Living Blue in a Red Church: Experiences of Liberal Mormons in the United States

Thomas Friend

Abstract. This study examines the experiences of politically liberal members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a church with a strong conservative lean in its membership in the United States. In interviews, participants were asked about the intersection of their religious and political identities in both internal and external contexts—an individual’s own thoughts and feelings, and interpersonal or social experiences. The findings reflect a general feeling that even if individuals have not experienced stigmatization themselves, they are still aware of the presence of a stigma attached to being a liberal Mormon. Also of note is the way these individuals reconcile the two conflicting identities, as well as the varying levels of conflict—both internal and external—that they experience. Finally, participants expressed ways they believe this issue can be addressed by making the social culture of the Church more accepting of diverse political beliefs. Implications for the theories of Role Conflict, Spiral of Silence, and stigmatization are discussed. 

Friend, Thomas J. 2022. “Living Blue in a Red Church: Experiences of Liberal Mormons in the United States,” Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association 1, no. 1: 153-176.