September 30, 2016

6 facts about U.S. Mormons

Twice each year, in April and October, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds its General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. These conferences – which are open to all members of the LDS church and are broadcast around the world – offer Mormons an opportunity to hear their leaders speak on a host of topics.

As the next conference gets underway this weekend, here are six facts about U.S. Mormons from Pew Research Center surveys:

1The LDS church typically places very high importance on families and traditional gender roles. Indeed, 81% of Mormons say being a good parent is one of the most important things in life. And 73% say the same about having a successful marriage. By comparison, half of all U.S. adults say being a good parent is one of the most important things in life, and only one-third say having a successful marriage is of utmost importance. Additionally, 58% of Mormons say a marriage where the husband provides and the wife stays at home is preferable to one in which both spouses have jobs. Among the general public, most people (62%) express the opposite view, saying a marriage in which both spouses have jobs and take responsibility for housework and child rearing is more satisfying. At this fall’s pre-conference session specifically for Mormon women, participants were urged to defend the church’s teachings on marriage, family and sexuality.

2While nearly all Mormons consider themselves Christian (97%), only about half (51%) of U.S. adults say Mormonism is a Christian religion, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center report. When asked to volunteer the one word that best describes Mormons, the most common response from Mormons surveyed was “Christian” or “Christ-centered” (17%), and an additional 5% volunteered “Jesus.” The most commonly offered response by non-Mormons was “cult.”

3Among all Christian religious traditions in the U.S., Mormons are among the most highly involved in their congregations (67%), according to an analysis based on three measures of congregational involvement: membership in a congregation, frequency of attendance at worship services and frequency of attendance at small group religious activities. Jehovah’s Witnesses have comparable levels of highly involved members (64%), while evangelical Protestants (43%), members of historically black Protestant denominations (41%) and those in other Christian groups have lower average levels of congregational involvement. In addition, our Religious Landscape Study found that Mormons are among the groups most likely to believe the Bible is the word of God (91%), pray daily (85%), say religion is very important in their lives (84%) and read scripture regularly (77%).

4A number of tenets central to the teachings of the LDS church and widely held by Mormons are not shared by other Christian traditions, our 2011 survey found. Nine-in-ten Mormons believe that the president of the LDS church is a prophet of God (94%) and that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets (91%). Large majorities of Mormons believe that families can be bound together eternally in temple ceremonies (95%) and that God the Father and Jesus Christ are separate, physical beings (94%).

5Mormons are among the most politically and socially conservative religious groups in the U.S. For example, two-thirds of Mormons say they oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, and seven-in-ten say they think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to the 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study. And most Mormons (69% in 2016) identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, though the share who do so has edged downward in recent years.

6Mormons are relatively young and less diverse when compared with other Christian groups, and they are younger than the U.S. population as a whole. The median age of U.S. Mormons is 43, while the median age of the general population is 46. As a religious group, they also are much less racially and ethnically diverse than the U.S. population as a whole, with fully 85% of U.S. Mormons identifying as non-Hispanic white.

Topics: Religion and Society, Lifestyle, Household and Family Structure, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Mormons and Mormonism

  1. Photo of Aleksandra Sandstrom

    is a copy editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Becka A. Alper

    is a research associate focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Anonymous10 months ago

    One piece of data is misleading. While it’s true that 80 percent of Mormons identify as white within the US, there are MORE Mormons OUTSIDE of the US than inside of it. So the actual ethnicity Of Mormons worldwide is way more diverse. It’s an international church.

    1. Anonymous10 months ago

      What other area of the world are documented to have Mormons?

  2. Anonymous10 months ago

    Thank you for your straightforward presentation of our beliefs and church activity.

  3. Anonymous10 months ago

    Did anyone ask if the people interviewed believed in polygamy?

    1. Aleksandra Sandstrom10 months ago

      The 2011 survey asked about the morality of polygamy. From the report:
      “Polygamy was officially banned by the LDS Church in 1890, and the survey finds little acceptance of polygamy among Mormons. Nearly nine-in-ten (86%) say it is morally wrong, 11% of Mormons say polygamy is not a moral issue and 2% say it is morally acceptable.”

  4. Anonymous10 months ago

    General conference is broadcast all over the world and are open to everyone, not just members.

  5. Anonymous10 months ago

    America is paying the price today for national ignorance about the Church of Latter Day Saints. W.Mitt Romney would have been a wonderful President. I weep for what voters so casually threw away out of ignorance, believing Mormonism is a cult. What America might have been under Romney leadership–compared to what we got with Barack Obama. It is a crushing mistake seen in hindsight and we are not likely to recover. Just look at what we are reduced to as a choice in November!

  6. Anonymous10 months ago

    Interesting LDS poll highest in believing the bible to be the word of God yet are deemed by all other Christians to be a cult. Sad.

    1. Donald Price10 months ago

      But they also have a number of bizarre beliefs outside of biblical teachings. Romney was a good man and would have made an excellent president regardless of being Mormon. Everyone interested in Mormon history ought to read Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer. Southpark also did an episode on Mormonism illustrating the bizarre beliefs held by the faithful, and the true and dark nature of Joseph Smith. Having been raised around Mormons, I have found most just enjoy the fraternity and family values expressed by the cult, and don’t care that it is based on nonsense.

      1. Anonymous10 months ago

        This is very offensive and hurtful language to many of us, who believe sincerely in the tenets of the LDS faith. We are not bungling idiots without teeth on a remote farm compound. Many of us are leaders in our specialties, give large amounts of time and means in service, are highly educated, and are civically-engaged. Please avoid such hurtful language.

  7. Anonymous10 months ago

    Thanks for a factual report that shows neither bias no judgement of the items you’ve reported. This is so tremendously rare in today’s journalistic world. “Just the facts, Mam”. 🙂 Truly: thank you.

  8. Malcolm McLean10 months ago

    Can you say something about your sampling methods, please?

    There may be reason to believe that when you say that X% of Mormons believe Y or do Z you are talking about what Mormons would term “active” members, or “committed” members.

    Since it seems that about 60 % of Mormons in the US (and higher percentages outside the US) do not attend church regularly, your figures may reflect only the most dedicated 5-6 million of the total number of Mormons (about 15 million worldwide).… says:

    ‘ In the “Vital Statistics” article of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Dr. Tim Heaton cites internal church data:
    “Attendance at sacrament meeting varies substantially. Canada, the South Pacific, and the United States average between 40 percent and 50 percent. Europe and Africa average about 35 percent. Asia and Latin America have weekly attendance rates of about 25 percent.” ‘

    1. Anonymous10 months ago

      Malcom, you pose a great question. I would assume though that the Pew researchers would have used the same sampling methods for the Mormons as they did for the Catholics, or the other denominations sampled. Thus making the comparison valid in spite of whatever sampling method may have been used.

    2. Anonymous10 months ago

      I feel this is accurate as many of those who no longer attend meetings and do not agree with the core beliefs of the Mormon Church, also no longer identify themselves as “Mormon” at all. So why would their beliefs be lumped in to actual practicing and identifying Mormons?

    3. Becka A. Alper10 months ago

      Thanks for your question. Both our 2011 survey of Mormons and the Religious Landscape Study used the following two questions to determine whether a respondent was Mormon: “What is your present religion, if any? Are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox such as Greek or Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, something else, or nothing in particular?” And, “Which of the following Mormon churches, if any, do you identify with most closely? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Community of Christ, or some other church?” In the 2011 survey, those who described themselves as Mormons in response to the first question were then administered the main survey, while the interview was discontinued for non-Mormons. Since the Religious Landscape Study was designed to survey all U.S. adults, the survey was continued regardless of respondents’ religious affiliation. You can view the full methodology for the 2011 survey here:… and for the Religious Landscape Study here:….

  9. Anonymous10 months ago

    Item 6 is incomplete because it totally omits the diversity of the LDS Church among the 9 million members outside the US. That includes over a million in Mexico, a million in Brazil, and millions more in South and Central America; a million in Asia and the Pacific, including 1/3 of the population of Tonga; and a half million in Africa, with temples in Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa. The General Conference meetings will be broadcast via satellite and the internet to congregations worldwide with simultaneous translation into over 90 languages. The predominant language of Mormons is Spanish.

    Another fact that shows the cultural diversity of the Mormons is the fact that young men and women volunteer for two years of full time missionary service, supported by their savings and their families, including learning a new language and serving in 125 nations. Currently there are about 75,000 such missionaries serving, along with thousands more retired couples who apply their professional experience in medicine, engineering, law practice, education, and other fields.

    1. Anonymous10 months ago

      The title of this article is “6 Facts About U.S. Mormons” — so any discussion of international Mormons is off topic.

      1. Sergio Roa10 months ago

        We are a world wide church, not only an american church

  10. Anonymous10 months ago

    Two Mormon young men knocked on my door and witnessed to me. I asked them what they believed and found they knew little about Christianity and less about Joseph Smith. I asked them whom did JS say appeared to him. The leader answered, God. I asked what did Scripture say about a human who looked directly at God. He said he didn’t know. I replied, he would be instantly consumed. I informed them of the New Testament and its testimony about Jesus. I asked if they believed they would rule a world with a harem of wives. One answered, “I hope so”. I related that the Scripture informs us that there is neither male nor female in heaven. The leader stood and announced they needed to meet with someone and excused the two of them. I invited them to come for another visit. They made no response.
    The Mormon faith is not Christian in any sense and like most Christian cults they know little about Jesus. Scripture says we must obey the Word of God if we are to know him and he is to know us. Without calling upon the name of Jesus for salvation, one cannot receive the blessings that follow profession. Jesus is Lord and the only person who merits our worship because he is the only unblemished sacrifice. If we love others, we must witness the Truth to them no matter who threatens or denounces us. MB

    1. Anonymous10 months ago

      Anonymous, thanks for your kind treatment towards two young men doing their best to love their neighbor as they feel appropriate. I assure you that Mormons absolutely call upon the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. It is the most basic and fundamental tenet of Mormonism. Furthermore we (Mormons) believe that without the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we cannot return to live in his presence after this life.
      It is true that there are some ambitious souls in every religion whose eagerness extends beyond their understanding. I do not judge this harshly, as expression of one’s faith is certainly the best way to grow that faith. It is rather unfortunate that you judged all of Mormonism on one interaction with two young men under the age of 25. Certainly you understand that as we advance in years, so too do we advance in wisdom and knowledge. I would welcome you to take another look at the similarities Mormons may have with your beliefs. I bet they are many.

    2. Anonymous10 months ago

      It seems strange that any professing Christian would denigrate another Christian’s faith, just because they worship Christ differently. In the end, there is one God and there is one Lord, and we spend a lifetime learning about them, understanding their teachings, and emulating their example.

    3. Anonymous10 months ago

      I am not a biblical scholar, but I do have a long time education in my religion, Roman Catholic. I recognize what you said as true, except…

      ” Without calling upon the name of Jesus for salvation, one cannot receive the blessings that follow profession.”

      I do not recall this in the gospels. Can you give a citation for it?