What does the Mormon 'temperature' reading mean in new Pew survey?

Published: Friday, July 18 2014 9:15 p.m. MDT

"What matters most in these surveys is not what people experience through the news media but what they experience in their personal relationships," he said.

Haws doesn't think the Mormon Moment has an expiration date but is simply a sign of a tipping point in American consciousness about the LDS Church.

"It might be too early to make those prognostications, but it does seem there is a growing interest in all things Mormon."

He pointed to the growing number of academic studies programs about Mormonism as well as the active LDS participation in social media.

Haws also said media coverage of the church changed from the 2008 Romney campaign to 2012, moving from the same old stories toward lived Mormonism and diversity.

"One thing that came out of 2012 was media coverage of the diversity within Mormonism," Haws said. "People found out that Harry Reid was LDS — and Jabari Parker, Mia Love — and began to see more of the political, racial and ethnic diversity within the church."

"I see the momentum growing," Haws said. "I'm very optimistic that, no, it's not over."

The Pew study included how Jews felt about Jews and how Catholics responded to their own faith in the thermometer readings. When those of a faith were deleted from the stats about their group, the temperature often dropped, as it did significantly for evangelicals, from 61 to 52.

Still, "Evangelicals don't like evangelicals as much as Mormons like Mormons," Campbell said. "What's truly striking and revealing (in other studies) is that no group gives themselves a higher rating than Mormons do Mormons. Mormons give Mormons even higher scores than blacks give blacks or Hispanics give Hispanics in feeling thermometer surveys about race.

"It's really more than a religion; it borders on an ethnic group. They really view other Mormons as being one of them, or being part of a tribe. In an effort to describe this, some say Mormons are a people, which is a way to say they are not an ethnic group but are more than a religion."

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com

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