Episode 10: The Pew Forum Portrait of Mormons in the US

In this Episode John Larsen is joined by regular panelists Tom, James and Nyal to discuss the statistical findings of the Pew Forum Portrait of Mormons in the US released on July 24th, 2009. The Pew paper can be found at http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=427.

Episode 10

36 comments on “Episode 10: The Pew Forum Portrait of Mormons in the US”

  1. Luigi Reply

    I am skeptical about the 1.6% of Americans saying they are Mormon and wonder if there isn’t some response bias creating this rather large percentage (ie people who were more religious and/or raised in religious upbringing were more inclined to participate in the survey and not just hang up).

    I am actually not surprised at the relatively high activity rate of 75% as this would seem about right for those who would consider themselves Mormon. 50% activity is probably what you would observe among those who are actually baptized LDS.

    To some extent I am not surprised at the high response of belief among Mormons. This goes back to the whole trained response of “I know the Church is true”. Most members give such responses and in fact the temple interview trains such responses. I find most members if you really corner them and know them well will admit to having insecurities about their beliefs-but because Mormonism does so much to encourage people to hide that you aren’t going to get someone to that point of sincere honesty in a 30 minute phone survey.

    I’m not sure if the LDS Church Almanac has a breakdown of US membership by convert versus BIC but if it did it would be interesting to see if this aligns with the Pew’s estimates of 75% BIC and 25% convert since I know the international conference stats are generally flipped (about 70% converts and 30% BIC) and this might hint to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the 1.6% estimate.

  2. Luigi Reply

    I am skeptical about the 1.6% of Americans saying they are Mormon and wonder if there isn’t some response bias creating this rather large percentage (ie people who were more religious and/or raised in religious upbringing were more inclined to participate in the survey and not just hang up).

    I am actually not surprised at the relatively high activity rate of 75% as this would seem about right for those who would consider themselves Mormon. 50% activity is probably what you would observe among those who are actually baptized LDS.

    To some extent I am not surprised at the high response of belief among Mormons. This goes back to the whole trained response of “I know the Church is true”. Most members give such responses and in fact the temple interview trains such responses. I find most members if you really corner them and know them well will admit to having insecurities about their beliefs-but because Mormonism does so much to encourage people to hide that you aren’t going to get someone to that point of sincere honesty in a 30 minute phone survey.

    I’m not sure if the LDS Church Almanac has a breakdown of US membership by convert versus BIC but if it did it would be interesting to see if this aligns with the Pew’s estimates of 75% BIC and 25% convert since I know the international conference stats are generally flipped (about 70% converts and 30% BIC) and this might hint to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the 1.6% estimate.

  3. Me_My_Zelph_and_I Reply

    I really like Nyal! Keep it up Nyal because you make me want to listen to this program.

  4. Me_My_Zelph_and_I Reply

    I really like Nyal! Keep it up Nyal because you make me want to listen to this program.

  5. InvisibleChurch Reply

    Thanks for another great podcast. I think this one veered a little closer to standard mormon/exmormon stereotypes than other ones you’ve done (you’ve avoided that prior to this) but what the heck…it was still very enjoyable! Thanks.

  6. Swearing Elder Reply

    What could have been a very interesting academic discussion and examination of Mormonism devolved at times into a bunch of chums sitting around shooting the shit and getting off topic. Ya’ll are obviously very comfortable with each other, which is a good thing, but I’d save some of the banter for the green room.

  7. Swearing Elder Reply

    What could have been a very interesting academic discussion and examination of Mormonism devolved at times into a bunch of chums sitting around shooting the shit and getting off topic. Ya’ll are obviously very comfortable with each other, which is a good thing, but I’d save some of the banter for the green room.

  8. Walt Reply

    I enjoyed the “banter” in this episode, it made some very dry statistics almost bearable to listen to. Nyal you make me laugh – God having an “existential crisis” – LOL!

  9. Walt Reply

    I enjoyed the “banter” in this episode, it made some very dry statistics almost bearable to listen to. Nyal you make me laugh – God having an “existential crisis” – LOL!

  10. Some Schmo Reply

    This podcast cracked me up at times. Please continue to be “chums sitting around shooting the shit and getting off topic.” That’s what made this one of my faorites so far.

  11. Some Schmo Reply

    This podcast cracked me up at times. Please continue to be “chums sitting around shooting the shit and getting off topic.” That’s what made this one of my faorites so far.

  12. Vin Reply

    I wonder at some of the interpretations of data, e.g. “Are there absolute standards of right and wrong?”

    I’d say that, yes, there are, but even a prophet might fall short of comprehending them completely, and furthermore, that doesn’t mean I believe that we should attempt to implement a religiously-based standard in a pluralistic society.

    Another example: evolution. The way the Pew question was worded didn’t seem to leave room for the respondent to reply, “Yeah, I accept evolution, but I think that God’s hand was behind the whole process, hence I’ll have to say ‘no'”.

  13. mantisdolphin Reply

    Nyal, just for the record, in some support of your “billions of wives” in the afterlife comment that John and Tom got onto you about during the Pew survey podcast:

    Watcher at the RFM board (Apr 08 11:14) posted the following:

    On 2/21/02 in the “Salt Lake Tribune”, Will Bagley provided this 1860 quote by Brigham Young:

    “I shall have wives and children by the million, and glory, and riches and power and dominion, and kingdom after kingdom, and reign triumphantly.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, page 178)

  14. mantisdolphin Reply

    Nyal, just for the record, in some support of your “billions of wives” in the afterlife comment that John and Tom got onto you about during the Pew survey podcast:

    Watcher at the RFM board (Apr 08 11:14) posted the following:

    On 2/21/02 in the “Salt Lake Tribune”, Will Bagley provided this 1860 quote by Brigham Young:

    “I shall have wives and children by the million, and glory, and riches and power and dominion, and kingdom after kingdom, and reign triumphantly.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, page 178)

  15. Alex Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to talk about this, I feel fervently about it and I enjoy learning about this topic. Please, as you gain data, please add to this blog with more information. I have found it extremely useful..

  16. Alex Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to talk about this, I feel fervently about it and I enjoy learning about this topic. Please, as you gain data, please add to this blog with more information. I have found it extremely useful..

  17. Oz Poof Reply

    Charles, I’m glad you have found happiness and become your authentic self. Thank you for sharing. Thanks Heather for another great interview.

    I too fasted so often that I was sent to a doctor who questioned me about drugs like speed and whether I had an aversion to food. I told him I was fasting for an answer to prayers. He said he was an atheist, but thought if there was a God he would surely be aware of my questions and not be standing back watching me starve myself. At the time I wasn’t open to hear that, but now I see how silly it is to pray and fast to change what I can’t change and shouldn’t have to.

    Crazypants! 

  18. Kris Fielding Reply

    I listened to this at work with my headphones and every time I heard Crazypants I would giggle. People think you are crazypants when you giggle uncontrollably, I can tell you. Crazypants.

  19. ward jensen Reply

    great interview!  really enjoyed listening to you Charles!   What a kind gentle voice!  I too liked the crazypants comments!  Mormonexpression and mormonstories have changed my attitudes about homosexuallity around 180 degrees!  The church gave me a terrible attitude and now I totally okay with other being who they are.  I am convinced it is not a choice and the church needs to get on board with that.  Obviously they do not talk to any higher authority or they would know that and a lot more.  30 years from now they will change the policy and then claim that they did not think to ask until then!   Last one out turn off the lights!

  20. thayne Reply

    Really enjoyed this Voices. Charles shared a great perspective of the church over a long period, giving me a real sense of things as they are and as they used to be.

  21. DefyGravity Reply

    This was fantastic. Can I tell you how happy it made me that you didn’t accept the letter for the church court. That’s the best response to that I’ve ever heard! There’s no reason anyone should put up with that crap. It can be harassment, and it’s fantastic that you called them out it! Seriously, if I ever get in that situation, I’m so doing that!

  22. Emily Proctor Reply

    Okay, sorry, can’t figure out how to delete my comment to fix it….uh, ignore this junk comment..

  23. Amy Evans Reply

    I die! I cannot believe how you just said everything I feel about the Church/temple. I just went through the temple a couple months ago and I feel like a total sinner because I openly admit that it was not AMAZING or BEAUTIFUL. I was honestly freaked out. I was crying because I felt so uncomfortable. I felt small and insignificant compared to my husband to be. I do not understand the symbolism of the veil and why he can know things I cannot. I thought going back would make it easier and more understandable, but it didn’t. No! I did not want hug my family and my fiance in the celestial room. I wanted to get the hell out! I feel like an awful person because I feel like I am the only person within the people I associate with who has these worries and concerns. All of my friends who have been through just told me how beautiful it was and how amazing it was. I couldn’t see it. My husband does not quite understand it, but I don’t really understand the rage I have either.. I wish I could understand it.

    • Stephanie Lauritzen Reply

      I don’t know why it is so hard, and you aren’t alone. But you aren’t an awful person for thinking it is hard. You are also not awful if the temple just isn’t your thing. There are lots of great things about Mormonism, that are also very feminist friendly, I might add. 🙂

    • alancrist Reply

      I’m sorry about your experience, Amy.  My wife had a similar experience, and I couldn’t understand what her problem was.  Now, 20 years later, we’re still together.  I think Stephanie articulated very well some of the reasons why it hits women so much harder than men.

      I don’t know you, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the rage you’re feeling doesn’t come something about you that’s bad.  To the contrary, it comes from a part of you that is VERY GOOD.  You’ve noticed something that has created serious dissonance for you, something that doesn’t seem right, something that’s inconsistent with how things should be.  Many people either ignore them or hope they’ll go away, but that’s no way to live.

      Eventually, you’ll make sense of it in some way or another.  Right now though, I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.

  24. Amber Price Reply

    As I listened I kept saying ‘YES!’  The ‘fairness’ stuff resonated with me deeply.  My mom still likes to poke fun about how I think everything needs to be fair- I love the explanation of the difference between fairness and justice.  Describes how I feel.  I felt a kindred spirit in you while listening to this.  I also have a husband who will probably always be Mormon. Although I’ve got four daughters and navigating this is a difficult road.  I hope we can meet sometime.  🙂 

  25. alancrist Reply

    Stephanie, I’m listening to you talk about your daughter, and I’m really feeling for your situation.  We had 4 girls, and had we had 4 boys, it might have been harder for us to get out.  Seeing the 2nd class status given the girls compared to their boy counterparts, where the only real recognition they get is for looking pretty and being submissive, is a real trip once you wake up and start noticing how prevalent it is.  As aware as you are of feminist issues, I think it’s going to be very tough for you to have your daughter attend, especially when she comes focused on going to the temple and having babies.

  26. Furtwangler Reply

    This was very fascinating. I was a teenager (in the O’Bryant family) in the Payson ward where Charles attended. I remember hanging out with his son (Ryan?). I heard about Charles’ departure from the church, but never really got the whole story until now.
    Glad to hear you are doing well.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *