Monday 9 December 2013

Social science of US Mormons


My original interest in Mormonism came from reading loads of social science statistics in the mid-2000s, including quant bloggers - especially in relation to fertility; but also much more widely.

My impression is that these findings are not only not-well-known outside of the LDS church, but people often believe the opposite.

So, I thought I'd mention a summary of the social science findings culled from  American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell (2010) and posted on the official LDS website (H/T - Daniel C Peterson):

I haven't checked this news report against the book - but the report of the book is consistent with the mass of social science stats I have myself reviewed over the years.

1. Mormons are among the most devout religious groups in the country.
(In terms of religious observance, strength of their religious convictions, and degree of personal importance of religion.) 

2. Mormons are among those most likely to keep their childhood faith as adults.

3. Mormons are unusually giving.
(Mormons are among the most charitable of Americans with their means and time, in religious and nonreligious causes).

4. Mormons are relatively friendly to other religious groups.
(Mormons are among those viewed least positively by many American religious groups, but themselves hold relatively positive views toward members of other faiths.)

5. Mormons are among the most likely to believe that one true religion exists, but also that those outside their faith can attain salvation or reach “heaven.”


dearieme said...

Given how vastly superior Romney was as a Republican candidate to his predecessor McCain, I take it that Romney's failure to win the Presidency was, in part, a result of religious prejudice.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - It was no doubt a factor - although I think it was electoral fraud which was decisive (plus of course White Guilt in the phrase of Shelby Steele's book - BTW well worth reading).

AlexT said...

Romney's problem was that he gave the wrong impression when it game to immigration/export of jobs ie globalism. He couldn't get the white working class to come out for him en masse and that lost him several swing states. Beyond that it was a simple case of demographics. He actually won the white vote in both California and New York, but not by enough to offset the numbers of the explicitly anti white Democrat coalition. As for white guilt, it seems to be infecting the Mormon church itself....which is deeply disappointing.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AT - I don't want this thread to become an analysis of the US election. I am very strongly against decision-making by voting - I regard it as insidiously evil.

wrt White Guilt and the CJCLDS - I don't detect any significant sign of this having a substantive effect in the General Authorities or among active and traditionalist Mormons.

However White Guilt is a big deal indeed among inactive/ peripheral/ liberal (and perhaps pseudo-) Mormons - people who have given-up, or are considering giving-up, their religion; or who are agitating for radical (and lethal) changes - such as woman in the Priesthood, redefinition of marriage etc - and these types constitute a large number (and perhaps the majority) of Mormon bloggers.

This is, indeed, a big difference between the LDS and many Mainstream Christian denominations - among Mormons the highest status 'officials' are generally the most devout (also they have the largest families);

... whereas in the Church of England there is an inverse relationship between status and devoutness (for example, very few CofE Bishops and not many Pastors, and essentially-none of the Priestesses, are actually Christians - not least because traditional/ real Christians are mostly actively-excluded from positions of power; whereas there are still quite a few real Christians among rank and file/ low level/ disaffected Cof E members.

AlexT said...

With regards to voting, i agree completely. In fact, am currently reading Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings by Sir Robert Filmer. You can read it online. It may be the best treatise on the nature/purpose of state organisation ever.
As to the matter of white guilt in Mormonism, i am simply going by the public pronouncments of the first Presidency regarding immigration and multiculturalism. This may be a power play on their part of course, but still, on the surface i found it discouraging.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AT - That is not White Guilt, but an attitude shaped - I would say mistakenly, in relation to actually existing modern realities - by the historic experience of immigration to Utah, especially during the Brigham Young era.

It is well worth reading about if you don't know it. If ever there was a way to manage large scale immigration to maximize benefit and minimize harm, that was it!

BY made self-sufficiency into a principle in a more thorough way than perhaps anyone else - and this permanently and profoundly shaped the CJCLDS - for example, the injunction to fertility is constrained by the need for self-sufficiency; pretty much ruling out the practice (common in other traditionalist religions) of poor people having open-endedly large families that are paid for by anonymous welfare.

Among many admirable aspects, was that the new immigrants were encouraged/ made to be economically self-supporting - not least so that further immigrants could be supported - there was none of the moral-grandstanding and cost-shifting (and gross dishonesty) which typifies modern mass immigration - immigrants were supported by (voluntary) tithes from within the community; but only temporarily - any free-riding was perfectly visible to those who were paying for it - and was therefore kept to a low level.

My personal impression, is that (knowing this history, and over-generalizing the concept of immigration; rightly or wrongly) Mormons fear the consequences of restrictions on immigration more than they fear the adverse consequences of immigration.

The perspective is religious (harvest of souls) rather than economic, and (whether correct or mistaken) is NOT primarily about racial (or any other kind of) guilt.

Samson J. said...

It may be the best treatise on the nature/purpose of state organisation ever.

I'll put it on my list. Somewhat relatedly - I mention this because I know of our host's fondness for the KJV - I want to recommend the book God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible. Something the author makes clear again and again is that most of the KJV Translators, as well as King James himself, believed strongly in the importance and legitimacy of monarchy, and intentionally crafted the translation to endorse the divine right of kings. So there's another reason for you to prefer the KJV, Bruce!

Nate said...

Do you have any documentation of electoral fraud? I believe you are correct, that electoral fraud was decisive in the last election-but I can't find any evidence of it. The Wall Street Journal has documented electoral fraud on the part of the democrats in the past few election-but has been strangely silent in the very last election. It's almost a "dog that didn't bark" type of phenomenon.

So even though I believe the election likely was fraudulent, I can't find reliable documentation of that fact. Do you know of any?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nate - I can't give references, and I am not trying to persuade anybody. But on election day and the day after I read numerous accounts, from around the US, by sources I trusted, describing all sorts of irregularities which were new to this election - rigged voting machines (which would only register Obama votes, and other votes returned an error), busing in of unidentified people to vote, impossible counts (of nearly 100 percent for Obama) and so on. Then there was the prior failure to prosecute documented intimidation, support of the crooked Acorn organization, Democrats crying 'racism' and blocking necessary reforms to ensure voter identity. I am convinced. I don't anticipate any further Republican Presidents - especially since it is very unlikely that a candidate as good as Romney will again be found (he was BY FAR the best Presidential candidate of recent decades - or rather the ONLY decent one).

Bruce Charlton said...

A general comment.

I have noticed that on the secular Right/ Reactosphere/ Alt Right/ Manosphere blogs, the Mormon attitude to immigration is regarded as a sufficient reason to reject the religion lock-stock and barrel.

(Mostly this is just an excuse or rationalization to avoid acknowledging that Mormons already do what the secular Right say ought to be done - but the secular Right do not really want the world they pretend to want, because if they wanted it as much as they pretend then they would have to become Mormons; but instead they *really* want to dominate and coerce women, the more the better; and also hang onto their sex and drink and drugs.)

It is, indeed, characteristic of the secular Right to use the secular criterion of immigration policy as the Litmus Test (whereas on the religious right the Litmus tests are related to the sexual revolution).

Why should this be? I think the answer is that on the Christian Right the first step must be Christianity; because even 'common sense' reforms cannot be introduced without unleashing dangerous levels of hatred when they need to overcome and reverse the major priorities of political correctness.

Thus, from where are are now, 'sensible' changes to immigration policy may be impossible *in practice* - perhaps they can safely be done *only* on the other side of mass repentance and a religious revival.

If immigration restriction became a single issue for a party which then attained power, *in practice* this would probably only happen by encouraging hatred of immigrants and the rest of it.

This is why immigration is such a fraught question - the Left have created an impossible and suicidal immigration policy, yet it is so embedded that to stop and turn around could very easily produce horrific side effects - civil war, perhaps.

At root, suicidal mass immigration is a product of the psychotic and self-destructive mind set of secularism, a disease that can *only* be cured by religion. If treatment is introduced without prior religious cure, then we would necessarily and merely be swapping one kind of psychotic self-destruction for another.

Gyan said...

"the practice (common in other traditionalist religions) of poor people having open-endedly large families that are paid for by anonymous welfare."

So no Darwinian selection in traditional cultures?
Which example you have in mind? The existence of large charitable enterprises serving poor people to have many children--it does seem unlikely before industrial revolution.