Weighing in with a whopping 23% of the state’s population, Latter-Day Saints make up the biggest religious denomination in Idaho, beating both Evangelicals (22%) and Catholics (18%). This statistic came as a surprise to us; during our journey through Idaho, we didn’t notice much Mormon influence at all… that is, at least, until we reached the southeastern corner of the state.
After Utah, Idaho has the country’s second-highest percentage of Mormons. Their predominance in the eastern part of the state isn’t too surprising; Utah is just below the border, and Mormon missionaries began arriving in Idaho as far back as 1860. Cities such as Idaho Falls and Rexburg are almost entirely Mormon, with temples that dominate both religious and political life.
There’s no denying that some friction exists between the LDS and non-LDS factions of Idaho, whether it’s anti-Mormonism, or discrimination against non-Mormons. There has been a history of laws in the state targeting the LDS, including now-antiquated ones which barred Mormons from voting and holding public office. But the tyranny of the majority is a two-way street. Without thinking, I ordered a coffee in Rexburg. It was the worst coffee I’ve ever had in my life; cold and watery, at least three days old with a pile of grinds in the bottom. Coffee in a Mormon town: not recommended.