Acceptance of Evolution among American Mormons

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Low public acceptance of evolution among Americans in general, and conservative Protestants specifically, has recently received increased attention among scholars of both religion and the public understanding of science. At the same time, members of another major religious tradition, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), reject evolution at rates similar to evangelical Christians, yet there remains a dearth of studies examining the lack of acceptance of evolution among Mormons. Using a nationally representative survey of Americans that contains an adequate number of LDS respondents for advanced statistical analyses, this study examines patterns of evolution acceptance or rejection among Mormons. Findings reveal a moderating relationship between political identity and education, such that educational attainment has a positive relationship with evolution acceptance among political moderates and liberals, but a negative association among political conservatives. These findings highlight the central role played by the politicization of evolution in low rates of evolution acceptance among American Mormons and emphasize the need to—where possible—examine relations between ‘science and religion’ within and across specific religious traditions.