Mainstream Mormons, Are All of them White and Prosperous?

First of all, Prof. Brian Britt of Virginia Tech penned a scholarly and wonderful article about how mainstream Mormons are these days in lieu of certain pop-culture, political and religious demographic events and trends – quite specifically the unseemly Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon.”  I enjoyed how Prof. Britt wove together various occurences to make a striking point concerning the mainstream nature of American Mormonism. With that in mind, I do want to bring up one point in regards to his article’s coverage of the LDS.

When the author says in paragraph five, “But Mormons, predominantly white and prosperous, are perceived as more mainstream and ‘American’ than Muslims” he overgeneralizes a much more diverse reality.

Although AmericanMormonism is predominantly caucasian, Mormons occupy the middle in terms of economic prosperity and education, with Jews, Buddhists and Hindus all tending to be higher educated and more prosperous. Overall, Mormons are only slightly more likely to be middle-class than the typical American (read a report from the Pew Forum here).

Furthermore, internationally, Mormonism is by no means “predominantly white and prosperous.” Indeed, American Mormonism represents only half of the international population with South Americans, Asians, Europeans, Pacific Islanders and Africans making up the other half of the international LDS church. I bring this up due to the fact that in my religious education classes many students are surprised to find that Mormons are so diverse given the very popular presupposition that Mormons are overwhelmingly “white and prosperous.”

While the majority of Mormons in America (granted, the focus of this essay) are indeed white, they are not necessarily prosperous. Internationally Mormons are much more diverse. In reporting on how Mormons are more and more mainstream, it might also be worth noting that following wider immigration trends in the U.S.A., American Mormonism is browning and becoming more ethnically and economically diverse by the day.

Again, I must reiterate my appreciation for Prof. Britt and his article, but I thought the above worth noting in terms of the wider misperceptions of American Mormons, no matter how mainstream they may be or becoming.


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Filed under Mormonism, Religion and the Public Sphere, Religious Education

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