Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pew Religious Landscape Study

If you are interested in the state of American religion you will want to spend some time with the recently released Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center.  It is loaded with interesting statistics about religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in the United States.

Here are a few findings that caught my attention:

  • 70% of Americans are Christians and about 25% of American are evangelical Protestants.
  • Tennessee is the only state in the union with an evangelical majority.  (Kentucky and Alabama are close).
  • Baptists make up the larger segment of evangelicals in the United States (9.2%) followed by "nondenominational" (4.9%)
  • Seventh Day Adventists are listed as "Evangelical Protestants."
  • There are more "Nones" (no religious affiliation) in the United States than Catholics
  • There are more "Nones" than mainline Protestants
  • The Muslim population in the United States is less than 1%
  • There are more atheists in the United States than Jews and Muslims combined.
  • In Pennsylvania, where I live, Catholics, mainline Protestants and Nones outnumber evangelicals.
  • Close to half of American Muslims are between the ages of 18-29
  • Just over half of Americans between the ages of 18-29 believe in God; 70% of Americans over 70 years of age believe in God.
  • Only 24% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 turn to religion as a source of guidance on right and wrong. 47% of them make moral decisions based on common sense.
  • Only 23% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 believe that there are clear standards for what is right and wrong.
  • The belief in heaven in the United States is high.  Also, well more than half of Americans believe in hell.
  • 76% of American evangelicals are white.  88% of mainline Protestants are white
  • Black Americans pray more than any other ethnic or racial group, including whites.  The same thing is true for religious education.
  • Black Americans believe in heaven and hell at a much higher rate than any other ethnic or racial group
  • The average Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Black Protestant, Jehovah's Witness, and Muslim makes less than $30,000 a year.
  • The average Hindu makes $100,000 or more a year.  So does the average Jew.
  • Nearly half of American Hindus have a post-graduate degree.  More than half of Black Protestants have a high school degree or less.
  • Jehovah Witnesses are the most uneducated religious group in the United States
  • 42% of Americans with high school degrees or less believe the Bible should be taken literally.  Only 14% of Americans with post-graduate degrees believe this.
  • Mormons have the highest percentage of married members.   Hindus are second in this category
  • Widows tend to pray and read the Bible more than Americans who are married, living with a partner, divorced, separated, or never married.  
  • Mormons, Hindus, and Muslims are having more kids than evangelical Protestants and Catholics.
  • 28% of evangelical Protestants are Democrats
  • 64% of evangelical Protestants and 64% of Mormons believe that government aid to the poor "does more harm than good."
  • 33% of evangelical Protestants believe that abortion should be legal. 48% of Catholics believe this.
  • Americans who are opposed abortion attend church at a much higher rate than those who believe abortion should be legal.
  • 70% of Catholics believe that homosexuality "should be accepted."
  • 57% of Catholics strongly favor same-sex marriage.  Only 28% of evangelical Protestants support same sex marriage.  60% of Black Protestants oppose same-sex marriage.
  • Evangelical Protestants are nearly split over the issue of stricter environmental laws and regulations.
  • 38% of evangelical Protestants believe in some kind of evolution.