2012 Pew Report:Mormons in America, Part 3 — Religious Devotion

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The 2012 Pew Forum study on Mormons in America reports that the religious devotion of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is very high. Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and 97 percent say their church is a Christian religion. Public perception of the Church of Jesus Christ shows almost exactly the opposite, as found in other studies — 32 percent of non-LDS U.S. adults say the LDS Church is not a Christian religion, and an additional 17 percent are unsure of LDS Christianity. Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, and they consider themselves to be Christian.

"For the vast majority of Latter-day Saints surveyed, those life choices have much to do with their religious beliefs. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents indicate that religion is "very important" to them, 83 percent say they pray every day and 77 percent say they attend church at least once a week. Beyond that, a stunning 69 percent of respondents fit all three descriptions, saying that religion is very important to them, that they pray every day and that they go to church every week." [1]
""By this measure," the report says, "Mormons exhibit higher levels of religious commitment than many other religious groups, including white evangelical Christians."

As has been shown in other previous studies, the higher the education of the Mormon, the more active in the Church the person is. This is the opposite of nearly all other religions, where the more educated tend to be more skeptical. "The more educated a Mormon is, the more likely they are to be wholehearted in their commitment to the church and its teachings." However, like virtually all faiths, more women than men are committed to the faith, 73 percent vs. 65 percent.

The report showed that a strong testimony that the primitive church of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fulness is the foundation of being a committed Mormon. This necessitates the belief that Joseph Smith actually saw a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ, and that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, the actual record of a real people. These testimonies are gained through spiritual experiences that anchor the person in the faith.

"According to the respondents, in order to be a good Mormon it is "essential" to believe Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ (80 percent), work to help the poor (73 percent), hold regular family home evenings (51 percent), not drink coffee and tea (49 percent) and not watch R-rated movies (32 percent).
"Combining those who said "essential" with those who said "important but not essential," the order changes a little bit: working to help the poor (97 percent), holding regular family home evenings (96 percent), believing Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ (93 percent), not drinking coffee and tea (81 percent) and not watching R-rated movies (79 percent).

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they hold a current Temple Recommend enabling them to make higher covenants in Mormon Temples. Seventy-nine percent of respondents pay 10 percent of their income in tithing to the LDS Church.

"Fully 91 percent of college graduates say they pay tithing … compared with 66 percent of those with a high school diploma or less education. And among those whose family income exceeds $30,000, 83 percent say they pay tithing, compared with 69 percent of those with incomes of less than $30,000." [2]

Some of the 1,000 or so of the respondents have served missions — 43 percent of men and 11 percent of women — this varied significantly according to the age and education of the respondent, as well as whether or not the respondent was raised Mormon. Sixty-two percent of the respondents keep an emergency food storage, as counseled by LDS Church leaders.

Previous studies have shown that 90 percent of Mormons believe in God, 91 percent believe the Bible is the word of God and 98 percent believe in life after death. This new Pew report shows that Mormons proved to be unified and believing in those doctrines that are unique to the LDS Church.

"They believe overwhelmingly that God and Jesus Christ are separate physical beings (94 percent), that the president of the LDS Church is a prophet of God (94 percent), that families can be bound together eternally in temple ceremonies (95 percent) and that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets and translated by Joseph Smith (91 percent)."
"Overall, 77 percent say they believe "wholeheartedly" in all of the teachings of the LDS Church. That number increases to 82 percent among Mormons ages 18-49, and to 85 percent among Mormons who are college graduates."

Michael Otterson, LDS Church Spokesman, said that, "Meanwhile, we welcome the friendship and regard of all groups, even as we retain our commitment to a unique identity. In the end ... Latter-day Saints will strive to be good Mormons, true believers, kind neighbors and faithful friends."

*To read the full 5-article Deseret News series on the Pew Forum Report, go to Mormons in America

Go to 2012 Pew Report:Mormons in America, Part 4

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