The Applicability of Social Distance for Religious Research : An Exploration
Review of Religious Research
An adaptation of a well-known scale (Bogardus, 1925) for measuring social distance was employed to measure attitudes of college students towards members of other faiths. Of the 938 students surveyed, 236 were from BYU. Attitudes toward 19 target denominations are analyzed, with particular attention being given to the LDS Church and Unificationist Movement. The attitudes of Mormons toward other religions and vice versa is explored. In terms of findings about the Mormons, the study found that Mormons were most accepting of Unificationists, Hare Krishnas, and Scientologists, i.e., other highly persecuted groups. Conservative Christians were the least tolerant of Mormons, although, the 'new cults' were the least acceptable generally, followed by the proselytizing churches, i.e., Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Conservative Christians. Religious factors have an interesting opposite effect in that the higher the religiosity, the greater the tolerance toward Unificationists, but the greater the intolerance toward Mormons. It is suggested that other religions feel threatened by the success of Mormon proselyting programs, thus resulting in increased intolerance. A sub-part of the study revealed that Mormons were the least likely to favor marriage with persons outside their religion but were the most tolerant in terms of having persons of other religions as their neighbors.