A phenomenon highlighted in a recent Pew survey could be a sign that Latter-day Saints are trying to be kind and nonjudgmental to those around them.
Last month, Pew Research Center released the findings of a poll examining how favorably Americans view various religious groups, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As I reviewed the data from the poll, I was struck by a few takeaways that I think speak highly of Latter-day Saints and their approach to interacting with those around them. (Though the Pew study uses the term “Mormon” throughout, this article uses “Latter-day Saint.”)
Not surprisingly, Latter-day Saints tend to feel very favorably toward their own Church. The chart below shows that Latter-day Saints are second only to Jews in terms of how favorably they feel about their own group.
What did surprise me, however, is that of all religious groups in the study, Latter-day Saints were the only group who held an overall favorable view of all other groups. These groups include Evangelical Christians, Mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Atheists.
The chart below breaks out the numbers. It has each religious group in the left column, and moving along the columns to the right of each group, it shows how they feel about the other groups (the vertical columns labeled at the top). Blue cells signify unfavorable views, and orange cells signify favorable views.
Again, notice how Latter-day Saints are the only group with positive views of all other groups. This even includes favorable views of Atheists and Muslims (note that Muslims are viewed negatively by all other religious groups except for Agnostics and Latter-day Saints).
And Latter-day Saints hold these positive views of other groups even though they themselves are one of the least favored of all religious groups. (Only Catholics held a net positive view of Latter-day Saints.)
The fact that Latter-day Saints are willing and able to hold favorable views of all other religious groups—even when that favorable view isn’t reciprocated—strikes me as something that Latter-day Saints can feel good about.
I think this phenomenon could be a sign that Latter-day Saints are trying to be kind and nonjudgmental to those around them.
Of course we can do better, which is why President Russell M. Nelson encouraged us in this April general conference to keep striving to be peacemakers. “Vulgarity, faultfinding, and evil speaking of others are all too common,” he said. “I am greatly concerned that so many people seem to believe that it is completely acceptable to condemn, malign, and vilify anyone who does not agree with them.”
President Nelson went on to give this insightful admonition: “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be examples of how to interact with others—especially when we have differences of opinion.”
Latter-day Saints constantly encounter differences of opinions with individuals and groups. Hopefully we are approaching those differences in a Christlike way that allows us to be civil and kind, even when kindness isn’t returned.
The results of the Pew survey suggest that Latter-day Saints are able to feel respect for groups even when they have very different beliefs. We hold favorable views of those around us, which hopefully allows us to follow President Nelson’s counsel:
“Let us show that there is a peaceful, respectful way to resolve complex issues and an enlightened way to work out disagreements. … Make any adjustments that may be needed so that your behavior is ennobling, respectful, and representative of a true follower of Jesus Christ.”
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