The Pew Research Center recently released the raw data from its 2014 Religious Landscape Survey for public consumption and analysis. Here are a few interesting tidbits that may be of interest to Rational Faiths readers:

The 2014 RLS puts self-identified Mormons at 1.6% of the total U.S. population. Those who say that they were raised Mormon as a child but no longer identify as Mormon constitute 0.6% of the U.S. population. (To compare: the 2007 RLS survey put self-identified Mormons at 1.7% of the U.S. population and former-Mormons at 0.5%.) In other words, for every 3 self-identified Mormons in the U.S., there is about 1 self-identified former-Mormon.

Of the 1.6% of U.S. residents who currently identify as Mormon, 69% say they were born and raised in the church and the other 31% say that their childhood religion was something else.

MORMON CONVERTS

Those who currently identify as Mormon were also asked what their childhood faith was. Here is the breakdown for those who said that their childhood faith was something other than Mormonism:

Evangelical Protestant 19.7%
Mainline Protestant 21.4%
Historically Black Protestant 0.9%
Catholic 29.6%
Orthodox Christian 0.8%
Jehovah’s Witness 1.3%
Other Faiths 1.8%
Unaffiliated (religious “nones”) 24.5%

It seems that Mormonism is drawing most of its converts from Catholicism and from the religiously unaffiliated.

Other demographic and political information about Mormon converts:

  • 42% of Mormon converts are male and 58% of Mormon converts are female.
  • 17% are Millennials, 28.6% are GenXers, 35.6% are Baby Boomers, and 17.9% are Silent Generation or older.
  • 37.7% have a high school education or less, 34.6% have some college, 17.5% have college degrees, and 10.2% have some kind of post-graduate training or degree.
  • Politically, 55.9% identify as Republican or independent-lean-Republican, 28.5% identify as Democrats or independent-lean-Democrat, and 15.6% identify as pure Independents.

 

FORMER MORMONS

Those who currently do not identify as Mormon but indicated Mormonism as their childhood faith constitute 0.6% of the U.S. population, according to the 2014 RLS survey. Here is what they describe as their current faith tradition:

Evangelical Protestant 17.9%
Mainline Protestant 9.8%
Historically Black Protestant 1.7%
Catholic 4.8%
Other Christian 0
Jewish 0.5%
Muslim 0.7%
Buddhist 2.1%
Hindu 0.1%
Other World Religions 0.3%
Other Faiths 3.1%
Unaffiliated (religious “nones”) 59.1%

The vast majority of former-Mormons currently identify as religiously unaffiliated.

Other demographic and political information about Mormon converts:

  • 55.3% of former-Mormons are male and 44.7% of former-Mormons are female.
  • 40.1% are Millennials, 32% are GenXers, 22.1% are Baby Boomers, and 5.4% are Silent Generation or older.
  • 36.4% have a high school education or less, 42.2% have some college, 13.2% have college degrees, and 7.8% have some kind of post-graduate training or degree.
  • Politically, 34% identify as Republican or independent-lean-Republican, 48.8% identify as Democrats or independent-lean-Democrat, and 17.2% identify as pure Independents.

 

This is only the very tippity-tippy-top of the iceberg of the data that the 2014 RLS survey has available. I am eager for researchers and other analysts to dig in and see what’s in there.

Note: due to small sample size, the margin of error for the Mormon converts and former-Mormon estimates are +/- 7%. So treat each figure as a general ballpark instead of a precise estimate.

 

 

Benjamin Knoll is a political science professor at a liberal arts college in central Kentucky, currently living and working abroad in Yucatán, México. He's a married father of three girls.

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