Bob Bernick’s Notebook: Losing My Religion

bernick mugAs UtahPolicy devoted readers may know, it has been part of my professional career to write stories about, and analyze, polls by Dan Jones & Associates.

And in delving deeply into Jones’ latest survey – the question about which Utah-based sports team is your favorite – that I find a very troubling statistical comparison.

There is no way to break my research to you easily.

So I will just come out and say it:

It is clear to me after this examination that becoming a die-hard University of Utah “Big Red” sports fan tends to destroy one’s belief in the LDS Church.

The sad, even personally devastating, news is right there in the numbers.

And as Jones has told me for more than 30 years working with him in his polling: “The numbers just don’t lie.”

Here are the facts, right in front of your face, in the demographic breakdown between what Utah sports team is your favorite, cross-tabulated with religious preferences:

Among those who told Jones in his latest survey for UtahPolicy that they are “very active” members of the LDS Church (those that attend Mormon Church regularly and pay tithing):

  • 43 percent said their favorite team is Brigham Young University football.
  • 18 percent said the Utah Jazz NBA team.
  • 12 percent of the “very active” Mormons said they didn’t know which sports team is their favorite (a rather odd case of self-unawareness, in my mind.)
  • 11 percent mentioned some other team.
  • 6 percent said the Real Salt Lake professional men’s soccer team.
  • And ONLY 9 percent of “very active” Mormons said the University of Utah football team was their favorite sports team.

So, 43 percent of “very active” Mormons said BYU football, while only 9 percent said “Big Red” football.

Now, take a look at those who told Jones they were “somewhat active” in the LDS Church (went to church sometimes, but probably didn’t pay tithing or have a Temple recommend.)

  • 25 percent of these folks said BYU was their favorite team.
  • 10 percent said the University of Utah football.
  • 25 percent said the Jazz, 22 percent said some other team, 14 percent “didn’t know,” and 4 percent said Real Salt Lake.

You see the shifting in the numbers?

Now look at those who said they had once been active in their LDS faith, but now say they are “not active at all” in the LDS Church:

  • 29 percent said their favorite team is the University of Utah footballers.
  • Only 12 percent said BYU!
  • 24 percent of the lax Mormons said the Jazz, 19 percent said some other team (maybe the old Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays), 14 percent didn’t have a favorite team, and 2 percent said Real Salt Lake.

The trend line is clear.

The result indisputable.

The more you become a U football fan, the more you fall away from the Mormon faith of your fathers.

And here is the killer number:

  • Among Utah Catholics – those of the really old Christian faith – 52 percent are University of Utah fans, 0 percent like BYU.

That’s ZERO percent(!) of Catholics like BYU football. (Don’t tell the Pope, he will never come here.)

But as if this poll isn’t bad enough, here is a clip of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson singing “I Am A Utah Man, Am I” – the school fight song.

(Monson is an alum of the U. – but his faith in the LDS Church is not in question here.)

In fact, no LDS Church president has ever graduated from BYU, although any number of LDS leaders have received honorary doctorates from the faith’s official university.

And a recent newspaper sports columnist announces that there is now a new generation of loyal BYU kindergartners who were not alive the last time BYU beat the University of Utah in football.

This is all very disturbing, I must admit.

And I take no pleasure in reporting these facts.

So I say to my faithful Mormon friends:

Starting to like red over blue could have some serious afterlife consequences.