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Posted on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

Mormons: What do they think about their life in America?

By Wayne Baker

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week, Dr. Baker is discussing what has been called the “Mormon moment” in America, what Mormons think and believe, and how they believe other Americans perceive them.

0130 Latter day Saints Conference Center in Utah.jpg

Americans may think of the soaring towers of the Salt Lake Temple as the signature architecture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City is a head-turning landmark as well. Completed in 2000, the center is reportedly the largest theater-style auditorium ever built. It’s now a popular venue for hearing the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, backed up by the church’s massive pipe organ.

Mitt Romney’s bid for a presidential nomination is a visible element of what has been called the "Mormon moment" in America: the rising prominence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in national politics, media and the arts, as well as the portrayal of Mormons on Broadway and television. This prompted the Pew Research Center to sponsor a survey of American Mormons, focusing on what Mormons say about themselves and their perceptions of what other Americans think of them.

Here are some key findings from Pew’s survey: Almost two-thirds of Mormons (62 percent) say other Americans know nothing or only little about their church. About half Mormons (46 percent) say that there's a lot of discrimination against them. And, more than two-thirds of Mormons (68 percent) say that other Americans don’t think of Mormonism as part of mainstream American society.

However, more than six of 10 (63 percent) believe that the acceptance of their church is rising in America. And, a clear majority (56 p ercent) of Mormons feels that the U.S. is ready for a Mormon president.

Earlier on, I predicted that Mitt Romney will be Obama’s opponent in November. I called a Romney-Obama contest the matchup of the century and, no matter who wins, a political and moral watershed in American politics and society. This matchup is one of the top five values-related topics that I predicted will dominant the media, public discourse and dinner-table conversations this year.

For now, what do you think of the findings I presented today?

If you are a member of the LDS church, tell us what you think.

Do the survey findings repesent YOUR views?

If you are not part of the LDS church, does the survey reflect your attitudes?

Each day this week on
, I'll introduce new findings from the Pew survey. Mormons in America was also the topic of yesterday’s in-person dialog in the small-group session I am leading on Civil Discourse. In a sense, we’'re continuing our small-group dialog by expanding it to the online community. (Read about our kickoff of this in-person effort in last week’s column.)

Please add a comment below,

and "like" us on Facebook!

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.


Robert Gordon

Sun, Mar 11, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I cannot verify the poll results above but can relate to them. Often times, in my travels in the military, people will say, "You are the first Mormon I have ever met." The next question, of course, has something to do with polygamy. This is amazing to me because people who have never met someone from a particular religion already have preconceived notions of their religious practices. This I rate near the top of the ignorance scale.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

Dr. Baker, the survey accurately indicates it is not likely that many mainstream LDS will feel inclined to exchange commentary with the "Bertha Venation" crowd... pearls before swine, and all that. Most members are happy to discuss issues and answer questions, but not with mental knuckle draggers.

Robert Gordon

Sun, Mar 11, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

Mental knuckle draggers...I love it.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

I don't understand why the guys have to wear those bloomers. Whatzup w/dat?

Robert Gordon

Sun, Mar 11, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Religious garments are part of most major religions. All have one thing in common, they are sacred and very important to the individual who wears them.