Interpreted as an “anomaly” by Visual Interpretation Guy, who created the visualization based on findings from the Pew Research Religious Landscape Survey, Mormons overall religious health was shown to be much higher than any other religious group according to the graphic.
While no definitive conclusion can be made about a religious organization’s true well-being, it is interesting to note that there is a clear discrepancy between wealth and education and religious devotion. Churches who scored high in wealth and education (Hindus and Jews, for example) scored quite low in religious devotion. Conversely, churches who scored low in wealth and education (Historically Black Churches and Jehovah’s Witnesses) scored high in religious devotion. Most of the churches remained somewhere in the middle. Mormons are the anomaly in this chart, as the only religious organization that scored high or relatively high in all six categories, making their composite score (55) much higher than the others.
“Balance:” The Secret of Mormonism’s Success
Mormons only scored highest in one of 6 categories (Prayer), yet at the final tally, they were overwhelmingly rated the most healthy. Even though other churches scored higher than Mormons in individual categories, their weaknesses in other categories brought them down. But Mormons had no weak spots. It is this well-roundedness seems to be the secret of Mormonism’s high rating.
Mormons Different Than Other Religions
All other religious groups in the survey huddle together in the middle, suggesting perhaps that religion in general provides a certain expected level of “health.” But Mormons are all alone at the top of the chart, providing an unexpectedly high level of religious health. What are we doing differently?
Works Versus Faith
The graphic suggests that works-oriented liberal churches (those valuing education, wealth, and marriage) are poor in faith (those valuing prayer, devotion, and attendance), and faith-oriented conservative churches are poor in works (as defined by education, wealth, and marital success). But Mormons can do both works and faith. Why is it so difficult for other religions to achieve this balance? My own view is that “works” and “faith” are mutually exclusive world views which have built-in contradictions. (I’ll try to develop this theory more in a later post.) It is difficult for people of faith to have worldly success (works), and vice versa. However Mormons fully embrace both the Law of the Harvest and the Law of Faith, even though the contradictions inherent in these two laws have led all other religious traditions to abandon either one or the other.
If this graphic has indeed uncovered a secret ingredient in Mormonism’s success (balance), should we incorporate it into our missionary approach and media outreach? Perhaps we are already doing that with the “I’m A Mormon” campaign, which highlights Mormons who have worldly success, yet who also bear testimony of LDS truth claims.
- What do you take away from the graphic?
- Is it an accurate portrayal of Mormon’s superior “health?”
- How does Mormonism succeed in balancing works and faith where others fail?