Last week, the Pew Research Center released their 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Comparing the results with their 2007 study, we Mormons find many things to cheer about, but there are also some clunkers. Here are a few findings comparing ourselves with ourselves, and where we rank in comparison with eleven other religious traditions.

Beliefs

  • The percentage of us claiming absolutely certain belief in God is down 4 percentage points to 86 compared to 90 in 2007. Fourth place behind Jehovah’s Witnesses (90), historically black Protestants (89), and evangelical Protestants (88). Jews by comparison come in at 37.
  • Religion is very important in our lives: 84, up 1 point. Third place. Catholics score 58, mainline Protestants 53.
  • Belief in heaven: 95, no change from 2007. First place.
  • Belief in hell: 62, up 3. Fifth place.

Perhaps if the last item had been phrased as outer darkness where Satan will dwell, then the heaven-hell beliefs would match up. Symmetrical opposition in all things, you know.

Practices

  • Pray at least daily: 85, up 3. Second place.
  • Read scriptures at least once a week: up 1 point to 77. Second place.
  • Attend religious services at least once a week: 77, up 1. Second place. Mainline Protestants score 33; evangelicals 58.
  • Participate in prayer, scripture study or religious education groups at least once a week: 71, up 7. Second place.
  • Meditate at least once a week: 60, up 4. Third place behind JW’s and Buddhists.
  • Feel spiritual peace and well being at least once a week: 81, up 10. Second place.
  • Believe there are clear standards for right and wrong: 57, not asked in 2007. Tied for first.

On the positive side, the vast majority of us pray, attend Church, and read scriptures. On the negative side, I think some of the Mormon sample gave socially acceptable answers. Do we really have 77% attendance at sacrament meetings in America? Don’t think so. And if only 57% believe there are clear standards for right and wrong, are there that many people sleeping in Gospel Doctrine classes?

Issues

  • Size of government: 75% of us want smaller government and fewer services, up a whopping 19 points, while 22% want bigger government and more services, down 14.
  • Abortion illegal in all or most cases: 70. Second place. Legal in all or most cases: 27. No change from 2007.
  • Homosexuality should be accepted in society: 36, up 12. Should be discouraged: 57, down 11. Second highest opposition. Buddhists, Jews, and Nones are top three in favor.
  • Favor same-sex marriage: 26, not asked in 2007. Second lowest.

Why a quarter of our members still favor same-sex marriage when it has been so specifically denounced by our prophets and apostles is puzzling. Is MINO too harsh a label? (Mormon in Name Only)

The 12-point increase in homosexuality acceptance among Mormons has received considerable attention in the media. But the question phrasing is imprecise. To some, the word homosexuality means a state of same-sex attraction, while to others it means homosexual behavior. The Church has made a strong distinction on this point. Same-sex attraction is not a sin; acting on the attraction is.

[Note to Pew Research: next time split the question into two parts and use the terms attraction and behavior.]

Demographics

  • College graduates or post grad degrees: 33. Sixth place.
  • Income over $50K: 53. Fifth place.
  • Republican: 70, up 10. First place.
  • Democrat: 19, down 3. Next to last place.
  • Conservative Ideology: up 1 to 61. First place.
  • Liberal ideology: 9, down 1. Last place.
  • Married: 66. First place.
  • Parent of children under 18: 41. First place.

Right in the middle on education and income. Leading the pack on family matters. Strong ratios favoring the right side of the political and ideological spectrums.

Thanks to Pew Research for conducting over 35,000 interviews to give us these insights. More findings at: https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/

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Gary Lawrence is a political pollster and the author of “The War in Heaven Continues; Satan’s Tactics to Destroy You, Christianity, the Family, the Constitution, and America.”