means that I strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ and his teachings)
      I have never found a hint of discrimination in any of the doctrinal teachings of the church ever, and I am very well read in theology.(LDS) and have served in many and different ways throughout the church.
      If you think mormons are like the Ku klux klan is like comparing Mother Theresa to the Grinch. That's how opposite it is! It is so sad and impossible to understand the slanderous comparisons that you guys make. Those of us who know how good and true the church is can testify without any interest or selfish desire, and true sincerity that the church is true and that the church and its faithful members are an immesurable influence for good in the world. Of course, only those who believe and love Jesus Christ fill find it easier to discern the good wherever its source is. All the claims and negative opinions or gossip you usually read here are based on so much misunderstanding and not on those who have witnessed the goodness of the church or in those arounf them.

      How IRONIC it is to me, that someone talks about the Ku klux klan when he or she sounds discriminatory and bigoted in their claims about the mormon church themselves.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Dave

      Joseph Smith opposed slavery. Mormons never denied blacks membership in the church. Also, read 2 Nephi 26:33 to see what God thinks about all of his children.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  5. deepthunk

    Speaking for myself, I’m not bigoted; I ridicule and harass all religions equally.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • redragon

      YEAH... equality to all. I agree totally.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  6. JEM

    Mormons are discriminated against because they vote as a block to attack liberty and employ the violence of the state against anyone not like them. The War-on-Drugs which has done so much damage over the past century originates adn is driven from our nations chapels.
    The bad laws brought into existence by evangelicals and Mormons has attracted bad people to enforce those laws making the religious guilty of causing the militarization of US police forces and the massive increase in police brutality.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  7. shamgar50

    Sorry, but it's a goofy religion. Do a little research. The entire "founding story", as presented by Smith, is beyond belief and just plain nutty.

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

      and christianity isnt?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • eric

      If you read the Book of Mormon cover to cover you will find that there is no "goofy" in that religion.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Dave

      The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints answers many questions that are not answered elsewhere:

      – eternal marriage
      – apostasy and restoration of the gospel
      – salvation of children who die
      – preaching of the gospel to those who died without it
      – word of wisdom

      January 28, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  8. CarrotCakeMan

    In the most notorious Hate Vote of all, the 2008 California H8te Vote that actually took away the established right LGBT Californians had to protect each other with legal marriage, we saw that anti-gays cheated to throw the vote. The federal judge who revoked the H8te Vote has in his possession a letter written by Catholic bishops to Mormon leaders in which they both agreed to violate California campaign finance laws to throw the H8te Vote by making secret, illegal cash and in-kind contributions to the H8te Vote. The letter serves as proof positive they knew they were breaking the law; the letter itself is an act of criminal collusion. We know the Mormons made the Hate Videos shown on TV, but they refused to report these in-kind contributions as required by law. We know Mormons operated secret, illegal call centers in Idaho and Utah from which they made deceptive calls, because a million Californians reported these deceptive calls where anti-gays claimed a "yes" vote would support marriage equality. We know Mormons were told by their leaders to make large, secret contributions to the H8te Vote under pain of excommunication, and we know Mormons sent their church members from out of state. Mormon leaders were required by California law to report these contributions, but they refused.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  9. Zaphod2010

    They feel discrimination? Goodness, are these are the same mormons who didn't allow blacks in their church until 1978! Cry me a river! Why anyone would want to be one of them is beyond me.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Cesar

      you ignore the fact that black people did not have access to the priesthood not out of discrimination for the color of the skin, but out of a theological doctrine the church had or revelation back in the 1800's, not the priesthood should be given to some people based on their descendancy from the tribes of Israel. Just like in the times of Moses, only some people were given the priesthood, and not all of them were descendants of Aaron.
      All churches have different interpretations and doctrines. The catholic church itself would pardon the sins of some of its members based on the indulgences, or for the exchange of gold or money. Could we say that was discrimanation agaisnt the poor??? I can not be so presumptious as to even try to guess the intents of the heart of the leadership of that church, we can only see history as a learning tool and not as a way to judge the intentions of the people involved. Only God can judge.
      And also, if you did not know, before it was decided to give access to the priesthood to all the world, the black population in the church never felt discrimination from its members of other races, despite havinglived in a discriminatory and racist USA.
      have you forgotten why Martin Luther King fought so hard against discrimation? Well, did you know that many mormons marched in washington with him?

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

      Zaphod2010, I re read your post and let me tell you that you are very missinformed. You say we did not allow black in the church. There were A LOT of black members in the church before 1978. Do some research in reputable sources (and not anti mormon) and you will be in for the surprise of your life.:)

      January 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  10. Rick

    Welcome to the gay community's struggle; in large part due to this same group who "feel discrimination, hope"...

    January 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  11. eric

    As a Mormon, I'm not surprised by the backlash against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This country was founded, in part, because of a strong people desiring religious freedom who believed in the Bible. Soon after, Joseph Smith (a strong believer in the Bible) claimed to find a record from ancient America written on plates made of gold. Joseph Smith showed those plates to 15 other men who never denied that witness. The Book of Mormon is the translation of that record–and you can find it anywhere. Read the book, and you will see how impossible it is to explain it away. Christians are convinced of this every day. And so to my point. Some protestant religions whose livelyhood is made through their congregations feel that Mormons are a threat, because they threaten their pocketbook. That is why they are more antagonistic toward Mormons than are people who are not vigorous in their religious activity.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      How about you, eric, did you make a secret, illegal contribution to the California anti-gay 2008 H8te Vote?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • redragon

      The ancient egyptians wrote in stone... maybe we should all worship those gods too.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

      really weak replys

      January 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • mulehead

      So sad eric – i hope someday you can escape the lie. Your 'church' does so much more harm than any possible good.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • DJ in AZ

      Good post, eric.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • test

      Salvation on Earth does NOT require Joseph Smiths Golden Tablets.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  12. Really!?

    Oh Gosh! NO!!

    January 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  13. Jon

    I don't care about Romney's religion, and I don't really have any truck with those who would isolate or expel Mormons for their beliefs (which are, at this point, no stranger than other forms of Christianity). The only ones who might... are the ones Romney is trying to get to vote for him.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Terry

      Sorry, no vote here for Romney. How can Romney attack Obama-care when Romney-care is the exact same thing? Romney is a Closet Democrat.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Jon

      @Terry – I was *wondering* about that. Gee. Kind of brings up the fact that Obamacare was a REPUBLICAN idea originally, back before the party shifted further to the right, huh?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm |

    if anyone questions the validity of the article , just read the preceding posts.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  15. Rico

    Magic rocks, I mean seer stones. Magic underwear. God is a man with 100 wives who stands 6 foot tall and lives on his own planet. These are Moron beliefs. In reality the panderings of a con-man, a convicted con-man that is. I question the critical thinking and true intelligence of ANYONE who belives this to be gospel. I also question those who believe in 14 year old pregnant virgins and magic men who live in the heavens. As far as afterlife, we feed worms, the end. No I live in reality and only support/vote those who do. Religious folks of all ilk do not fit that category.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

      your reality is pathetic

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

      You called, TODD LEWIS? What can I do for you today?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • redragon

      the tooth fairy... you forgot the tooth fairy and santa.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • shamgar50

      Todd Lewis, you may think he's pathetic, but he's not lying!

      January 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Cesar

      Magic rocks, seer stones. Magic underwear. God a man with 100 wives who stands 6 foot tall and lives on his own planet? What are you talking about?Do you reaally believe WE believe and preach that? Come on! I am sure you have believe it from rumors, gossip or other literature written by bigots.I am a very devout LDS (or Mormon as people call members of the church) and in all the years in my experience in church leadership, as a missionary or as a student and teacher or as a new convert almost 15 years, I have ever heard the crap you are talking about in Sunday school or even mention. So dont believe everything you hear. I you believe in Christ, you will believe HIS words and his gospel. You are welcome to see for yourself and FEEL for yourself what we believe. Then you can judge as a true Christian. Remember the Lord said,"by [their] fruits ye shall know them...)

      January 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

      shamgar 50 not one thing that he said is true

      January 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • MDaniels

      Well Todd, better to accept a "pathetic" truth than to believe a comforting lie.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Dave

      Read the Bible to learn more about the Urim and Thumin, garments, etc. These criticisms are actually strengths if you study the Bible.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  16. abinadi

    If anyone has any sincere questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mormons), I am sure I and the other members of the church who are following these posts will be happy to explain it. If you look into it, I think you will find that our religion is really a very logical religion. President Henry B. Eyring, counselor to President Monson, I believe was quite well known in the scientific community before being called as an apostle. I know I have been a bit vehement towards atheists, but when I take the time to get to know them, some have told me that they think we are much more logical than the other religions, and we get along quite well. What I dislike about atheists is their crudity, but I love them :).

    January 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Can you explain to me why the LDS hierarchy places more value on money than life?
      "If a dest.itute family is faced with the decision of paying their ti.thing or eating, they should pay their t.ithing." (Lynn Robbins, General Conference, April 2005).

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

      The federal judge who revoked the 2008 California H8te Vote has in his possession a letter Catholic bishops wrote to Mormon leaders agreeing to hide from public scrutiny and refuse to report their illegal cash and in-kind contributions to the H8te Vote as required by California law. The letter serves as proof they knew by refusing to report these massive contributions they were violating campaign finance laws, as well as the letter itself being an act of criminal collusion.

      Did you make one of those secret, illegal contributions to the 2008 California anti-gay H8te Vote?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Lance

      'Logical religion" is an oxymoron:). I will agree with you Abinadi that Mormonism is certainly no more silly than other religion-it just has the disadvantage of being established much more recently and thus has much more information available to counter it's faith claims.

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

      If you've been raised LDS and it's what you believe, it does seem logical. However from the outside looking in, it just doesn't... I was raised LDS, and many friends and family are LDS. I respect their right to believe what they do. For my mother she gained peace and was a better person for her beliefs. However that being the case, I'm not sure people really understand what they are getting with an LDS president. Though there's more to it than belief alone. Frankly I find Huntsman to be the only solid person running this year for President. He was fabulous as Gov. of Utah. Best we've had since Matheson. I'd love to see him as Pres. because he's sane, and sees the big picture. It's not all about his ego or kissing the nether regions of a political party just for sake of getting their backing. However Republicans only a few short years ago threw Romeny to the wolves, and rightly so. He's both personally, professionally, and politically highly questionable at best. Now with them scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to get someone decent, he looks golden.... Young, Good Looking, Willing to swing his views whatever way they want. This does not make a good President however. Being a man of conviction and willing to hold to what you personally believe will be best for the country.... That does. Sadly other than Huntsman, I don't see anyone willing to do that or running for anything other than ego. That's fine in Jr. High... Not when it comes to wanting to be a world leader.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "If you look into it, I think you will find that our religion is really a very logical religion."

      no religion is logical when you base your beliefs on something that you cannot prove.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  17. HRPufnstuf

    Why in the world would they feel discriminated against? Wouldn't they be protected against it by their "lucky" underwear?

    January 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  18. pace-it

    I just listened to Santorum's town hall. He scares me more than the Mormon candidates.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Calvin

      You didn't listen to his town hall. Quit lying and making things up.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • pace-it

      It was covered live in the video section of this web page. Na-Na-Na,Na,Na.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  19. Sy2502

    LOL, Mormons complaining of OTHER PEOPLE's bigotry? Hello pot, I am the kettle!

    January 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  20. JiminTX

    Mormonism is not a religion. It's a cult.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Mike K

      All religions are cults. Atheism is a cult. Get over it.

      cult – noun
      1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
      4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Void

      Atheism is not a religion. It has not tenets.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Mike K

      But atheism IS a cult, as they are a group bound together by their dedication to the belief that there is no god.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Pat

      You're wrong Mike K. Atheists do not believe there is no God. Atheists just don't believe in God. Do you understand the difference?

      January 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
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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.