It's probably no surprise to Utahns, but a new nationwide survey shows Latter-day Saints are more likely than those of other faiths to be Republican, married, live in a Western state and have a larger-than-average family.
According to the new Survey of Religious Identification compiled by The City University of New York Graduate Center, those who identified themselves as "Latter-day Saints" or "Mormons" number 2,487,000 or 1.4 percent of the total 18-and-over population in the continental United States. Hawaii and Alaska were not included in the survey.In all 50 states, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints membership records show the church has slightly less than 3 million adult members. Those statistics include those who are older than 18 and others who are married but under 18, according to the church's public affairs department.
The survey was intended to gauge a "family of faith." Therefore, the survey's "Mormon/LDS" category is most likely to include members of the LDS Church, but may also include others that identify with groups such as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said Barry A. Kosmin, a senior researcher at the graduate center.
Researchers interviewed 113,000 adults including 1,700 Latter-day Saints over a 13-month period.
In Utah, 69 percent of the residents are Latter-day Saints, the survey said. Mormons also comprise a plurality in Idaho with 30.5 percent. Besides Utah and Idaho, three other states have more than 4 percent LDS population - Wyoming, Arizona and Nevada, according to the survey.
Mormons in Utah constitute the largest religious majority in any state. Next closest is Rhode Island, where 61.7 percent are Roman Catholic.
More than any other group, Latter-day Saints tend to be Republican: 51.4 percent of Mormons said they were Republican; 22.7 percent said they were Democrats. Interestingly, another conservative body, Baptists, had an almost opposite makeup with 43.4 percent Democrats and 26.6 percent Republicans.
Among Christian denominations, including specific sects but adding a generic "Protestant" and "Christian" designation in the study, Latter-day Saints ranked 10th-largest in self-identified membership. If only denominations are used, the number of Mormons rank eighth.
Among all faiths, Kosmin said, Latter-day Saints have the highest percentage of married adults - 73 percent. Based on membership rec-ords, the church's public affairs department places the marriage statistic at 66 percent for adult members.
Given that, it is not surprising that Latter-day Saints ranked among the bottom five groups for divorce, at 7.5 percent in the survey. Only members of the Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church, Muslims and Hindus have a lower divorce rate. Unitarians have the highest divorce rate at 18 percent. Here are more statistical snapshots of Latter-day Saints from the university survey:
- Mormon families have the largest number of children, with an average household size of 3.8, the survey said. LDS Church statistics show that the household size of its U.S. membership is 2.25.
- In all, 27 percent of Mormons are single because of never marrying, divorce, separation or death of a spouse - a number that comes close to matching a similar church survey conducted in 1981. LDS Church membership statistics show 34 percent of the adult membership is currently single.
- 64.1 percent of people who identified themselves as Mormons in the survey are high school graduates and have attended some college. The survey showed 19.2 percent are college graduates, and 16.7 percent have had less than a high school education.
- The median age of Mormon adults is 41.6. Only Catholics and Pentacostals have a younger median age. Presbyterians are oldest with a median age of 48.2, the survey said. LDS Church statistics show the median age of its adult membership at 38.
- 93.6 percent of Mormons are white. The survey showed 1.8 percent of American Hispanics, 1.7 of American whites, .2 percent of American blacks, and 1.8 percent of other races identify themselves as Mormons. The church doesn't keep track of racial or ethnic origin in its membership records, but a 1981 survey of LDS Church members in the United States and Canada showed almost 95 percent of the respondents to be white, 2.26 percent to be American Indian, 1.95 percent to Hispanic, .21 percent black, .56 percent Asian American and 1.14 percent other.
- 72.9 percent of Mormons live in metropolitan areas. The most urban religious groups are Jews, with 84.5 percent living in metro areas. Baptists have the smallest number of urban dwellers, with 66.1 percent in metro areas.
The following states have above-the-national-average percentage of residents identifying themselves as "Mormons" or "Latter-day Saints" when asked their religious affiliation in a recent national survey.
State Percent of population
New Mexico 2.7%
U.S. 1.4 %
Source: National Survey of Religious Identification, The City University of New York Graduate Center.