The truth about government agencies’ rumored special interest in recruiting Latter-day Saints turns out to be more nuanced
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have long been rumored to be special targets for recruitment in government intelligence and security agencies.
In 1971, a Ramparts magazine article claimed that Latter-day Saints “provid[ed] both the CIA and FBI with some of their best men.” A 1981 Associated Press news story reported, “The CIA does some of its most successful recruiting in predominantly LDS Utah.” A 2015 Atlas Obscura article headlined “Why Mormons Make Great FBI Recruits” notes that “agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the CIA ... see Mormons as particularly desirable recruits and have a reputation for hiring a disproportionate number of people who belong to the church.”
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The 2017 book The FBI and Religion dedicates a full chapter to the connection, calling Church members “a natural recruiting ground for agents.” And Tracy Walder, a former CIA officer and FBI special agent and author of The Unexpected Spy, told me the rumor was so common internally that by the time she worked for the government, it had become, “a running joke that Mormons are what the agency wanted in their recruitment.”
While it’s easy to find such rumors, it’s much more difficult to substantiate them.