This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Mormons are a fairly stable, even predictable, batch of believers.
They are just as religiously committed, as prayerful, as convinced that God is a person and that heaven exists as they were in 2007.
In the intervening years, however, Latter-day Saints have grown much more accepting of homosexuality, from 24 percent to 36 percent, according to the Pew Research Center's just-released 2014 Religious Landscape Study, though the majority still opposes same-sex marriage by a wide margin (68 percent to 26 percent).
They also have become, overall, even more Republican.
A smaller percentage of Mormons (42 percent) believe that humans evolved over time than the two-thirds of Catholics (66 percent) and mainline Protestants (65 percent) who do. By contrast, two-thirds of Jehovah's Witnesses and a little more than half of evangelical Protestants reject this view, saying humans have always existed in their present form.
The extensive survey offers a fascinating glimpse into the religious life of American nonbelievers and believers, their practices, affiliations and changing views as they relate to wider society.
It polled more than 35,000 Americans of every religious affiliation as well as independent individuals about their beliefs in God, government, heaven, hell, morals and institutions. It asked many of the same questions on a similar questionnaire seven years earlier, plus a few new ones.
Of those, 664 were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the findings on that specific faith have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Unsurprisingly, the survey found that "the religiously unaffiliated (also called the 'nones') now account for 23 percent of the adult population, up from 16 percent in 2007" a trend noted in other surveys.
Not all religious "nones" are "nonbelievers," the Pew poll discovered. "In fact, the majority of Americans without a religious affiliation say they believe in God."
Still, the vast majority of Americans claim some religious affiliation including "a wide variety of Protestants as well as Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and adherents of other faith traditions" and they are "on the whole, just as religiously committed today as when the study was first conducted in 2007."
They continue to pray, attend weekly services, find solace in their faith, read their religious texts and find meaning in their lives.
By some measures, Americans are becoming "more spiritual," the poll reports.
"About six in 10 adults now say they regularly feel a deep sense of 'spiritual peace and well-being,' up 7 percentage points since 2007. And 46 percent of Americans say they experience a deep sense of 'wonder about the universe' at least once a week, also up 7 points over the same period."
Here are some of survey's other findings regarding the Utah-based LDS Church:
Spiritual peace • About 80 percent of Mormons and three-quarters of those in the evangelical and historically black Protestant traditions say they experience "a deep sense of spiritual peace at least once a week."
Weekly attendance • Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons report "the highest levels of [weekly] attendance" at worship services 85 percent for Witnesses; 77 percent of Mormons.
Role of churches • Latter-day Saints had the highest estimation of the part religious institutions and churches play in society. Ninety-seven percent say these groups "bring people together and strengthen community bonds." Another 94 percent say those groups "play an important role in helping the poor and needy, and 92 percent say they protect and strengthen morality in society."
Hell • Only 62 percent of Mormons believe in hell, up a tad from 59 percent in 2007.
Many paths • Mormons and Jehovah's Witness are fairly narrow in their views of other faiths. "Fewer than half of Mormons (40 percent, up 1 percent from 2007)," the survey reports, "and only about one in 10 Jehovah's Witnesses (8 percent) believe that many religions can lead to eternal life."
Unwed childbearing • Most Christians say "the trend toward childbearing outside marriage has been a change for the worse," especially Mormons at 82 percent. The survey concluded that "smaller majorities of mainline Protestants (58 percent) and about half of those in the historically black Protestant tradition (55 percent) and Catholics (53 percent) say this has been a negative trend." The "nones" are less likely to see it as a change for the worse, with "roughly half of religiously unaffiliated people (51 percent)" saying this trend "does not make much difference."
Political leanings • Latter-day Saints, an overwhelmingly conservative bunch, are growing even more so. In 2007, 65 percent identified themselves as either Republican or leaning Republican, with 22 percent calling themselves Democrats or tilting that way. Today, after Mormon Mitt Romney's historic, but ultimately failed, runs for the White House in 2008 and 2012, more Latter-day Saints (70 percent) favor the GOP. This makes Mormons, by far, the most reliably red religious group surveyed. In 2014, fewer than one in five (19 percent) of Latter-day Saints leaned left politically.
Immigration • Mormons find themselves again in the middle of the spectrum. "About half of evangelical Protestants (48 percent) say the growing number of immigrants has been a change for the worse, while just 17 percent view it as a change for the better," the poll says. By contrast, 42 percent of Orthodox Christians, 51 percent of Muslims and 61 percent of Hindus say "more immigrants is a change for the better." Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Latter-day Saints view the growing number of immigrants as positive, while 37 percent see it as negative.
Abortion • More than a quarter of Mormons (27 percent) believe abortion "should be legal in all or most cases," unchanged from 2007.