Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why Mormons Are The Most Conservative Religious Group in America

Gallup has released a poll reporting that:
"Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, are the most conservative major religious group in the country, with 59% identifying as conservative, 31% as moderate, and 8% as liberal.

The 59% of Mormons who identify as conservative is the largest such percentage of any major religious group included in this analysis. The next-most-conservative group are Protestants (including non-Catholic Christians), with 46% identifying as conservative. (This review does not include analysis of specific denominations into which Protestants can be subdivided, of which there are hundreds.) Thirty-nine percent of Catholics are conservative. Less than a quarter of Jews, Muslims, those who identify with other religions, and those with no religious identity identify as conservatives."
Additionally, Mormons are also most likely to identify themselves with the Republican party than any other major religious group in America.

However, the most interesting part of the poll is the ideological difference between "active" and "less active" or "inactive" Latter Day Saints. The ideological divide between active and non-active LDS isn't small either. Gallop found that "lapsed Mormons" (or inactive members in LDS terminology)
"are substantially different in ideology from their fellow Mormons who remain active in the church (as defined by attendance at church services). In fact, lapsed Mormons are essentially no different from all other non-Mormons in terms of their basic ideology."
This is quite apparent as seen in the graph below:

Lapsed Mormons are also more similar to all other non-Mormon Americans than to active Mormons in terms of the party/ideology categorization as seen in the chart below:

The basic conclusion is that the more active the LDS member is, the more likely they are to be conservative and Republican.

However, the correlation between activity in the Church and political ideology isn't new. The general observation that the more active a person was in their faith, the more likely they were to identify with the Republican Party is confirmed in a December 2009 Gallup poll which found that
"the basic relationship between religiosity and party identification is quite strong and quite straightforward. The percentage of Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party drops from 49% among the highly religious to 26% among those who are not religious. The percentage who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party rises from 37% among the highly religious to 56% among those who are not religious."
If the the basic relationship between religiosity and party identification is based on how religious a person is, then why are Mormons the most Republican and ideologically religious group in America?

The answer is found in that Mormons go to Church a lot more often than han the general population:
Seventy-nine percent of Mormons attend religious services weekly, almost every week, or monthly. That compares to 53% of the overall American adult population who attend this frequently.
Thus, its the frequency church attendance that separate Mormons from other conservative groups. I would argue that its not just Church attendance but other activities such as temple attendance, listening/attending General Conference and going to institute that makes Mormons so more likely to lean to the right politically and ideologically.

More specifically, given that the teachings of the LDS Church are religiously conservative in doctrine (Agency, Accountability, etc) and life style (Word of Wisdom, modesty, Chastity, etc), it is the frequency of these doctrines that are taught each Sunday or in each temple visit that makes Mormons such a conservative group of people.

I'm interested in hearing why YOU think Mormons are the most politically and ideologically the most conservative religious group in America.

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