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Michigan State University

Religions of the World: Statistics

This is a guide to researching religions of the world: Western and Eastern Christianity, Eastern religions, Islam, Bahai, New Age Movements, Judaism. Last updated 06-26-2023


Religion: Data and Statistics is an M.S.U. Libraries' research guide to statistical information about religion. 

For help with manipulation of data, managing data, making data sets, Jonathan Barber (517-884-8024 in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL, Main Library, 2nd floor, West wing, 517-355-4104), is the data librarian.

2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations and Membership Study  Main BL 2525 .A15 2010

An Enumeration by Nation, State and County Based on Data Reported for 236 Religious Groups.  Put out by Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB), with funding by Lilly Endowment, Inc.  Funding for Buddhist and Hindu counts by John Templeton Foundation.  Financial contributioins also from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Staff at the Research Services of the Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center in Lenexa, Kansas distributed the surveys, collected the data, and prepared it for publication.  Over 700 pages. Covers 236 religious bodies or groups (aka denominations) providing number of congregations, average number of attenders of services, number of adherents, number of confirmed members, for each state and each county within each state.  Look here for more info.

Association of Religion Data Archives.   Formerly American Religion Data Archive, ARDA.  From Pennsylvania State University it is a project funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and the John Templeton Foundation and acts to preserve quantitative data on American religion, to improve access to this data, to increase the use of the data, and to allow comparisons across data files. Collection includes data on churches and church membership, religious professionals, and religious groups (individuals, congregations and denominations).  Includes Congregational Resource Center with religious affiliation data alongside a number of indexes about religious freedom in particular countries.  Teaching tools, lesson plans, sample syllabi for religious studies and social science classrooms.  Interactive timelines highlight history of religion in U.S. and trace development of a number of religions over time

Yearbook of  American and Canadian Churches. Main BR 513 .Y4 Annual. Published by Abingdon Press. Similar to Catholic Almanac and Official Catholic Directory in function, which is quick factual and name/address information on denominations, para-church organizations, ecumenical bodies, church archives and records collections, religious periodicals, and seminaries in the U.S. and Canada. Also has statistical information on church membership and church finances.  Spring, 2019 YACC is on hiatus as a print publication.  It is being re-envisioned as an online publication called Yearbook of Churches and is under the leadership of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. See next two entries.

Yearbook of Churches

Developing online version of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.This resource has been the definitive handbook of information about denominations since 1916. The goal of the online site is to offer: statistics of church membership and finance; descriptions of denominations; listings of denominations by families; names, postal and e-mail addresses of religious group leaders and headquarters.  They are working with the Lake Institute, Indiana University,and the Lilly Foundation.  The Browse tab at the top of the page offers access to the information that is presently available online. 

Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies

Working with the developing online Yearbook of Churches.  They gather statistics on American religious bodies. Their products/projects include adherents, cultural group adherents, and U.S. Religion Census.

Official Catholic Directory. Main BX 845 .C5
Annual. Published for the Vatican. Directory information for the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S., the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, Pacific Islands, and foreign missionary activities. Includes directory information on seminaries, religious orders, archdioceses, dioceses, parishes, parochial schools. Also has statistical information.

Catholic Almanac. Main BX 845 .C3
Annual. Published by Our Sunday Visitor. Four parts: News and events, teachings of the Catholic Church, Church universal (history and organization), and life of the Church in the world. Names and addresses, brief facts and information. Some information on Eastern Orthodoxy, but more on Roman Catholicism.

World Christian Encyclopedia. Main oversize  BR 157 .W67 2020  Statistics on religion by country, region of the world, etc.

Atlas of Global Christianity 1910-2010 Map Library Circulating Collection Reference atlas stand BR 479 .A72 2009 Supp. Material in DMC 4th floor West

American Religious Identification Survey 2008 (ARIS)

ARIS 2008 is the third in a landmark time series of large, nationally representative surveys that track changes in the religious loyalties of the U.S. adult population within the 48 contiguous states from 1990 to 2008. The 2001 and 2008 surveys are replicas of the 1990 survey, and are led by the same academic research team using an identical methodology of random-digit-dialed telephone interviews (RDD) and the same unprompted, open-ended key question ''What is your religion, if any?'' Interviewers did not prompt or offer a suggested list of potential answers. Moreover, the self-description of respondents was not based on whether established religious bodies or institutions considered them to be members. To the contrary, the surveys sought to determine whether the respondents regarded themselves as adherents of a religious community. The surveys tap subjective rather than objective standards of religious identification. The value of this unique series of national surveys, which allows scientific monitoring of change over time, has been recognized by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The Bureau itself is constitutionally precluded from such an inquiry into religion, and so has incorporated NSRI/ARIS findings into its official publication the Statistical Abstract of the United States since 2003. The principal investigators: Harry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, both of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut's Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. Established in 2005, the nonpartisan, multidisciplinary ISSC works on advancing understanding of the role of secular values and the process of secularization in contemporary society and culture.

British Religion in Numbers

Hosted by University of Manchester.  Data sets and opinion surveys from Britain on religious affiliation, public knowledge about the life of Jesus, public attitudes about the truthworthiness of the clergy, etc.  Also historical data about religion in Great Britain.