Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pew Research: Views of Mormons and Mormonism

From section 2 of "Public Expresses Mixed Views of Islam, Mormonism
Benedict XVI Viewed Favorably But Faulted on Religious Outreach"

Released: September 25, 2007

Views of Mormons and Mormonism

Overall, a slim majority of the public (53%) expresses a favorable view of Mormons, while 27% view Mormons unfavorably. Among religious groups, solid majorities of white mainline Protestants (62%) and white non-Hispanic Catholics (59%) express favorable opinions of Mormons. But among white evangelical Protestants, just 46% have a positive impression of Mormons, while 39% have an unfavorable opinion.

There also are substantial educational differences in opinions about Mormons: 64% of college graduates express favorable opinions of Mormons, as do 56% of those with some college experience. But fewer than half of those with a high school education or less (45%) have a positive impression of Mormons.

About three-in-ten (31%) of those who express favorable opinions of Mormons cite personal experience as the biggest influence on their opinions, but a fairly large proportion of those with negative opinions of Mormons (23%) also point to their personal experiences as being most influential.

A slim majority of the public (52%) says that Mormonism is a Christian religion, while nearly one-in-three (31%) say that Mormonism is not a Christian religion. White evangelicals stand out for their view that the Mormon religion is not Christian: a 45% plurality says that Mormonism is not Christian, while 40% say it is. Among white evangelicals who attend services at least weekly, 52% believe that the Mormon religion is not Christian.

By contrast, large majorities of white mainline Protestants (62%) and white non-Hispanic Catholics (59%) say that Mormons are Christians. In addition, those with no formal religious affiliation also say that the Mormon religion is Christian by a wide margin (59%-25%).

Even though a slim majority of the public views Mormonism as a Christian religion, most Americans say it is very different from their own religion. Among non-Mormons who express a religious preference (most of whom are Christians themselves), more than six-in-ten (62%) say that Mormonism and their own religion are very different; just a quarter says that Mormonism and their own religion have a lot in common. The vast majority of white evangelical Protestants (67%) reject the idea that Mormonism and their own religion have a lot in common, as do smaller majorities of white mainline Protestants (56%) and white non-Hispanic Catholics (61%).

Mormonism in a Word

When asked to describe their impression of the Mormon religion in a single word, somewhat more offer a negative word than a positive one (27% vs. 23%); 19% give a neutral descriptor. The most common negative word expressed is "polygamy," including "bigamy" or some other reference to plural marriage (75 total responses), followed by "cult" (57 total mentions).

But while many people associate polygamy with Mormonism, nearly as many think of "family" or "family values" (74 total mentions). Other positive words commonly used to describe Mormonism include "dedicated" (34 mentions), "devout" or "devoted" (32 mentions), "good" (31 mentions), and "faith" or "faithful" (25 total mentions).

Familiarity with Mormonism and Mormons

Overall, the public's level of self-reported familiarity with Mormonism and Mormons is not much greater than its level of familiarity with Islam and Muslims. Roughly half (49%) say they know a great deal or some about the Mormon religion and its practices, while about as many people (48%) say that they know someone who is Mormon. (By comparison, 41% have at least some knowledge of Islam and 45% say they know a Muslim.)

As might be expected, people in the Western part of the United States have more contact and greater familiarity with Mormons than do people in other parts of the country. Fully 74% of those in the West say they know a Mormon, compared with fewer than half in other regions. In addition, 66% of Westerners say they know a great deal or some about the Mormon religion, also a much higher proportion than among residents of other regions. Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants show somewhat greater familiarity with Mormons and Mormonism, compared with white mainline Protestants, white non-Hispanic Catholics, and the religiously unaffiliated.

Just as knowing a Muslim is associated with positive views of Muslims and Islam, having an acquaintance who is Mormon is linked with more positive opinions of Mormons and Mormonism. The large majority of those who know a Mormon (60%) express a favorable view of Mormons, compared with fewer than half (44%) of those who do not personally know a Mormon. And those who are acquainted with a Mormon are 11 points more likely than others to say that Mormonism and their own religion have a lot in common.

But compared with knowing someone who is Mormon, one's view of whether or not Mormonism is a Christian religion has a much greater impact on overall opinions of Mormons. Among non-Mormons who see Mormons as Christian, more than two-thirds (68%) express a favorable view of Mormons, twice as many as among those who say Mormonism is not a Christian religion (34%). Equally striking, fully 42% of those who believe the Mormon religion is not Christian say they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon for president; among those who believe Mormonism is a Christian religion, just 16% express reluctance about supporting a Mormon.

1 comment:

Bot said...

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion This article helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity's comprehension of baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

• Baptism: .

Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified.
The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them.

• The Trinity: .

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration?

The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one."

Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God. " . The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

• The Deity of Jesus Christ

Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless.

• The Cross and Christ’s Atonement: .

The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

• Definition of “Christian”: .

But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.

It’s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

• The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church:

The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this:

"There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.)

Martin Luther had similar thoughts: "Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,...unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation."

He also wrote: "I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among
those who should have preserved it."

The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession.

* * *
• Christ-Like Lives:

The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):

Attend Religious Services weekly
Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life – extremely important
Believes in life after death
Believes in psychics or fortune-tellers
Has taught religious education classes
Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline
Sabbath Observance
Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith
Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily
Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen (very supportive)
Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality
LDS Evangelical
71% 55%
52 28
76 62
0 5
42 28
68 22
67 40

72 56
50 19

65 26

84 35