Where the Country's Mormons Thrive (and Don't): an Interactive Map

A partnership of Slate and the New America Foundation.
Feb. 16 2012 5:20 PM

Mormons in America

Where the country’s largest homegrown religion thrives—and where it doesn’t.

98233584
The historic Salt Lake Temple

George Frey/Getty Images

Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered, is the state everyone associates with Mormonism. But Mormons didn’t arrive in the Beehive state until 1847, nearly 20 years after Joseph Smith, a native of Vermont, began attracting followers to his fledgling religious movement, which he founded in western New York State. After Smith was assassinated in Illinois in 1844, another Vermonter, Brigham Young, led the Mormons across the plains to a place far from the hostility of non-Mormons—and beyond the reach of the U.S. government, which outlawed polygamy, a practice Smith instituted in the late 1830s (and which the church foreswore in 1890, allowing Utah to become a state).

On the map below, you can see for yourself where Mormons have settled in the intervening centuries. Zoom in and out to dig into the county data, and click to drag the map around for better viewing. As the map makes clear, Utah remains the home base of the church—and Mormons have migrated from their initial settlement in the Salt Lake Valley to towns and cities across the Mountain West. As soon as you cross east into the Great Plains, though, you become much less likely to bump into a Latter-day Saint—indeed, you’d have better luck heading all the way back to the more densely populated parts of New England, where Smith and Young many of the other early Mormons were born. Still, across the map you’ll see smaller dots where a community of Mormons has established itself. Scroll over Liberty County, Fla., for instance, and you’ll see the Mormon population suddenly jump over 10 percent—that’s mostly because of one man, James Edwin Schuler. Just as the map as a whole quickly tells the larger story of Mormon settlement, so these small dots reflect local stories of Mormons scattered far from Zion.



TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.