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Pew 2011 National Survey of Mormons (2011)

Over the years, numerous polls have gauged public attitudes toward Mormons, who make up about two percent of all U.S. adults. But what do Mormons themselves think about their place in American life? With the rising prominence of members of the LDS Church in politics, popular culture and the media, do Mormons feel more secure and accepted in American society? What do they think of other religions? What do they believe, how do they practice their faith and what do they see as essential to being a good Mormon and to leading a good life?

To answer such questions, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducted the 2011 National Survey of Mormons. A report detailing the survey’s findings, “Mormons in America,” was released in January, 2012 and is available on the Forum’s website here

The study had two main goals. First, it sought to learn about Mormons’ perceptions of American society and of their own place within it at a time when Mormons and Mormonism are receiving increased attention in the news media and popular culture. Second, it sought to assess the degree to which Mormons resemble or are distinctive from the broader public in their social and political attitudes and in their religious beliefs and practices. As such, the survey included a mix of new questions specific to Mormons and Mormonism and “trend” questions that have previously been asked of the general population in Pew Research Center surveys. The development of the survey questionnaire was informed by the advice and feedback received from a panel of advisers with expertise in the study of the U.S. Mormon population.

Salt Lake City and San Francisco Surveys of Mormons, 1967-1969 (Salt Lake City Sample) (1969)

These are the first large-scale surveys of Mormons ever conducted, with or without church auspices, based upon probability samples of adult Mormon householders. As of century's end, these are the only such surveys available to the public, although the LDS Church has in recent years conducted many private surveys of its own for various purposes. Large as they are, the Mauss surveys cannot be considered representative of all Mormons everywhere, of course, even in the 1960s, but they are certainly representative of Salt Lake City Mormons then, as well as of the most highly urbanized San Francisco Mormons (and, by extension, perhaps of Mormons in similar sections of other American cities).

The questionnaire and the survey procedures were modeled in large part after those of the Glock and Stark 1964 survey of Northern California churches (which did not include Mormons). Accordingly, the 23-page questionnaire includes many items intended to measure various dimensions of religiosity; the usual demographic and social class information; the conversion experience (for converts); religious defection and reactivation; civil liberties; and attitudes toward blacks and Jews.

The nature and scope of these Mormon surveys, which used identical questionnaires, were intentionally guided by those of the Glock and Stark instrument and were carried out during the principal investigator's doctoral studies under Glock. The survey procedures in Salt Lake City were fairly straightforward and yielded data as representative for Mormons as the Glock and Stark survey was for Catholics and Protestants. However, the rationale for selecting the two Mormon wards in San Francisco, and none of the others, was that the Bay and the Mission Wards consisted disproportionately of the most "urbanized" church members (as opposed to suburban neighborhoods) -- that is, those closest to the inner-city, the apartment dwellers and the temporary residents. These two Mormon wards also included most of the ethnic minorities among Mormons in San Francisco (primarily Hispanic, Polynesian and Asian-Americans). The idea was to get as stark a contrast as possible to the Salt Lake City Mormons.

Salt Lake City and San Francisco Surveys of Mormons, 1967-1969 (San Francisco Sample) (1969)

These are the first large-scale surveys of Mormons ever conducted, with or without church auspices, based upon probability samples of adult Mormon householders. As of century's end, these are the only such surveys available to the public, although the LDS Church has in recent years conducted many private surveys of its own for various purposes. Large as they are, the Mauss surveys cannot be considered representative of all Mormons everywhere, of course, even in the 1960s, but they are certainly representative of Salt Lake City Mormons then, as well as of the most highly urbanized San Francisco Mormons (and, by extension, perhaps of Mormons in similar sections of other American cities).

The questionnaire and the survey procedures were modeled in large part after those of the Glock and Stark 1964 survey of Northern California churches (which did not include Mormons). Accordingly, the 23-page questionnaire includes many items intended to measure various dimensions of religiosity; the usual demographic and social class information; the conversion experience (for converts); religious defection and reactivation; civil liberties; and attitudes toward blacks and Jews.

The nature and scope of these Mormon surveys, which used identical questionnaires, were intentionally guided by those of the Glock and Stark instrument and were carried out during the principal investigator's doctoral studies under Glock. The survey procedures in Salt Lake City were fairly straightforward and yielded data as representative for Mormons as the Glock and Stark survey was for Catholics and Protestants. However, the rationale for selecting the two Mormon wards in San Francisco, and none of the others, was that the Bay and the Mission Wards consisted disproportionately of the most "urbanized" church members (as opposed to suburban neighborhoods) -- that is, those closest to the inner-city, the apartment dwellers and the temporary residents. These two Mormon wards also included most of the ethnic minorities among Mormons in San Francisco (primarily Hispanic, Polynesian and Asian-Americans). The idea was to get as stark a contrast as possible to the Salt Lake City Mormons.


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