PRINCETON, NJ — Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, are the most conservative major religious group in the nation, with 59% identifying as conservative, 31% as moderate and 8% as liberals.
The ideological leanings of Mormons have become more interesting in recent years due to Mormon positions on the moral issue of same-sex marriage. Mormon efforts in support of California’s successful November 2008 Proposition 8—which limited legal marriage to opposite-sex couples—have notably been the subject of intense media attention.
“The 49% of Mormons who identify as both Conservative and Republican is the highest of any major religious group, significantly larger than the 31% of Protestants/other non-Catholic Christians who can be so categorized.”
Although Mormons are assumed to be conservative, their relatively small numbers in the United States—about 1.7% of the adult population ages 18 and older in Gallup tracking—makes survey analysis difficult. routine of their political and ideological leanings. Gallup’s large database of daily tracking interviews helps bring together enough Americans who identify as Mormons to perform meaningful analysis. The current analysis of Mormon ideology is based on more than 350,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted in 2009, including 5,819 interviews with Mormons.
The 59% of Mormons who identify as conservative is the highest percentage of any major religious group included in this analysis. The next most conservative group are Protestants (including non-Catholic Christians), with 46% identifying as Conservative. (This review does not include analysis of the specific denominations into which Protestants can be subdivided; there are hundreds of them.) Thirty-nine percent of Catholics are Conservative. Less than a quarter of Jews, Muslims, those who identify with other religions and those who do not have a religious identity identify as conservative.
Mormon conservatism is also apparent from an examination of the more detailed self-categorization of ideology included in Gallup’s Daily Tracking.
The 16% of Mormons who consider themselves very conservative are the highest percentage of all major religious groups, while the 1% who are “very liberal” are the lowest.
A recent Gallup analysis showed that Mormons have the highest percentage of identification with the Republican Party of any major religious group.
It’s no surprise, then, that the 49% of Mormons who identify as both conservative and Republican are the highest of all major religious groups, significantly larger than the 31% of Protestants/other non-Christians. Catholics who can be so categorized. .
Active and Fallen Mormons
Seventy-nine percent of Mormons attend religious services weekly, nearly weekly, or monthly. This compares to 53% of the overall US adult population who frequent this frequently. Self-reported church attendance by Mormons is the highest of all major religious groups used in this analysis.
The 20% of those who identify as Mormons and who, at the same time, report rarely or never attending church can be classified as “inactive Mormons”. (It is assumed that there are others in America who were raised as Mormons but who today either have a different religious identity or no religious identity at all. They are not included in this analysis.) defined here is the fact that these people continue to identify with the Mormon faith despite their religious inactivity.
The data shows that these fallen Mormons have a significantly different ideology than their fellow Mormons who remain active in the church (as defined by church service attendance). In fact, Fallen Mormons are essentially no different from any other non-Mormons in terms of core ideology.
As can be seen in the accompanying graph, removing one-fifth of Mormons who have lost their faith from the overall sample of Mormons leaves an even more conservative group of active Mormons. Almost two-thirds of the latter group identify as conservatives.
Fallen Mormons are also more like all other non-Mormon Americans than active Mormons in terms of party/ideology categorization.
Mormons living in Utah versus those living elsewhere
Gallup data from 2009 shows that 34% of adult Mormons live in Utah. Utah became the main center for Latter-day Saints when the group led by Brigham Young fled west in the 1840s after persecution in New York, Missouri, and Illinois. The headquarters of the Mormon Church remains today in Salt Lake City.
However, the fact that a Mormon lives in Utah does not seem to make a significant difference in his ideology. The percentage of Mormons living in Utah who are Conservative is little different from the percentage Conservative among Mormons living elsewhere in the United States.
Interestingly, Mormons living outside of Utah are slightly less likely to attend church frequently than Mormons living in Utah. The first group, however, still reports church attendance significantly above the American average.
Mormons are both the most Republican and the most conservative of all major religious groups in the United States today.
The findings are based on telephone interviews with 353,845 national adults, ages 18 and older, conducted in 2009, as part of the Gallup Daily tracker. For results based on the total national adult sample, it can be said with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point. The results for Americans who identify as Mormons are based on telephone interviews with 5,819 domestic adults, ages 18 and older, conducted in 2009. For results based on the Mormon sample, it can be said with a 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landlines and cell phones.
In addition to sampling error, the wording of questions and the practical difficulties of conducting surveys can introduce errors or biases into the results of public opinion polls.