Last night, a few bloggers from the JI, along with some other friends, informally gathered for some good food (chips and Jared T.’s homemade salsa … mmm) and good conversation. We discussed, among other things, the bloggernacle, grad school, and the perils of the job market in academia for scholars interested in Mormonism. The main subject at hand, though, was the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey (discussed previously by Matt B. here and here). We discussed various issues, laughed at others, and expressed mild shock at still others. As Rodney Stark has suggested, the phrasing and language of some questions were probably interpreted differently by different respondents, depending on their religious identity.
I’m curious about one such question and what Mormons mean when they think/hear/answer the question. In the question dealing with “conception of God,” the survey results show that 100% of Mormons believe in God. Among those Mormons, 91% believe in a “personal God” (higher than any other group), 6% believe in an “impersonal force” (lower than any other group), and 2% responded “other/don’t know” (again lower than any other group). Last night when we discussed this particular question, there was a discussion on what “personal God” meant. Curious to know how other Mormons interpret that language, I’m turning it over to the readers of the JI with a poll. Please feel free to comment and explain/expand on your answer.