The Mormons: The Most Conservative Religious Group In America

The Atlantic/July 24, 2009

That's according to a new report from Pew, released today and based on data from the group's 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.

More Mormons (60 percent) identify themselves as conservatives than any other religious group; they also lead every other group in GOP party identification (at 65 percent)-much higher than the general population in both categories. Here are a few of Pew's charts to break it down:

Ideology of the general population in the United States is 37% conservative.

Ideology of the Mormon population is 60% conservative.

The general population is 35% Republican.

The Mormon population is 65% Republican.

Keep in mind that GOP identification is very low right now-only 35 percent of the general population identify themselves as Republicans-making the Mormon numbers even higher by comparison. Evangelicals, for instance-a group that has, for the past decade, been counted as an influential Republican voting bloc-identify with the GOP at a 50 percent rate, a full 15 percent lower than Mormons.

The only group that's more partisan is members of historically black churches, according to Pew, 77 percent of whom identify themselves as Democrats. (Though that's more of a racial subset of a religious category, than it is a religious category in its own right.)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mormons are much more socially conservative than both the general population and other groups: 70 percent say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, compared to 42 percent of the general population and 35 percent for Evangelicals. 68 percent say homosexuality should be discouraged, rather than accepted-that's in line with evangelicals (64 percent) and Muslims (61 percent)-hence the LDS church's involvement in Prop. 8-but lower than the general population, 40 percent of which shares that opinion.

Mormons make up 1.7 percent of the nation; 35 percent of them live in Utah. In that regard, one could say they're overrepresented in the national political elite, as both Mitt Romney and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are Mormons. Numbers-wise, Mormons aren't a huge voting bloc-but, as we saw with Prop 8, they can be politically powerful: supporters of the gay marriage ban estimated in October that Mormons had donated 30 to 40 percent of the $25.5 million raised to back it; estimated that figure at 77 percent.

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