Mixed picture of Mormonism

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are unhappy with their image in the media. Photo: T.D. Muldoon
By on March 1, 2012

With a Mormon candidate as a frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, The Book of Mormon, a hit musical playing on Broadway, and polygamy-themed TV shows such as Big Love and Sister Wives, America is in the midst of what some have called a “Mormon moment.”

Now a new survey from the Washington-based Pew Research Center explores how adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) feel about their place in America.

The poll finds a mixed picture. Many Mormons feel they are misunderstood, discriminated against and not accepted as part of mainstream society. Yet, at the same time, a majority think that acceptance of the LDS is rising. Overwhelmingly, the poll showed, they are satisfied with their lives and content with their communities. And most say they think the country is ready to elect a Mormon president.

These are among the findings of a comprehensive survey by the Pew Research Center’s forum on religion and public life conducted with more than 1,000 Mormons across the country-the first of its kind ever published by a non-LDS research organization. Previous studies, including the Pew Forum’s 2007 U.S. religious landscape survey, have found that Mormons make up slightly less than 2% of the U.S. public.

Almost half (46%) of Mormons say there is discrimination in the U.S. against members of their faith. More than two-thirds (68%) say the American people do not see Mormonism as part of mainstream society, yet 63% say acceptance of Mormonism is on the rise. More than half (56%) feel Americans are ready to elect a Mormon president and 54% say TV and movie portrayals of Mormons hurt their public image.
Still, more Mormons (87%) than members of the U.S. general population (75%) are satisfied with their lives. More than eight in 10 (82%) report that religion is very important in their lives, versus 56% of the general public; 83% of Mormons say they pray every day and 79% donate a 10th of their earnings to the church.

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