Reflections on Pew’s ‘Mormons in America’ Study
In a world where we often are looking for answers to big questions, we search long and hard to find our results. In business for example, companies will spend millions of dollars doing research to find out why their competitors are doing better than they are, or one department will accuse another department of not doing their part and that is why there was failure. When all is said and done, more often than not, the answers are usually found in our own backyard, so to speak.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has been a global religion for a number of years now. Even though it is the fourth-largest religion in the United States, many here in America are just now starting to understand what it is the ‘Mormons’ believe. Ironically enough, those that are of the LDS faith are now being put in a position to more clearly understand their faith so when they are questioned, they can respond with genuineness and correctness. With the amount of attention that ‘Mormons’ are receiving, in large part because of the political landscape and very deliberate branding campaigns by the Church, getting a better understanding of the ‘Mormons’ is a very hot and trending activity.
In a new survey that has just recently been released by the Pew Research Center Forum on Religion & Public Life, ‘Mormons in America’ was presented for all to read, review, discuss and learn. The Deseret News has taken a look at what was produced and created five part series to share deeper insights.
In their first piece titled, ‘Mormons in America’ Pew survey explores beliefs, attitudes of LDS Church members, there is once again mention of the “Mormon moment,” which we read and heard about in 2011. Although some may question the timing of this survey, referencing the current Republican Presidential Campaigns taking place, this was not a survey because of or in response to politics. According to the article and a quote from Luis Lugo, who is the Pew Research Center director, their hope is “that it will contribute to a broader public understanding of Mormons and Mormonism at a time of great interest in both.”
The article shares some of the overall results surrounding four key areas: politics and ideology, religious beliefs and practices, cultural and moral issues and family life.
It seems as though the question surrounding “are Mormons Christians” has been, currently is and will continue to be one of the biggest questions that the public in general raise. It seems as though ‘Mormons’ themselves feel that awareness about their religion is on the rise and that is a good thing. For the most part when there is awareness, there are questions and with questions come learning and it seems that this new survey is falling in line with this methodology.
There is a lot of news about unemployment, broken homes, and a general unhappiness with how things are going. However, according to the survey “optimism is one of the themes to emerge from the survey relative to Latter-day Saints. Some 87 percent say they are satisfied with the way things are going in their own life, and 92 percent say their respective communities are excellent (52 percent) or good (40 percent) places to live.” This is quite impressive but should not be a surprise since the Mormons are known for their focus on the family and finding true happiness in this life. However, there seems to be some discontent with how things are going in the country as a whole.
It seems that Mormons feel very much like many other Americans, 75% and 78% respectively, about how things are going in the country; in fact the word used is dissatisfied. The article states, “You would think that their satisfaction with their personal lives would factor into their feelings about how things are going in the country, but there seems to be a total disconnect there.” It is quite interesting that Mormons can separate how they feel about their own lives and community with the country as a whole. This could speak to the importance of local congregations and their support of one another.
There will always be those that try to poke holes in research and information, especially when it is such a trendy and important topic as religion, and in this case ‘Mormons.’ However, it is evident that what has been produced will help increase awareness. Whether or not you are of the Mormon faith, this information is worth reviewing, even if at a high level. Although there are some predictable results, there may also be results that cause you to ponder how or why. If that happens, then this is a successful piece of work. I can tell you for one that the largest surprise and something I had to keep reminding myself was that this was a survey conducted of those that are of the LDS faith. When you put that into context, I think there is still some work to ensure that those that are believers, understand the principles behind their religion. To explain, every single Mormon should hold the family in high esteem; every single Mormon should be paying “tithing,” and all should hold a temple recommend.
To read more go to Mormons in America
Seth Saunders is currently branch president of the Pembroke Branch (Spanish) and a founding board member of The Pink Shoe Hero Foundation. Seth has been married 15 years to his amazing wife Amber and is the proud father of three wonderful sons.
Gale is Managing Editor for More Good Foundation. She is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.