The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released some data from a recent survey of Mormons. Most of the numbers show what we would expect: Mormons in America tend to be conservative and white and have large families. But some of the information is pretty telling.
Anecdotally, many of noticed that the LDS church has not been attracting converts from among the educated and stable. The survey seems tobear this out, showing that converts are more likely to be uneducated (16% of converts did not graduate from college, as opposed to just 6% of lifelong members) and economically disadvantaged (40% earn less than $30,000 a year, compared to just 21% of lifelong members). However, the convert population is considerably older than the lifelong members (48% are over 50, whereas only 30% of lifelong members are), which signals to me that the church is not attracting younger people, which is a pretty bad sign for a missionary church.
I was also surprised that only 57% of Mormons say they believe their church is the “one true church,” which of course is one of the central tenets of Mormonism. Far more believe in the Bible (91%) though more than half don’t take it literally (57%). It’s too bad that they didn’t ask if Mormons take the Book of Mormon literally. That would have been interesting.
A large majority (76%) of self-identified Mormons say they attend church at least once a week. This is interesting because most LDS wards would kill for an activity rate that high. Most wards I have been in have activity rates around 40-60%, and I don’t think that’s out of the ordinary. The high stated rate indicates to me that a lot of “less active” Mormons that the church still counts on its rolls do not consider themselves Mormons in any meaningful way.
Anyway, lots to chew on in the survey.