2012 Pew Report:Mormons in America, Part 5 — Mormons say Polygamy is Morally Wrong

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Mormon morality polygamy

The Deseret News posted a five-part series in January 2012 on the Pew Forum's study called Mormons in America. In the Pew study, Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) were questioned regarding their attitudes on faith, their beliefs, social issues, and even polygamy. "Polygamy" is the first word that pops into the minds of many Americans when they are asked what they know about Mormons.

"Ironically, the practice that's most linked to Mormons is a practice most Mormons oppose, according to a groundbreaking new study of Mormons in America released Thursday by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life." [1]

Only 2 percent of Mormons interviewed for the Pew study said polygamy is acceptable.

How Mormons Feel about Drinking

Mormons take a significant stand on issues of morality. Mormons are only slightly more opposed to divorce than the general public on moral terms, showing that Mormons don't consider divorce immoral, only lamentable. "There is theological space for divorce within Mormonism. It is undesirable, but Mormons recognize it is sometimes necessary and sometimes the right thing to do." [2]

Fifty-four percent of Mormons said drinking alcohol is morally wrong, compared with 15 percent of the general American public. This idea derives from the Mormon law of health, received by revelation to Joseph Smith, the first prophet of modern times, and called the Word of Wisdom. Abstaining from alcohol often sets Mormons apart and makes them noticeable. "Mormons like to use the phrase, 'Be in the world but not of the world.' They are certainly living their lives in the world. They are active and involved in their communities, but they have these beliefs and practices that set them apart a little bit, and sometimes there is conflict." [3]

How Mormons Feel about Homosexuality

Mormons' view on homosexuality — "26 percent said homosexuality should be accepted, 65 percent said it should be discouraged — puts Mormons as the least likely to say homosexuality should be accepted by society. But a 26 percent acceptance rate, with roughly 1 in 4 Mormons saying homosexuality should be accepted, might be surprisingly high to some." Some of those who said homosexuality should be accepted identify themselves as political conservatives.

The view of the Church is that homosexual tendencies are not sinful, and that homosexuals should have equal rights except marriage. All sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage, defined as the legal union of a man and a woman, is considered sinful.

How Mormons Feel about Polygamy

Polygamy was practiced by Mormons for about fifty years, following a revelation to Joseph Smith to begin the practice and ending with another revelation to prophet Wilford Woodruff in 1890 to end it. In the scriptures the Lord has said that the practice is only moral when overseen directly by Him through prophets of God.

In the Pew survey, "86 percent said polygamy is morally wrong." Part of the problem is that polygamous groups are claiming to be Mormon, when they are not associated in any way with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is difficult to explain this difference to the American population, so real Mormons tend to be radically against polygamy as a form of self-defense and in defense of their real identity — to disassociate themselves from these radical, cultish groups.

*Go to Deseret News' 5-Part Series: Mormons in America

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