05/25/2012 - With a Mormon, Mitt Romney, running for president and a musical about Mormons playing on Broadway, there is a heightened awareness of the religion in the United States, and the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life recently issued a major survey of those who practice it.
Mormons say their religion is increasingly being accepted by other Americans, even as a majority of them believe they have been misunderstood and discriminated against because of their beliefs, according to the Forum’s report, Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in Society. The study was the first of its kind produced by a research organization not associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to the survey, 62 percent of the more than 1,000 church members polled in October and November 2011 said the American people are uninformed about Mormonism, and 46 percent said Mormons face a lot of discrimination. Yet most saw more acceptance of the religion, with 63 percent saying Americans are becoming more likely to see the faith as part of mainstream society. More than half—56 percent—of those surveyed said Americans are ready for a Mormon president.
The survey also deeply probed how Mormons view their faith. Respondents were nearly unanimous in describing their church as a Christian religion—97 percent expressed that view—and when asked to volunteer the one word that best describes Mormons, the most common response from those surveyed was “Christian” or “Christ-centered.”
That is marked contrast to non-Mormons: A November 2011 Pew Research Center survey found that one-third of non-Mormon U.S. adults said the faith is not a Christian religion, and an additional 17 percent were unsure whether Mormonism is Christian. In an open-ended question asking what one word best describes the Mormon religion, the most commonly offered response was “cult.”
Mormons place a high priority on family life. Large majorities in the Forum survey said being a good parent (81 percent) and having a successful marriage (73 percent) are among their most important goals in life, far surpassing the numbers in the general public who said the same.
To read the full survey, go www.pewforum.org.