We've heard lots of whispers and don't-quote-me-but statements from Christian conservatives that they consider Mormonism a "cult," a comment that deeply insults Mormons. Aside from it being bigoted on its face, the anti-Mormon bias is probably bad politics for the right because it estranges fellow conservatives.
LOS ANGELES — Call it the Mitt Moment, the Mormon Moment - by whatever name, this would seem to be a pretty good time to be a Mormon in America. And it is, according to a survey of American Mormons being released Thursday, even though many church members say they still face discrimination and hostility.
Mormons are generally more satisfied with their lives and communities than most Americans, and a majority believe that America is ready to elect a Mormon president, says the survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The survey provides a snapshot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - the formal name - at a time when one of its members, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, could become the first Mormon presidential nominee of a major political party.
Most of the survey's findings are unsurprising. Mormons are far more conservative than the public at large (66 percent vs. 37 percent), and far more likely to be Republican or Republican-leaning (74 percent vs. 45 percent). They are staunch social conservatives, with strong majorities opposed to homosexuality and abortion. And they like Romney, who has an 86 percent favorable rating among his co-religionists. (President Barack Obama, by contrast, is viewed favorably by 25 percent of Mormons, exactly half his rating among the public at large.)
Even before Romney won Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, there was talk of this being a Mormon Moment, in part based on the popularity of "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway and "Big Love" on TV. Given that "Big Love" was about a breakaway polygamist sect, this wasn't all good news - and the survey found that Mormons believe they are portrayed badly by the entertainment industry.
"One of the key questions we really had going into the survey was, 'How are Mormons themselves responding to and experiencing this Mormon Moment that we seem to be in?' " said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew. "It paints kind of a mixed picture.