Pew Religion Survey

The Pew Forum on Religion and Society has just published the results of a poll with 35,000 American respondents.

That’s a lot of respondents and will be a treasure trove of information. Such a large sample size will allow analysts to study various religious subgroups with reasonable sample size.

Here is the first tidbit: Pew found that 1.7% of the respondents identified as Mormons. Extrapolating that number, rough and dirty, to a total population of 300 million Americans would mean that there are more than 5.1 million Mormons in the United States.

In reality, of course, one would have to be more careful since Pew only polled adults. Looking at the data about family size would allow us to arrive at a more precise estimate. 5.1 million Mormons is probably not too far off the precise figure.

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10 Responses

  1. aerin says:

    In 2000 census, only around 2.1 million Americans identified themselves as “LDS/Mormon”.

    Another thing to think about is whether or not they only polled people with land phone lines, typically older adults.

    Even still, very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Allison says:

    Actually, the U.S. Census hasn’t asked a religion question since 1957 (due to church/state concerns. You must be getting that 2.1 million number from somewhere else.

    Also, the survey explains that they did poll 500 people with cell phones only, and that there were no differences in religious affiliation between those cases and the full sample.

    If you read further in the report, there is a section on retention of childhood adherents — interesting.

  3. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    Interesting? in light of the bias of tscc towards PR, inflated egos? Why/How would or could this be interesting?
    the ‘real’ measure would be satisfaction, partly measured by attendance activity, etc… But we know how much the leaders care about satisfaction, don’t we?

  4. madhousewife says:

    the ‘real’ measure would be satisfaction, partly measured by attendance activity, etc

    I should think the real measure would be how scarred you felt by a particular denomination.

    Facetiousness aside, some people consider themselves indelibly Mormon (or Catholic or Jewish or whatever) regardless of their degree of activity or belief.

  5. aerin says:

    Interesting because that this is what I have been asking for some time now – an independent body publishing statistics about the growth or membership in the U.S.

    What my question is, again, why would people not self-identify as LDS on the census, but statistically a higher percentage identifies as LDS with this study?

    If 3 million people converted to mormonism in the past 8 years in the U.S., I think we would know about it (through LDS and non LDS sources).

  6. There are some interesting numbers in the report. In Chapter 2 of the study it shows that 70% of those who reported being raised Mormon are still Mormon. This compares favorably with the average (56.5%).

    Of those who are no longer Mormon, 15% reported changing to a new religious affiliation and 14% reported no religious affiliation. The latter category includes atheists, agnostics, secular non-affiliated, and religious non-affiliated.

    We had a discussion recently on whether or not former Mormons are more likely than mainstream Christians who leave the faith to become non-believers. Among those raised in Protestantism, 7% reported joining a non-Protestant group and 13% reported having no religion. According to this survey, former Mormons are less likely to be unaffiliated with religion than former Protestants. The reverse was true for Catholics.

    The study’s website is fascinating.

  7. Hellmut says:

    Here are a couple of fascinating tidbits:

    • Among people who are married, nearly four-in-ten (37%) are married to a spouse with a different religious affiliation. (This figure includes Protestants who are married to another Protestant from a different denominational family, such as a Baptist who is married to a Methodist.) Hindus and Mormons are the most likely to be married (78% and 71%, respectively) and to be married to someone of the same religion (90% and 83%, respectively).
    • Mormons and Muslims are the groups with the largest families; more than one-in-five Mormon adults and 15% of Muslim adults in the U.S. have three or more children living at home.

  8. dpc says:

    Aerin said:

    What my question is, again, why would people not self-identify as LDS on the census, but statistically a higher percentage identifies as LDS with this study?

    Census forms are generally filled out by the individual who must self-identify. A lot of people don’t take the time to fill out certain sections or don’t take it seriously.

  9. Hellmut says:

    As Allison (#2) has already pointed out, the US Census does not collect data on religion.

  10. aerin says:

    FYI – My apologies. Not sure why I was confused that religion was a census question – even in a smaller sample. Sorry for any confusion I might have caused.

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