The “Mormon Moment” Yields… Not So Much

Even after Mitt Romney lost, Mormon media observers felt that his campaign must have yielded a net positive for public understanding of the Mormon faith. 

But new data released by the Pew Forum suggests otherwise.

82% of Americans surveyed by Pew say they learned little to nothing about Mormonism during the 2012 campaign. 

Nearly 50% said they still know “little to nothing” about Mormonism, a proportion unchanged from 2011. 

And only about 40% could answer two basic factual questions about the faith, a proportion unchanged from 2010.

But there is some good news.

Marginally fewer non-Mormons characterize Mormons as “very different” from themselves:  down from 65% of Americans surveyed to 61%.

Some measurable gains have been made among mainline Protestants: 28% surveyed in 2011 said they have “a lot in common” with Mormons; now, that proportion is 42%.

And when asked to give a one asked to give a one-word descriptor of Mormonism, the number of respondents offering a positive word like “good,” or “honest,” increased from 18% in 2011 to 24% in 2012. 

All of these gains were concentrated among Republicans voting for Romney, naturally.

Still, the number one word survey participants associated with Mormons? “Cult.”

And fully 27% of survey respondents still have no idea what religion Mitt Romney is.

askmormongirl@gmail.com'

Joanna Brooks is the author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press / Simon & Schuster, 2012) and a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches.