News / USA

US Mormons Say They are Misunderstood Despite Romney Candidacy

It is story time at the Cook home.  Two-year-old Tristan gets his work-weary father Dave Cook to read him one book after another before going to bed.

As Dave and his wife Andrea sit on the sofa with their two small children on their laps, the Cooks have the look of the all-American family.  But they belong to one of the least understood faiths in America, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon church is officially known.

"Some people know a lot about our church.  Some people don't know anything about our church,” Dave Cook says.  “There's a lot of misperceptions about Mormons."

Mormons make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, around 6 million people.  Another 8 million Mormons live abroad.  But in the United States, some of the misperceptions Dave Cook speaks of are being challenged.

With presidential hopeful and Mormon Mitt Romney gaining momentum in the bid for the Republican Party nomination, many LDS members are excited by the prospect of a president from their faith.  They are also conscious of the attention their faith is getting from media coverage about the award-winning Broadway show, The Book of Mormon.

A new survey by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that Mormons on the whole are satisfied with their lives.  "This is a group that in many ways is thriving,” says researcher Greg Smith.  “And this is a group that in many ways perceives a growing level of acceptance of themselves, of their faith on the part of other Americans."  

But he adds that they are aware of the misgivings many Americans have about their faith.  "Lots of Mormons tell us that Mormons are discriminated against in the United States.  And two thirds of Mormons say they are not accepted, they are not seen as part of mainstream American society," Smith said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded in America in the 19th century.  But Mormon prophet Joseph Smith was murdered in 1844 and his followers were persecuted.

Last year, Texas pastor Robert Jeffress made headlines when he suggested that Mitt Romney is not a Christian and that Mormonism is a cult.  The latter comment reflects a view held by about one-third of Americans, mainly evangelical Protestants, according to the Pew Forum.

"To me, it's just mind-boggling why people would be that disrespectful of anyone," says Dave Cook, adding that a Mormon president would be good for America.

"We're very patriotic.  In fact, we even believe that the Founding Fathers [of the United States] were inspired of God to found this country."  

The Pew survey found that three-quarters of Mormon who are registered to vote lean toward the Republican Party and hold conservative social views.  Nearly twice as many Mormons as other Americans prefer a family in which the husband is the wage earner and the wife takes care of the home and children.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid