Pew Religion in America

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Pew is out with a new survey of religion in America. I’ve only skimmed it so far, but it has lots of interesting stuff. Note for example that this survey suggests that are marginally more self-identified Buddhists in America than Muslims (this is probably a function of the fact that Buddhism, and generally Buddhist ideas and concepts, have a much wider appeal to white Americans than Islam, whose “product” is less strong differentiated from forms of Christianity).

Check the methodology.

Via Rod Dreher.

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19 Comments

  1. re: my comment about buddhists, see this: 
    http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-chapter-2.pdf 
     
    0.4% raised as buddhists, 0.7% now buddhists. buddhism is probably the most “high churn” religious tradition in america; social science data suggests it has serious issues with retention (see one nation under god, kosmin), but it also acquires a lot of newcomers (there are 50% more white buddhists in america thn asian buddhists).

  2. I’m surprised at the numbers for Orthodox Christianity. Given even a modest recruitment of new members, and an equally modest loss of born members, I would have expected the current affiliation percentage to be slightly higher than the childhood. 
     
    Perhaps the effect was so small it was lost in rounding?

  3. Any info about the celebrity factor in the case of Buddhism? As Buddhism has been one of the trendy religions of the Hollywood set.

  4. Any info about the celebrity factor in the case of Buddhism? As Buddhism has been one of the trendy religions of the Hollywood set. 
     
    doesn’t mention that. but i suspect that’s not causal, rather, it’s an effect. white buddhists tend to be of the same liberal prius driving set that celebrities either derive from or identify with.

  5. Your point about resemblances between Islam and Christianity is borne out by Steve Jones’ article in today’s Telegraph. He refers to an anti-evolution group amomg the Muslim students at University College London. That’s the Muslim medical students.

  6. I’m happy to notice that “Unaffiliated”, ie no religion is the most youthful group, with 31% being age 18-29 – higher than for any other group. 
     
    Or then they haven’t decided yet…

  7. UK-Econ: Or then they haven’t decided yet… 
     
    It claims “Religious unaffiliated” is 5.8% of the 16.1% composite unaffiliated. 
     
    Another interesting shift is the 1.5% of the population raised as nondenominational Protestant has resulted in 4.5% who currently report as such, along with the ‘Nothing in particular’ group’s shift from 6.6% to 12.1%. 
     
    Also razib, how does your comment about Buddhism being more amenable (than Islam) to American’s Christian sensibilities mesh with the table in Chapter 2 on page 6 of the pdf: 40% of Muslims came from outside the Muslim religion. 
     
    True, the Buddhist figure is 73%, so comparably Buddhism may be more amenable. But Islam’s 40% figure isn’t remotely close to the 10% Hindu figure, the 11% Catholic figure, the 15% Jewish figure. Maybe more exposure to Islam (and greater missionary spirit) can explain the conversion rate, but  
     
    Another note, I wonder how many of the 24% of people who raised Protestant but later converted to Islam are like these people.

  8. “But Islam’s 40% figure isn’t remotely close to the 10% Hindu figure, the 11% Catholic figure, the 15% Jewish figure.” 
     
    Sometimes you need percentages, sometimes actual numbers. 
     
    These figures are affected by the initial size of the religion being converted to – it stands to reason that initially low sized religions may have higher adult conversions, but this tells us nothing unless we know the initial size of the converted to group relative to the total population. A statistically insignificant number of adult conversions from the majority religion can cause a statically very significant number of conversions to the minority religion. Depends on relative sizes. 
     
    In your statistical analysis therefore it is certain that conversions to Catholicism dwarfs – in actual numbers – the conversions to the other religions, even though papists have the lowest adult percentage they started higher. 
     
    It is surprisingly high, actually.

  9. Also razib, how does your comment about Buddhism being more amenable (than Islam) to American’s Christian sensibilities mesh with the table in Chapter 2 on page 6 of the pdf: 40% of Muslims came from outside the Muslim religion. 
     
    re: 
     
    True, the Buddhist figure is 73%

  10. “Another note, I wonder how many of the 24% of people who raised Protestant but later converted to Islam are like these people.” 
     
    Do they count groups like Nation of Islam as Muslim ? 
     
    That would probably explain a huge chunk of the figure.

  11. Do they count groups like Nation of Islam as Muslim? 
     
    That would probably explain a huge chunk of the figure. 
     
    the current consensus is that as an organized movement the nation of islam is a tiny minority of black muslims. you regularly see the number “10,000″ members quoted. they have more influence than their numbers among black muslims, partly because of history (they were the gateway for people who later became traditional muslims, like muhammad ali), and partly because of their activist sensibilities.

  12. but yes, conversion to islam is disproportionately a “black thing” for native born americans. only a few percent of black americans are muslim, but for a religion with a few million people that’s a substantial minority of its base. remember that middle eastern people are classified white on the census, so most of those white muslims are likely to be of that group.

  13. remember that middle eastern people are classified white on the census, so most of those white muslims are likely to be of that group. 
     
    There also are a lot of Muslims in America who really are white, not just in Census terms, mainly Albanians and Bosnians.

  14. Been playing around with the map more and was surprised to see that Oregon leads the western U.S. in Evangelical Protestants (I thought mainline protestants would dominate). This contradicts my observations. Of course, I could be biased since I live in the Willamette valley.

  15. There also are a lot of Muslims in America who really are white, not just in Census terms, mainly Albanians and Bosnians. 
     
    most syrians and turks pass as white, so i wasn’t saying that to indicate that they were faux-white. rather, just to say that these weren’t converts. 
     
    Been playing around with the map more and was surprised to see that Oregon leads the western U.S. in Evangelical Protestants (I thought mainline protestants would dominate). This contradicts my observations. Of course, I could be biased since I live in the Willamette valley. 
     
    in the northeast people are mostly affiliated, but not intensely. lots of cultural catholics, jews and mainliners. in the northwest many more are disaffiliated, but those who are affiliated tend to be more intense.

  16. I would have thought Orthodox Christians were on the rise too. Perhaps there overall numbers are still small. They are exactly the same as the muslims, in numbers, in the US. 
     
    I wonder how muslims explain, after the falling asleep of abu bakr, the “rightly guided” caliphs all being murdered? It seems violence was always the M.O. from “Mo” 
     
    A terribly fascinating religion.

  17. The most important upcoming religion was not mentioned – unsurprisingly. 
     
    The new age gaiia – pc cult. 
     
    I think the demographics would be close to the unaffiliated group or perhaps the converted buddhists. 16.1 % of the total. my expectation was a bicoastal concentration but it is pretty even with the national distribution. young white income distr pretty close to national. in fact the only place where they differ markedly from the national avg is in marital status – much higher living w partner/ never married. 
     
    In any event a very dangerous and disturbing demographic. For my 2 cents, they are the biggest threat to the western tradition of reasoned inquiry than any organized religion. In large part because they are not always percieved as threat to reason, as most (as eg.) bible belt types are. The situation in Europe is considerably worse.  
     
    I wonder often if this group will be the eventual death knell of rationalism that has characterised western civillization for the last few centuries.  
     
    I despair, for I see the inevitable signs of this decadence everywhere. from the kind of things that this blog rants about, to PC to the current messianic revivalism going on. 
     
    Sorry for a slightly off topic post.

  18. the 16.1% is split: 
    http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2008/02/the_two_streams_of_american_ir.php

  19. Vicneo, please explain more. I like what you’re getting at. Then I can ask a few more questions.

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