Mormons 50% more likely to accept homosexuality than in 2007, says new Pew study

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From the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center.

(Courtesy of 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey)

From the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center.

From the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center.

From the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center.

Mormons are significantly more likely to support homosexuality than they were just seven years ago, a new Pew study reports today.

In 2007, just 24% of LDS church members said that “homosexuality should be accepted by society.”

In a 2014 follow-up survey, 36% agreed with that statement, representing a jump of twelve points.

This spike was in line with many other religious groups, which showed measurable increases of ten points (evangelicals and mainline Protestants) to fourteen points (Orthodox Christians).

However, since the Mormons started out so low initially at just 24% support in 2007, a twelve-point jump for them actually represents the sharpest spike in acceptance of homosexuality of any religious group, at 50%.

Here is how the growth in support ranked among different religions since the 2007 study:

  1. Mormons                               50.0% ↑
  2. Jehovah’s Witnesses             33.3% ↑
  3. Black Protestants                  30.7% ↑
  4. Evangelical Protestants        27.7% ↑
  5. Orthodox Christians             22.5% ↑
  6. Catholics                                 20.6% ↑
  7. Mainline Protestants            17.8% ↑

So even though Mormons are still comparatively low in their support for homosexuality – tied with evangelicals for second-lowest – they are changing more quickly than any other religious group.

The finding is particularly interesting in light of some other, apparently contradictory, revelations about Mormons from the new Pew study.

For example, Mormons are more likely than any other religious group to say they want their religion to “preserve traditional beliefs and practices” rather than adjust them to modern life. Seventy percent of Mormons felt this way, up slightly from the 2007 survey, while only 23% wanted their religion to change with the times.

From the 2014 Religious Landscape Survey, Pew Research Center.

From the 2014 Religious Landscape Survey, Pew Research Center.

The combined scores of Mormons’ preference for tradition and aversion to “adjusted beliefs and practices” made them the most change-resistant of any people surveyed.

Mormons also had the lowest levels of approval for women in the workplace, with just 49% saying that having women in the workforce has been a change for the better and 23% — the highest disapproval of any religion – saying that working women had changed society for the worse.

From the 2014 Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center.

From the 2014 Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center.

So despite the remarkably rapid growth in approval for homosexuality, Mormons are holding a very conservative line in regard to other changes.

Click here for the Salt Lake Tribune’s excellent in-depth coverage of how Mormonism fared in the Pew study, including political affiliation, church attendance rates, and views on various doctrines.


MORE RESEARCH ON MORMONS IN AMERICA:


 

  • Ben in oakland

    Maybe we could have a poll which describes the acceptability of Mormonism among conservative religious people.

  • Actually, Ben, I think _American Grace_ does something similar. They had members of different religious groups rate each other in terms of favorability, and also rank themselves.

    The bottom line seemed to be that many religious groups had unfavorable views of Mormons — not just conservatives. Liberal Protestants don’t like us much either. But Mormons really, really love ourselves. 😉

  • Joseph

    I think these statistics are a reflection of the leadership of the LDS church educating it’s members.
    I think that the church’s position to love and respect all individuals regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation has always been expressed, even during the years before blacks could recieve the Priesthood.
    Now more and more members are responding to that eduction and direction.

  • Robert Versluis

    Or maybe a poll about people from Oakland who want to read or believe anything other than the positive statistics about the acceptance of gays by Mormons.

  • Seth R.

    What the heck does “accept homosexuality” mean?

    I personally think I “accept homosexuality” and yet I’m a pretty firm gay marriage opponent. Which makes me wonder what the study is even saying.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    If what you say is true, it would seem that LDS leaders are less effective in pressing the message than the leaders of any other religions in the survey, except for those leading the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Interesting, Seth.

    Imagine someone who says they accept Mormons and love them, but they oppose legal marriages between Mormons and think it is a grievous sin to believe in Mormonism.

    Would you really think that person was truly “accepting” of Mormons?

  • Fred M

    The definition of accept is “To believe or come to recognize as valid or correct.” Therefore, “accept homosexuality” means to believe homosexuality is valid or correct. Which I am guessing you do not. But according to this survey an increasing number of members of the Church do.

    Elder Holland gave a beautiful talk in conference about an openly gay young man who was a seminary teacher. I can imagine the majority of church members would have a big problem if that young man was teaching seminary in their stake. But Elder Holland had no problem with it at all. He was promoting it as something positive. Things are changing…

  • Mike

    I see the results as a positive move in terms of acceptance for LGBT people. I certainly would not agree with Joseph who seems to be engaging in “leader love” By giving the credit to the leadership of the church. I think it has to do with people educating themselves on this topic and being exposed to different viewpoints.

  • Cerena

    We accept the person, not their homosexual practice. To me this article is misleading. We are to show love towards all. That does not change the Lord’s commandments. Marriage is between a man and a woman. The LDS Leaders have not changed this one bit. “Love the sinner, not the sin.” We welcome all, pray for all, serve all and love to share the gospel the Lord Himself restored to the earth through a young man named Joseph Smith Jr. This is His church, not man’s. Therefore the ” rules” or guidelines are His, not ours. He is not going to change His ways to fit our ways. WE change to fit His ways. Anyone that would prayerfully read The Book of Mormon will know atleast we ARE Christians.

  • Larry

    You do neither. But you don’t want to be considered a bigot by polite society. There is a social stigma to acknowledging such things you would like to avoid.

    The kind of statement you made reduces a person to their sexual orientation and use that as an excuse to treat them badly, attack their civil liberties and encourage harm against them.

    “Love the sinner, not the sin.”

    But not all sins are treated equally. Some appear to be worthy of ostracism and public sanction while others do not. In practice it amounts to hate the person, call them “sinners” and try to excuse your actions as socially acceptable.

    “The LDS Leaders have not changed this one bit.”

    Very true. They go through the motions of renouncing prior bigotry against gays while still continuing to attack them. Much like how they publicly denounce racism in public but don’t repudiate past doctrines attacking people of color.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Cerena wrote: “Love the sinner, not the sin.”

    Cerena, dear, being Gay is not a sin. But I’m pretty sure it’s a sin to use belief in God as an excuse for hate and discrimination.

  • Joseph

    Thank you for this.

  • Maddy

    “Not the sin”–is often just an excuse to treat someone unkindly.

    This is better:

    “Love the sinner,
    Because we are all sinners”
    (Mitch Mayne)

  • Ben in oakland

    I think you missed my point entirely.

    I’m ecstatic that a full 36% of Mormons now accept my right to exist and live my life as I see fit, not as they see fit, with the full rights of a citizen, a taxpayer, a law abiding, productive,and contributing member of my community.

    I was merely pointing out that a great many people have very negative opinions of Mormons, perhaps not to the death as it was175 years ago, but still, very negative. And perhaps the Mormons would do well to consider that what is sauce for the gay goose may well be sauce for the propaganda.

  • Ben in oakland

    It means that you accept gay people as your full legal, social, moral, ultralight, religious, and human equals, not people that need to be segregated out of society and its institutions.

    It means that you accept that our lives, loves, children, Families, faith, freedom and assets are every bit as important as yours, and deserve exactly the same legal protections as yours, or even those of a for icating, adulterous, thrice married former republican congressman.

  • Ben in oakland

    Not according to an awful lot of Christians.

  • ThomasT

    Do numbers matter? These statistics are useful in understanding cultural change and how successful the marketing efforts have been recently for a particular view on the subject. In fact, the poll is part of that marketing effort to say “don’t find yourself in the minority but come along with the rest of us.” The numbers reflect the emotional connection being made on the issue. What polls can never say is whether something is morally right or wrong, true or false, good or bad. The poll cannot reveal whether or not homosexual behavior is the violation of an eternal moral law, or what God’s stance on the matter is. Christ spoke about His own poll saying, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14). One can spin a poll or a scripture.

  • Larry

    Are you still hellbent on murdering every Hindu and Buddhist you know as God commands you to?

    After all the worst sin according to your “eternal moral law” is idol worship and polytheism. Allowing the presence of such people is a far worse sin and mentioned far more times in both testaments of the Bible than anything related to gays. In fact the penalty for such things has always been death and death to the family and people of the polytheist.

    People who claim to be following scripture to the letter are always full of cr@p. They use scripture as an excuse for behavior not a guide.

  • Seth R.

    Debbie, whether you agree with my position is irrelevant.

    The point was the survey question was vague, misleading, and generally useless. It allows even people you would not consider “accepting” at all to self identify as accepting. Which makes any celebration that Mormons are “coming around” on the gay marriage issue premature at best.

    It’s a bit disappointing that you were unable to determine the main point of my comment and instead want a rehash of the gay marriage debate for the bazillionth time.

  • Joel

    Seth,

    Not sure I understand the implication of the ambiguity that troubles you.

    Are you essentially suggesting that 64% of Mormons don’t even accept that homosexuality exists?

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Seth, it is you who completely misses the point.

    If someone said they accept Mormons and love them, but oppose legal marriages between Mormons and think it is a grievous sin to believe in Mormonism, you would *not* wonder whether or not they are “accepting of Mormons.”

    No! You would consider them an enemy of Mormons and “anti-Mormon.”

    This whole charade about *claiming* to “accept homosexuality” is deception base on slick semantics — semantics that you would *never* accept if the tables were turned and you and your religion were on the receiving end.

    The questions were not vague at all — except for bigots who’s heads spin when they’re asked questions that, when answered honestly, make their bigotry all too clear.

  • David P.

    I have to agree with ThomasT on this. While it may be true that more members of the church are accepting of homosexuality, the stance of the church has not changed. In 2007, if you were a member of the church and were engaged in homosexual activity, there would certainly be church discipline involved. Whether that discipline was formal probation or excommunication depending on the circumstances. If there was no chance of reconciliation on the matter than the person would be excommunicated. Now in 2015, the same results will happen even though homosexuality is gaining in acceptance and gay marriage is becoming more and more legalized throughout the world. The church has made it abundantly clear through general conference talks and letters from the First Presidency that even though laws may have changed and society is more accepting, the stance of the church and the Lord has not changed. Even if most of the members of the church come to accept homosexuality, they will still be wrong.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Seth wrote: “The point was the survey question was vague…”

    No it wasn’t, Seth. And (as I pointed out with an example) if the same question was asked about Mormons you wouldn’t find the vagaries that you complain about.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    David, when you say “… the Lord has not changed…” what is your response to Larry’s point that the “Lord” also commands his followers to kill those who worship false gods?

    Consider Deuteronomy 13:12-19, for example:

    “If you hear it said … that wicked men have arisen among you and have led the people … [to] go and worship other gods … you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town.”

    If, as you say, “the Lord has not changed,” why do not Mormons advocate killing Hindus and Buddhists? Why the singular focus on Gays in the Old Testament?

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