Finding Relatively Current Statistics

The most recent general statistical information about religious groups.

Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1973-. [Ref. BR513.Y42 (back issues in stacks)]

Contains statistical data based on reports from U.S. and Canadian denominations. Not every denomination reports annual figures, and each denomination determines its own statistical criteria. Detailed information is included only for religious groups which identify themselves as distinctively Christian; the yearbook is published under the auspices of the National Council of Churches of Christ. Reported data includes membership figures, financial contributions (both as percentage change from last year and as raw numbers), per capita contribution levels, and the number of congregations, clergy, and Sunday schools. The yearbook also tracks seminary enrollment, including tables for women and ethnic minorities from data supplied by the Association of Theological Schools.

Handbook of Denominations in the United States. Nashville: Abingdon Press. [Ref. BL2525.M425 2010 (back issues in stacks)]

An excellent general introduction to U.S. "denominations," including movements like Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Unitarian Universalism. Contains limited statistical information, including only the number of congregations and total membership.

Melton, J. Gordon. Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions.  Detroit: Gale Cengage Learning, c2009. Previous editions titled: Encyclopedia of American Religions. [Ref. BL2525 .M449 2009]

Includes descriptive entries on over 2,100 religious groups in North America, with historical information, current membership, and bibliographic references. The particular strengths of this encyclopedia are its attention to non-Christian religious groups and to new and small religious movements; it also includes descriptions of defunct religious movements of the recent past.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts. New York: Press Pub. Co. (The New York World), 1923-.

Summarizes information available in other sources. Includes membership figures gathered by the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches; continental distributions of world religions as tabulated by the Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year; various religious calendars; and a current list of the North American members of the Roman Catholic College of Cardinals. Available in various Harvard libraries [Valid Harvard ID and PIN required.]

Britannica Book of the Year. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1938-. [Ref. AE5.E364 See HOLLIS for locations)]

Contains articles on significant annual developments in each major religious group. Also reports the continental distributions and national (U.S.) distributions of major religions. The World Data section includes religious affiliation statistics for each nation. Current data is available in the online version.

Finding Recent Statistics

Statistical information covering the last half-century, including comparative analysis, maps, and general trends.

2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study: An Enumeration by Nation, State, and County Based on Data Reported for 236 Religious Groups conducted by] the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.  Kansas City, Mo.: Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, 2012. [Ref. BL2525 .A15 2010]

Religious Congregations and Membership in the United States, 2000: An Enumeration by Region, State, and County, Based on Data Reported by 149 Religious Bodies. Nashville, Tenn.: Glenmary Research Center, 2002. [Ref. BR526.R485 2002]

Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1990: An Enumeration by Region, State, and County, Based on Data Reported for 133 Church Groupings. Atlanta, Ga.: Glenmary Reseach Center, 1992. [Ref. BR526.C48 1992]

Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1980: An Enumeration by Region, State, and County, Based on Data Reported by 111 Church Bodies. Atlanta, Ga.: Glenmary Research Center, 1982. [Ref. BR526.C48 1982]

Johnson, Douglas W. Churches and Church Membership in the United States: An Enumeration by Region, State, and County; 1971. Washington: Glenmary Research Center, [1974]. [Ref. BR526.C48 1971]

These five 10-year reports present national, state, and county statistics of "Judeo-Christian church bodies or groupings" (including groups which are not included in the National Council of the Churches of Christ's Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches); the report for 2000 includes some figures for other faith traditions. Each identifies the number of congregations, members, and total adherents of each denomination at each geographical level, and also presents the percentage of adherents in a particular communion to the total population and the percentage of adherents in a particular communion to the total religious adherents at each geographical level. Since each denomination determines its figures differently, variations in denominational reporting methods are described. See especially Atlas of Religious Change in America, 1952-1990Ref. G1201.E4 H3 1994, which presents this same data visually and provides interpretive commentary.

Churches and Church Membership in the United States; An Enumeration and Analysis by Counties, States and Regions. New York: National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Bureau of Research and Survey, 1956-58. [Ref. BR526.C48 1956]

A serial publication which presents the data collected for U.S. church membership in 1952 by the National Council of Churches. Unlike the census reports through 1936, which collected data from individual congregations directly, this study gathered information from 114 religious organizations and denominations representing 182,856 individual churches and 74 million members. The data are presented in serial form: Ser. A:no.1-4, "Major Faiths by Regions, Divisions, and States"; B:no.1-8, "Denominational Statistics by Regions, Divisions, and States"; C:no.1-59, "Denominational Statistics by States and Counties"; D:no.1-6, "Denominational Statistics by Metropolitan Areas"; E:no.1-3, "Socioeconomic Characteristics."

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. Edited by Jack Salzman, David Lionel Smith, Cornel West. 5 vols. New York: Macmillan Library Reference USA; Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1996. [Ref. E185.E54 1996 vol. 5]

See Appendix 13 (pp. 3041-3046 in Volume 5) for a section on statistics concerning predominantly black denominations. Two tables present information from the 1890, 1916, and 1936 census reports. Additional tables present statistical trends in a variety of denominations using information drawn from several different sources, for the periods 1950-1975 and 1976-1993. A final set of tables presents information about racially mixed denominations.

Kosmin, Barry Alexander. Research Report: The National Survey of Religious Identification, 1989-90: (Selected Tabulations). [New York: Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York], 1991. [Pamph. folio v. 2025]

This 14-page document reports selected findings of a 1989-1990 telephone survey of 113,000 adults in the continental United States. The report gives weighted estimates of self-identified adherents of various religions (which can be contrasted in interesting ways with the membership counts provided in the preceding studies by official church groups). Other data include marital status, educational level, social characteristics, racial identification, household size, political party affiliation, and ethnic origins for selected religions. The study also reports the religious compositions of state populations.

O'Brien, Joanne. The State of Religion Atlas. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993. [Ref G1046.E4 O2 1993]

Thirty-four fascinating maps present a wide variety of contemporary religious statistics. Examples include: the locations and audiences of religious broadcasts; the extent of Islamic banking practices worldwide (since the Qur'an forbids charging or taking interest); the impact of the Holocaust on European Jewish populations, combined with the extent of contemporary anti-Semitic incidents in Europe; and the prominence of feminine figures of religious devotion in the world's religions. Brief descriptive essays at the back provide additional information about the maps, but the maps themselves are immediately accessible and quite interesting.

Halvorson, Peter L. Atlas of Religious Change in America, 1952-1990. Atlanta, Ga.: Glenmary Research Center, 1994. [Ref. G1201.E4 H3 1994]

Provides especially useful cartographic representations of religious adherence statistics between 1952 and 1990, using data collected in the Glenmary Research Center's Churches and Church Membership in the United States series (1971, 1980, 1990). Three maps for each denomination portray membership statistics by county, showing (1) 1990 totals, (2) the percentage change between 1980 and 1990, and (3) the share of population in 1990. Two additional maps are included for denominations which participated in the 1952 study as well as in the three later reports: the first depicts the changes in membership prior to 1971 compared to changes since 1971; the second depicts changes in a denomination's share of county population, again using 1971 as a midpoint. Each set of maps includes a helpful interpretive essay. [For earlier data, see Edwin Scott Gaustad, Historical Atlas of Religion in America, rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), Ref. G1201.E4 G3 1976].

Religion in America. The Gallup Opinion Index. Princeton, N.J.: American Institute of Public Opinion. [BL2530.U6 R4 issues in stacks]

Reports the results of ongoing polls of American religious beliefs and practices, with some interpretive commentary. This index tracks broad and general trends only.

Rosten, Leo Calvin, ed. Religions of America: Ferment and Faith in an Age of Crisis: A New Guide and Almanac. [Expanded version of the work first published in 1955 as A Guide to the Religions of America; and in 1963 as Religions in America.] New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975. [672 p.; 22 cm.] [Ref. BR516.5.R67 1975]