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. c

    St.Alamo says
    They do accept other religions and races. They are just not a worldly or soulful equals in the scheme of godmanship.
    – Yes, I am a Morman from SL, UT. I can speak for those who whould glue somones eyes shut, but they must have brought it upon themselves some how. We are a peaceful religious body.

    Let's see; they're are not "worldly; yet the Morman Church and many of them individually amass fortunes almost a large as the Federal gov. I don't know what your definition of worldly is ; but there are no poor raggedy hungry Mormans.
    So you think a person who has their eyes glued shut; must deserve it and they are not "soulfull equals" You say you are a "peacefull Morman. who are these people you speak for who would glue somebody'y eyes shut and why would anybody glue somebodys eyes shut. So Mormans think people are not "soulful equals". This 'godsmanship" of which you speak must be some of Joseph Smith & Brigham Young's BS.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Angel

      I lived in SL UT and don't give me BS about how you are a "peaceful religion". Tell that to the 8 year old Catholic girl you kidnapped from her parents so you could take her to your WARD and try to brainwash her against her parents and their "evils", oh wait I mean tell that to me.....

      January 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  2. JMBrown

    I grew up next door to a Mormon family. I played with the children. I even went to church functions with them once in a while. Believe me, they are a cult. A narrow minded, intolerant cult. A Mormon becoming president scares the crap out of me.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • claybigsby

      most all religions are cults

      January 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Angel

      Growing up in Utah as a non-mormon you are 100% right!!

      January 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  3. Pat

    At some point, people have to say "enough is enough" with religion and stop calling it bigotry. I'm sorry, but if somebody insists on believing all these crazy religious ideas, and I develop a low opinion of that person, it's not bigotry. They're no different from the nutjob standing on a milk crate in Times Square ranting about the end of the world. Nobody calls you a bigot when you call that guy crazy.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  4. Brian

    I'm a Mormon and have never experienced any serious discrimination or bigotry when dealing with anybody face to face. In fact, I get along well with all my associates. Granted, I get annoyed when journalists, and especially so-called Christian ministers, try to claim that they know who I am and what I believe better than I do myself, (as evidenced by this comment forum).

    January 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Scott from NH

      Out of curiosity, what state do you live in? I suspect that you see quite a bit less prejudice being Mormon (or Jewish, Black, Muslim, Lesbian, etc.) in some places than others.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Brian

      Columbus Ohio, and I agree with you.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • c

      Question: real Morman- If Moroni was the angel who guided Joseph Smith to Palmyra NY to dig up the Book of Morman; why is this Moroni not mentioned in the any Christian Bible.

      Question: Why do Mormans engage in the practice of baptising dead people; when it is not mentioned in the Christian Bible:
      * Mormans got this thing called baptism by proxy; during which unbaptised dead relatives can have someone stand in for them at this elaborate ceremony in this temple in Utah.

      Question: Morman history teaches that the Jaredites, Lamanite's etc inhabited early America; why is this not mentioned in story of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock; the 13 colonies, Revolutionary war and whole bunch of American history.

      Question: in his Book Doctrines and Discourse J Smith states that he was told by this Moroni or Morman ( I forget which) to translate this gold book from hieroglyphics ( which is the Egyptian language) to English; how did Smith do this when he didn't speak egyptian) Oh right; Moroni popped it into his head.
      question: In his book First Vision; Smtih wrote that he used thes "seer stones": (he later called them Urim & Thummin) to locate these golden plates; so if this revelation was divinely inspired why did he need the "peep" stones to find this thing.
      Mormans are good decent people; but you have some fundamental flaws in your religion Your support of numerous "worldy issue's. ie. gays rights. finance, commerce, is cause to debate; and we have a right to ask questions. Y

      January 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  5. inTheDogHouse

    "Just think what might have been if he wouldn't have gone to the Mormon Church." Have you ever had this said about you?

    January 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  6. PizzaWolf

    to actually comment on the topic of the article. the article seem to reflect accuratly what i have seen in my experience. its also kindof ironic that evangelicals and mormons seem so similar in these statistics.

    as a kid and growing up, i was afraid to let everyone know i was a Latter Day Saint. Even through High School, i was afraid of what everyone else would think of me. And once i started getting over that fear it was confirmed...if i had a nickel for everyone who's made a comment about having multipul wives...or people who "met the missionaries once" which makes them die experten on mormons....yeahhhhh...

    yep...you're right...i'm in the market for a few wives, but i dont want to spend too much...where can i buy them in bulk?

    yup...i have my goat sacrifices on wendsdays...ummm...evenings, its less traditional, but more convenient.

    why yes, i must have been mistaken about my believing in christ as my savior. you're research has unveiled to me that i actually dont believe in christ, my mistake.

    and i die a little inside when someone says "you know that show...Big Love?"

    sorry for the cynicism, i am lucky today that i am not being killed for my personal beliefs today, as we were 180 years ago.

    BUT there is a flip side to the coin...as some have pointed out there are alot of non-mormons in Utah and The Mormon Belt...that feel discriminated against. and they are. the church's social support and groups are very much centered around church activities...and non-mormons out there tend to be looked down on for not holding to "social norms"
    i wonder what the statistics are in that regaurd

    January 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      I am a Pagan in America in the state I live we make up nearly 1% of the population. Mormons, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims all have it in writting they should kill me. So if your looking for religious discrimination in America look for the Shaman or Pagan peoples who live in the U.S. We are so singled out it is hard for anyone who is not a panthiest to even know what I am talking about.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • grafixer

      Frankly, we all feel "prejudice" these days in America. If you aren't professing to be a Christian, many will tell you point blank that you are going to that "firey place below." Businesses have prayer meetings, and if you don't participate, well... don't for a moment believe that there is not a prejudice amongst the workers, and that it won't effect your chances for promotion or a raise. Even football teams are touting their religious quarterbacks and holding prayer meetings – ASKING GOT TO HELP THEM WIN A GAME! There is prejudice on all sides – and there are many sides. It is sad that Americans, in this century, feel as though – ANYONE THAT DOESN'T BELIEVE WHAT I DO IS WRONG. Narrow. Bigoted. Ignorant... And Growing. The politicians take grand advantage of this and use it to create deep division within our country. It disgusts me.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  7. Pagan2012

    Boo hoo hoo, the mormons feel the bite of discrimination. And yet when it comes to the heavy handed manner in which they infiltrated politics in order to pass California's Prop 8, they choose to turn a blind eye and not acknowledge that they are just as bigoted as the bigots who commit acts of bigotry against them. Forget the Freemasons, the conspiracy theorists should be focusing all of their energies on the New World Order that the mormon church is trying to create. Fortunately Romney doesn't stand a snowball's chance in Hades against Obama, and the republicants are too emotionally invested in family values and the creation of a christian sharia state to see that Huntsman is the most intelligent and best candidate for their party.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • PizzaWolf

      you know the article states that huntsman is an attending mormon...right?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Pagan2012

      Thank you Pizza Wolf. Sometimes brevity has its disadvantages in that my train of thought is not thoroughly explained. You are quite right, Huntsman and Romney are both Mormons. Of the two, Huntsman is less pretty, but far more intelligent in his responses when he is actually given a chance to throw out his 2 cents in a debate. I much prefer watching one on one interviews with Huntsman because he actually is given a chance to express his opinion which, in more cases than Romney, actually makes sense. My point in the first part being that Mormons are no different than any other monotheistic religion. They discriminate just as much as the evangelicals, muslims or jews and therefore should not be whining. My second point being that regardless of a person's religious background, Mormon or not, Huntsman is still the best candidate for the Republican party. Even I, who gets a vile, repugnant taste in my mouth every time a political candidate starts talking religion, can see past the hypocrisy and see that Huntsman is the best candidate for the Republican party. In most cases I actually like what he has to say better than Obama.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  8. dave

    I never have nor will vote for obama but if romney is the nom i will be sitting out the gen election. In 2016 the republican party should nom a scientologist and be consistent.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  9. vel

    Considering that the LDS/Mormons aren't any sillier than the other Christians, the intolerance show for Mormons by other sects is amusing. They all think their version of their invisible friend is the only "right" one, with no more evidence than the next theist, be they Christian, Muslim, Jew, Wicca, etc. AS for the evangelizing, everyone wants to get people for their "team", and the waste of time and resources is sad. So much for any one true "faith". It's just about external validation and power.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Kinetic

      I have nothing against Mormons and truly feel they can believe whatever they want to believe. However, when a Mormon claims to believe in the same thing as Catholics and Protestants when they actually do not, that to me is wrong.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • wade

      At least Mormons aren't cutting people's heads off who won't convert, or molesting children and covering it up. When was the last time whatever group you identify yourself with paid someone's rent or fed someone who was hungry? It's not all about conversion.

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

      @Wade – Mormons are known for molesting children through the vehicle of youthful involuntary brides. A long history of that in fact.

      And BTW, I have paid someone's rent, fed others when they were hungry, cared for them when they've been sick and much much more. I will continue to do so regardless of that person's beliefs as that behavior is an outgrowth of my beliefs, not theirs.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  10. Ben

    Mormons are not christians. Christians believe in one god with no other gods before him. Mormons believe that god was created by and continues to worship super god and that when they die they will be made into gods themselves and given their own universe to rule over.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • vel

      the good ol' OneTrueChristian claim. A varian of the "no true scotsman" fallacy. I wonder, would any Christians of any sect take me up on a challenge to have altars set up and see which one of you gets your god to answer? Elijah and this god had no trouble with such a contest.

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

      That's funny, I've been a member of the Church for quite some time and have yet to get offered my own universe whey I die. Where do you people get your information from, Bill Maher or John Stewart? May God help you

      January 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Paul Wilson

      I think the main reason why fundamentalist Christians reject the Mormons as "heretics" is that the Mormons do not believe in an eternal hell. Tho the book of Mormon, tho a dull,stilted, tedious fantasy about an advanced civilization in America, talks of eternal torment for all unbelievers, the later books by Smith (Pearl of Great Price, D & C, the books of Abraham, etc.) make hell purgatorial rather than punitive and that all souls will eventually be saved, tho at different levels. The fundamentalists try to keep as many people OUT of heaven as they can, on trifling technicalities.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Lance

      Who owns the term 'Christian'? You? Just because Mormons don't buy into the Nicean creed and pastors are threatened by their proselyting away their income doesn't mean they aren't Christian. Silly as the Mormon religion may be viewed from an outside perspective it's no sillier than your own beliefs.
      Though I should also say to the Mormons disclaiming that Mormon doctrine does not teach men can become as god I think that is dishonest. Having been raised Mormon I was always taught that the objective and purpose of this earthly existence was to test and try us on our progressive journey towards becoming like God.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  11. Justin Case

    If you're being harassed as a Mormon and you need to be relocated for your own safety.... do they have a Jehovah's Witness Protection Program you can join?

    January 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • PizzaWolf


      January 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  12. sohail

    Western civilisation, freedom of speech and religion, but then this bigotry. Majority of Americans still call Mormons a cult with a sign of sarcasm when come up in a discussion . I think we should stop this bigotry and respect Mormons for whatever they believe in.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Ex-Teaparty-r

      I disagree!

      Mormonism is a cult and Flip Flopney probably has 5 other wives and 20 children!

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

      every religion is a cult....there no bigotry or discrimination.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  13. David Johnson

    Mormons: Pray the sinners prayer. Ask Jesus into your heart.

    I'm not discriminating, I just want you to know Jesus and be saved.


    January 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Ben

      Mormons do believe in Jesus but they do not pray to him. They believe Jesus was transformed into a god because he was so faithful just as all mormons can if they are found worthy. So for a mormon, praying to Jesus is no different from praying to your dead grandfather who is also a god.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  14. Elliot

    They tried to baptise me when I was 16 and volnerable and in love with a mormon girl and her parents took advantage of that. They knew my mind was cloudy with this girl and would have done anything. I took part in the classes that the elders do, I believe there was like 5 or 6 of them then on the final day they brought over 6 elders from the church, it seemed like some of them were pretty high up in the church. They cornered me in the room and made it seem like I had to get baptised, when I told them I was a happy catholic and I just wanted to do the classes to be nice they were unhappy. They tried even harder to push it on me, trying to trick me into setting a baptism date. Finally I couldn't handle it anymore broke up with my girlfriend and went our seperate ways. When I was in college 120 miles away the same missionary found me in my dorm and wanted to talk to me. I do discriminate against this kind of behavior, who wouldn't?

    January 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Is it a sin if you get biological stains in your magic underwear?

      Curious Jehovah Witness

      January 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • mulehead

      David Johnson – As a VERY happy free-thinker and ex-Witness, I don't know if i'd be hurling such stones at a Mormon were I in your shoes – the 'Brothers' from the Watchtower may find out who you are and have you disfellowshipped. Thankfully the spread of JW lies have not reached the scale the Mormons are currently enjoying.

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

      I SO understand what you are saying. That is the part that never gets out about these people. I lived in UT for most of my childhood and was raised Catholic (no longer follow these weirdos either) and when they were not successful converting my parents I was kidnapped and taken to one of their wards and told stories of how awful my parents were and how I should stay with them. Luckily even at a young age I knew how ridiculous these people were and demanded to be taken back to my parents. I have at least a 50 plus more stories just like this. The pushiness, the hate directed at you when your "not one of them" and that is not even getting into their ridiculous dogma, Anyone who would choose to take part in this cult will NEVER get my vote. They are equal with the KKK in my opinion.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Paul Wilson

      Around 1964 or so,. I was visited by Mormon missionaries because I signed their guestbook in the Mormon pavilion at the New York World's Fair. They gave me a copy of the book of Mormon which I still have (tho it is tedious and stilted) and tried to set a date for baptism. I did some research and found I could not reconcile their veiw of family planning with mine (Mormons are encouraged to have very large families). I wrote to ask them to not make ANY further attempts to convert me. Fortunantly they heeded that warning.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  15. jmh181

    I can tell you that as a Mormon I never experienced any bigotry, discrimination or hate as a result of my former faith. I can tell you that as a gay man and and an ex-mormon I feel discrimination and hate from the Mormon church hidden beind religion and "doctrine".

    January 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • vmd56

      Spend some time in Utah as a non mormon and you will find out what discrimnation is all about. As far as moromon's are concerned "Gentiles" are not on the same level as mormons and are treated as thus. I cannot believe anyone would consider having a member of this group lead our country

      January 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  16. test

    "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."

    If this doesn't scream BS i don't know what does.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • PS192

      ...to continue...
      and the virgin Mary gave birth to a child in the desert (she probably had to lie about it. Getting pregnant when un-wed was a problem then too.)
      and on the 3rd day he rose from the dead (really? Sounds fishy huh?)
      and he walked on water (what, without skis?)
      an on and on and on....

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

      The reason why Christian religions don't generally view Mormonism favorably is not that they don't both believe Jesus rose from the dead. They both do. However, unlike ALL other Christian religions that view Jesus as God and Christians as under Jesus, Mormons view Jesus as an equal with themselves. I.e. any Mormon male is fully the brother of and equal to Jesus. To most Christians that is considered heretical.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Paul claimed that 300 people saw the resurrected Jesus. He did not bother to write down names, so all we have is Paul's word for this. *sigh*

      So, b.s. occurs in every religion.



      January 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Bizarre

      David Johnson,

      Actually, super salesman, Paul, claimed "over 500" witnesses in his ad campaign for his New and Improved Judaism.

      I'm not sure how many tents Paul sold in his day, but he sure hit it big with this endeavor. Same for Joseph Smith, who obviously took a few tips from Paul's strategy.

      We have more restraints on truth in advertising for Billy Mays and the ShamWow guy and such, than were ever imposed on Paul and ol' Joe.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  17. Angel

    Try living in Utah for 5 plus years when your NOT a Mormon, especially when your a small child. Bigotry, hate, discrimanation, these CULT members EXCEL at these things as much as the KKK did! I would rather not have a President than have one of these brainwashed hate-mongers!!

    January 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Paul Wilson

      Well, I am not a Mormon. Glad of that, too. I do have a copy of the book of Mormon -and find it stilted and tedious.

      I am Brunvald lives in Salt Lake City and does research on Urban Legends. He stresses that he is not a Mormon. He just lives there.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  18. Elliot

    Well people don't really find door to door salesmen appealing.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Frank a

      very funny!

      January 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Paul Wilson

      You forgot the comma bet "well" and "people". making this slightly absurd. I am not sick, but I do not want any Witnesses or Mormons, Adventists, Moslems, Catholics, etc., making a call at my stoop and trying to convert me either.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  19. Levi

    The feeling of persecution is, I think, mostly residual. There was a time when being Mormon came at a great cost, but today, my neighbors and co-workers are accepting and even interested. On the whole, I think being a Mormon is more often an advantage in the workplace, than a disadvantage.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Blinded by the Light

      Do you believe in everything associated with Mormanism, or are you following it by necessity (family pressure, etc...).

      January 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It still comes at a great cost
      Specifically, 10% of your income.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  20. clarke

    They need not feel alone, I think everyone feels that way at some time.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:22 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.