"Being LDS certainly is a lifestyle choice, because it's so involved," adds Hanks. "No one in our church gets paid to do what they do. Even the bishops are volunteers. Our bishop works in the foster care system. I'm a Sunday school teacher. I don't get paid for that."
But life doesn't revolve solely around the church. In our career-centric culture, Mormons—both men and women—are just as likely to be college-educated, and to have thriving careers.
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According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Mormons are actually more likely than the general population to have some college education. Sixty-one percent of Mormons have at least some college education, compared with half of the overall population.
As for income, most Mormon families fall into a middle income bracket; 38 percent of Mormons report earning between $50,000 and $100,000 annually.
And it's not just the menfolk bringing home the bacon. Though the 1995-issued Mormon Proclamation on the Family says men should provide for families while women should raise children, many women these days manage to juggle both career and family.
And for those who choose to stay at home—like Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, who focused on raising their five children—their role is no less crucial. In a recent interview, Ann shared that whatever job her husband was doing at the time, he regarded her job raising five sons as more significant, telling her, 'My job is temporary and your job is going to bring permanent happiness.'" Why Do Ladies Love Mitt Romney?
As I chat with mother-of-three Hanks about her daily life, she laughs and says she worries my article will be boring. She tells me the cult-like and polygamist vision of Mormonism as portrayed by the mainstream media represents just a teeny-tiny segment of the population. On the whole? The life she leads looks a lot like mine.
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But what about those who still practice polygamy, despite its criminalization? How do plural marriages play a part in the Mormon faith?