Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

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

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.


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About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

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