US Religious Survey

“Religion is the single most important factor that drives American belief attitudes and behaviors . . . It is a powerful indicator of where America will end up on politics, culture, family life. If you want to understand America, you have to understand religion in America.”

Michael Lindsay, assistant director of the Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life at Rice University, as quoted in the NYTimes article that points to this Pew survey.. (I might argue that there are a lot of other issues like materialism that need to be taken into consideration, but his point is well-taken.)

An extensive new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life details the religious affiliation of the American public and explores the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid.

A Summary of Key Findings [The full study – all 143 pages (1MB PDF) can be downloaded from here.]

Elesha Coffman raises some concerns with the classification systems used in the report – e.g. “evangelical” – at Christianity Today’s website.

“self-reported”:

78.4% Christian
51.3 Protestant

26.3 Evangelical
18.1 Mainline
6.9 Historically black

23.9 Catholic
1.7 Mormon
0.7 Jehovah’s witness
0.6 Orthodox

1.7 Jewish
0.7 Buddhist
0.6 Muslim
0.4 Hindu
0.7 Unitarian
0.4 New Age

16.1% Unaffiliated

1.6 Atheist
2.4 Agnostic
12.1 Nothing in particular

Summary of Key Findings:

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

The survey finds that Continue reading