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Most U.S. pastors feel strongly that Mormons are not Christians, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.

In a poll of 1,000 American Protestant pastors, a response was asked to the statement: “I personally consider Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) to be Christians.”

Three-quarters — 75 percent — said they disagree with the statement. Of those, 60 percent said they “strongly disagree” while 15 percent said they “somewhat disagree.” Only 11 percent “somewhat” agreed, 6 percent strongly agreed and 9 percent did not know.

“Though pastors believe overwhelmingly that Mormonism is not Christianity, their opinions should not be confused with personal scorn for Mormons,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “A person can respect a religious group and even appreciate their commitment to traditional moral values without equating their beliefs with Christian orthodoxy.”

Mormonism has gained public attention with the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney and John Huntsman. Other highly visible Mormons include U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid and conservative talk show host Glenn Beck.

According to a 2009 study by the Pew Research Center, Mormons comprise 1.7 percent of the U.S. adult population and 58 percent of Utah’s population. By comparison half of Americans call themselves with Evangelical Protestants or Roman Catholics — 26 percent and 24 percent respectively, reported the Christian Messenger.

In the LifeWay Research survey, pastors’ self-identification as either Mainline or Evangelical was a predictor of their opinions regarding Mormons. While two-thirds (67 percent) of Evangelicals strongly disagree that Mormons are Christians, just 48 percent of Mainline pastors feel the same way.

Pastors 65 and older are the least likely age bracket to strongly disagree that Mormons are Christians, with 48 percent holding that opinion.

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