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Religion: Data and Statistics  

Last Updated: Apr 15, 2013 URL: http://libguides.lib.msu.edu/religiondata Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Popular Resources

  • Social Explorer
    Social Explorer creates maps and reports of religious congregations based on the Religious Congregations and Membership Study for 1980, 1990, 2000 and has 2009 data from the InfoGroup American Church Lists.
  • Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA)
    This comprehensive resource is more than just a data archive! Also included are National Profiles, reports and maps of U.S. Congregational Membership, information on Denominations, QuickStats from major national surveys, ranked lists of religious groups, maps, and a Learning Center.
  • Adherents.com
    Adherents.com is a collection of more than 41,000 "adherent statistics and religious geography citations." It has no specific affiliation and claims to be the second most frequently visited general religion site on the internet. It provides access to statistics on religious groups broken down by geographical area and by name of faith group.

Statistical Indexes & Databases

  • Major Statistical Indexes & Databases
    Link to guide with descriptions of the major multidisciplinary subscription statistical indexes and databases at the MSU Libraries
  • Data-Planet
    This is a powerful interdisciplinary database that assembles statistical information from government and private sources in one single interface.
  • Statista
    Statista is a statistics portal that provides data on over 80,000 topics from more than 10,000 different sources including agriculture, advertising, health, hospitality, consumer goods, and much more.
  • ProQuest Statistical Insight
    Indexes and abstracts statistical publications from the US government, state governments, international organizations, and professional associations.
 

Introduction

“To represent the religious history of America statistically and geographically is to generalize dangerously to court disaster openly.”
 

Statistics on religion, like most other statistics, must be interpreted with a critical eye.  Data on religion may be reported at either the insitutional level or the individual level.  That is, there are surveys of religious insitutions themselves and there are surveys of individuals and their self-reported attitudes and affilitiations.  Keep in mind that surveys of religious institutions are also self-reporting, so over-reporting of membership is more likely that under-reporting.  The diversity of religious organizations and varying definitions of membership can also have an effect on comparing membership numbers among different organizations.  Some organizations may not share reports with the public, or even keep numbers.  There has been no government-mandated count of religious organizations since the last Religious Bodies census taken in 1936. 

Most of the resources that you encounter in this guide will have a disclaimer explaining the collection method and nature of the data.  Be sure to read this section!
 

Getting Started

Population: Religion. This section includes tables on the religious composition of the U.S. population, selected data on religious bodies, and numbers of Christian adherents and the Jewish population by state.

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Hailey Mooney
 
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