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|Mormons in the Pew Report|
Feb. 25th, 2008 at 6:41 pm
A long time ago, I wrote a post discussing, in part, the Pew Forum’s John Green, whose presentation at the Princeton symposium compared Mormonism to other religious traditions in America using the top secret intelligence about faith in America that organization has been gathering for at least nine hundred years.
You will all, I am sure, be as pumped as I to learn that (the first part) of the Pew Report is now available.
You can see a general summary of the report, along with links to the full text, here. The United States is 78% Christian, and 51% Protestant, half of whom are evangelicals. Catholics make up nearly one-quarter of Americans. The remainder of America’s Christians are Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, and at 1.6% Mormon. The Mormons are the largest of these small Christian groups.
More detailed information, including profiles and summaries of individual faith traditions, can be found here.
I imagine you’ll all first go right to the Mormons, so I’ll expound a bit on what’s there.
There are some surprises. The Mormons, for example, are not clearly the best educated religious tradition in America; it’s even close among Christian faiths. Mormons are clearly more likely than other traditions to have attended some college; however, they’re in the middle of the pack when it comes to actual graduates, and are easily outclassed among the ranks of those who have gone on to post-graduate education. Mormons are below the national average there, trailing mainline Protestants among others.
Additionally, Mormonism has among the most striking gender disparity of any faith tradition in America. 56% of Mormons are women, higher than any tradition other than Jehovah’s Witnesses and historically black Protestant churches. Now, the gender imbalance is a problem that has plagued all Christian traditions for centuries, at least (Jonathan Edwards complained about it during the First Great Awakening). That is persists in Mormonism can, perhaps, be ascribed to Mormonism’s continuing status as a somewhat counter-cultural, marginal sect – a status that the more unsurprising statistics demonstrate.
For example, Mormons share with Orthodox Jews, Hindus and Jehovah’s Witnesses the distinction of fewest members living in an unmarried relationship with a partner. Auspicious, and interesting, company. The Mormon marriage rate is higher than all but Hindus as well. Similarly, Mormons have edged – barely – the Catholics for the largest families in America, even with our internal declining birthrates.
What do we learn from this? In many ways Mormons are on the cultural margins of American religion and life. The Romney campaign sparked a lot of talk about assimilation; however, that concept is a highway with many lanes. We’re further along on some, not so far along on others. And that, I think, is to a great extent our own choice.