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Pew survey: 3 out of 4 American Mormons live in West

Published: Wednesday, July 24 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Flowers around Temple Square during General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly three-fourths of U.S. Mormons live in the West, and four in 10 live in Utah, new figures from the Pew Research Center show.

Surveys done over the last two years found that 74 percent of Mormons live in Western U.S. states even though just less than one-fourth of the total U.S. population lives in the West.

Just less than 40 percent of U.S. Mormons live in Utah, where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has its worldwide headquarters, the Pew Research Center survey found. Utah is home to just 1 percent of the U.S. population.

Mormon church headquarters are in Salt Lake City, where Mormon pioneers trekked to from across the country in 1847 as they fled from persecution in Illinois and elsewhere. Wednesday is a state holiday in Utah, called Pioneer Day, celebrating that historic journey.

LDS officials say there are 6.3 million church members in the U.S, less than half of the 14.7 million members worldwide.

Pew Research Center says about 2 percent of Americans self-identify as Mormons.

A previous poll done by the organization found that the perception of Mormons in the U.S. changed very little from 2011 to 2012 even though the religion received unprecedented attention with Republican Mitt Romney running for president last year.

The poll of 1,500 people done in December found that 8 in 10 people said they learned little or nothing about Mormon church during the 2012 presidential election. And fewer than half of Americans still don't know key facts about the history of the Mormon church.

There does, however, appear to be a warming in feelings toward members of the church, with the previous survey discovering that nearly a quarter of Americans now use positive terms to describe Mormons as "good people," ''dedicated" and "hardworking," whereas last year it was 18 percent.

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