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Religion Data and Statistics   Tags: data, religion, statistics  

Last Updated: Dec 19, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Religion & the US Census

Historical Census Browser (UVA)
The US census included questions pertaining to religious affiliation from 1850-1950. Use the Census Browser to explore this historic data.

Religious Bodies (1906-1936)
The Census Bureau collected information on religious bodies from 1906-1936. See also: 1906 Special Report on African American Religious Bodies.

A Brief History of Religion and the U.S. Census: Overview from the Pew Forum on the history of religious questions appearing on the US Census. Questions about religion have not appeared on the census since the 1950s. In 1976, Congress made this official by amending the census law to prohibit any mandatory question pertaining to a person's "religious beliefs or to membership in a religious body."


Association of Religion Data Archives

The ARDA is an essential access point to quantitative data sets on religion. The site aggregates data from a wide variety of sources, covering all subjects, from congregational statistics to religious profiles for countries worldwide. Users can view reports, maps, and charts, or download raw data files for analysis with statistical software. While some international data sets are available, the greatest strength of the ARDA is its collections of data on religion in the United States.

Top Resources

  • Statistical Abstract
    Compendium of US statistics that provides tables on religious bodies, religious preference, church membership, and attendance. Statistics are drawn from National Council of Churches, the Religious Congregations and Membership in the United States (Glenmary Research Center), Jewish Data Bank and more.
  • General Social Survey (GSS)
    The GSS is a major ongoing sociological survey that collects demographic and attitudinal data from the American public. It is a highly regarded tool in the social sciences and includes variables of interest to both students and scholars of religion. To access the section on religion data, select Browse GSS Variables and click Subject Index. Select R and then Religion to access the variables for which data is provided.
  • National Congregations Study (NCS)
    The NCS surveys a representative sample of America's churches, synagogues, mosques and other local places of worship. It gathers information about a wide range of characteristics and activities of congregations. Mark Chaves, Professor of Sociology, Religion, and Divinity at Duke University, directs this study. A 2012 study is underway.
  • Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
    The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducts surveys, performs demographic analyses, and utilizes other social research tools in order to gain a better picture of the role religion plays in everyday life. A useful resource for examining data and analyses on the impact of religion in the United States.
  • ProQuest Statistical Insight (Duke WWW)
    The ProQuest Statistical Insight indexes a variety of statistical sources published by the US government, international organizations, and many state government agencies and private companies. To access religion data, go to an Advanced search and select a Subject/Index search for religion. Hitting the List button will expand additional options if you check the religion section.

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