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Research Guide for D.Min Students: Data/Statistics Sources

A guide to research for D.Min Students

Finding the Numbers

Since the early days of religion in North America, denominational and missionary groups have collected data on their membership and activities. Throughout the 20th and 21st century, the sociological study of religion has led to further and more nuanced research into religious beliefs, customs, and communities in the United States. The ARDA has compiled much of this research, but denominationally-specific data can more likely be found on a denomination's own website (or archives).

For instance, the ELCA gathers data at the congregational, synodical, regional, and national level. The Lutheran World Federation compiles national statistics, as does the World Council of Churches. If you're having difficulty finding information about a particular denomination, contact the librarian for more help.

Governmental Statistics

  • United Nations Data 
    UN Data is a new internet-based data service for all. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point. Users can now search and download a variety of statistical resources of the UN system.
  • Statistical Abstracts of the United States 
    The Statistical Abstract of the United States (1878-2012), is a comprehensive, authoritative summary of statistics on the United States' social, political, and economic condition. Includes religion data, such as religious identification, religious bodies, church membership, and attendance
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics 
    This webstie is maintained by the Office of Justice Programs and contains a multitude of statistics about crime, victims, drug use, the U.S. Judicial System, corrections expenditures, and criminal justice related employment.
  • CIA World Fact Book 
    The CIA's website dedicated to facts about the world that includes maps, profiles, and other types of content. 

Religion Data

  • ELCA Research and Evaluation 
    ELCA Research and Evaluation offers users the opportunity to view research and statistics on individual congregations as well as synods. The data does require creating a personal login but data on the website is public available.
  • The ARDA 
    A free source of online information related to American and international religion. The archive seeks to democratize access to academic information on religion by making this information as widely accessible as possible. Features include maps, church  membership overviews, denominational heritage trees, historical timelines, tables, charges, and other summary reports.
  • Berman Jewish Databank 
    The Berman Jewish Databank at the Jewish Federations of North America acquires, archives, and provides access to quantitative studies and materials related to North American Jews and Jewish communities and promotes its use and encourages transparency in the public release of research.
    Note: Freely available resource
  • General Social Survey 
    Gathers data on contemporary society in the US in order to monitor and explain trends in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes. Among the topics covered are civil liberties, crime and violence, intergroup tolerance, morality, national spending priorities, psychological well-being, social mobility, and stress & traumatic events.
    Note: Freely available resource
  • The National Congregations Study 
    The NCS surveys a sample of America's churches, synagogues, and mosques. Initiated in 1998, and repeated in 2006 & 2012, the NCS is based on in-depth interviews of congregational leaders. The study documents information about worship, programs, staffing, and other characteristics of the average congregation in the US. The next study is expected throughout 2018.
    Note: Freely available resource
  • Pew Research Center for Religion & Public Life 
    The Pew Center seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public life in the US and globally. Through public opinion surveys, demographic studies and other social science research, they examine the religious composition of countries, the influence of religion on politics, the extent of government and social restrictions on religion, and views on abortion, same-sex marriage, stem cell research, and many other topics. 
    Note: Freely available resource
  • Religious Census of the United States, 1952-2010 
    The US Religion Census offers religious data at the county level. It reports the number of congregations in every U.S. county for each of 236 faith groups. Earlier religious censuses can be found in the library's print collections, under the title "Religious Bodies."
    Note: Freely available resource
  • U.S. Religious Bodies Census, pre-1950s 

    Note: Freely available resource

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