Methodists are still Baptists who can read

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneTweet about this on Twitter

Income by Religions:

Good has a rather unwieldy graph showing religion by income. No surprises, with Jews first and Hindus second in percent with six figure incomes, and Jehovah’s Witnesses and black Protestant churches last. It would be interesting to know whether there are still affluence distinctions mainline white Protestants, such as Episcopalian v. Methodist.

On a national level, there are. Pew’s Religious Landscape Survey has detailed tables on educations, income, etc., broken down by denomination. Here’s a table I created (I left out historically black denominations). The values are percentages in each category, though the last column is a ratio:

Denomination < $30 K $30 – $49 K $50 – $74 K $75 – $99 K $100 K + Post-grad Liberal ($100 K income)/(Post-grad)
Episcopal 16 19 11 18 35 27 26 1.3
Presbyterian Church USA 16 19 19 18 28 24 16 1.17
United Methodist 23 21 19 16 22 14 14 1.57
Disciplines of Christ 31 14 21 14 20 17 12 1.18
Presbyterian Church in America (Evangelical) 34 20 16 12 18 13 14 1.38
United Church of Christ 27 20 21 14 18 21 21 0.86
Evangelical Lutheran 24 24 21 15 17 11 15 1.55
Lutheran, Missouri Synod (Evangelical) 24 20 20 18 17 9 12 1.89
Southern Baptist 30 25 19 11 15 7 10 2.14
Church of Christ 37 24 17 11 11 6 12 1.83
Independent Baptist 37 25 17 11 11 5 9 2.2
Seventh-Day Adventist 46 26 10 7 11 5 16 2.2
American Baptist 46 22 16 9 8 5 16 1.6
Assemblies of God 41 26 15 11 8 4 6 2
Total Population 31 22 17 13 18 11 20 1.64

I ordered by % with more than $100,000 per year income, except for the total American population, which is at the bottom. The relationship between education and income is pretty strong on a denominational level:

I was curious if there was a relationship between liberalism and being relatively poor in relation to educational attainment. The United Church of Christ stands out here. So here’s a plot:

This probably needs to be looked at in more detail, this was just a “quick & dirty.” Though it is striking to me how the 19th century truism of a social rank order of Episcopal > Presbyterian > Methodist > Baptists, seems to obtain in the early 21st century. Sensitivity to initial conditions.


  1. Am I wrong, or does this post not assume intelligence correllates with denomination?…an hypothesis reinforced by the post title, and even the blog title. Might there be other reasons for a group being on the low end other than heredity and intelligence? Is it really so that any right-thinking person naturally strives to be as high up on the income ladder as possible?

    Since the study deals with church denominations, suppose that a given organization actually applied thoughts such as that at 1 Tim 6:7-10?

    “For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things. However, those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”

    I’m from one of the “lower performing” faiths, and we’re all the time striving to ‘simplify’ our lives, in harmony with the above counsel. As individuals, we have many that would, in any case, be on the ‘less income’ level, but we also have many who have deliberately lowered their standards of living so that material things do not infringe upon spiritual values. Thus, the overall income level is skewed downward.

    Would that not be expected from people who actually applied the Bible’s counsel?


    there’s plenty of evidence that baptists are less intelligence than episcopalians.

    anyway, how’d a creationist like you get to this weblog? you seem to be the second in a few days….

  3. The term “Evangelical” is totally confusing with Lutherans. In the 18th or 19th c. there was an evangelical reform movement within the German and Scandinavian churches, and most American Lutherans trace back to that. The ELCA are the mainline non-evangelical Lutherans, and Missouri Synod and others are the Evangelicals.

    However, someone who wants charismatic experience and emotional religion will not stay in either Lutheran church. The Missouri Synod is more conservative and fundamentalist, but no more charismatic. Not letting it all hang out and not getting all excited about things are a core Lutheran values that survive loss of religious faith.

  4. Income likely correlates with internal locus of control vs. external locus of control. Heavily doctrinal versions of Christianity appeal to those of external locus of control whereas the more rational and moderate versions of Christianity (Episcopal) appeal to those of internal locus of control. People with internal locus of control have little interest in religious doctrine.

  5. I’m not sure what the “liberal” criterion is measuring — liberal political ideology, liberal arts education, liberal theology? (I’d say many Catholics have relatively liberal politics combined with a fairly unyielding theology.) Is it a composite score of some kind?

  6. John’s description of Lutheranism sounds appealing to me. My family used to attend a Methodist church before it got invaded by evangelicals who demanded enthusiastic singing. Then we attended an American Baptist one whose liberalism bothered some of us before settling on a Lutheran one. I’m not sure if it was Missouri synod though.

  7. Lots of people in the Northeast make more than 100k, so I was curious as to whether concentration in the Northeast could explain these differences. The Pew study has data by region, and there is of course a correlation with Northeast concentration and numbers making 100k+. But the relationship described holds even after accounting for that.

    Here’s a comparison of % of each denomination earning 100+ and their predicted % based on their concentration in the Northeast using OLS, in case anyone’s interested.

  8. zeil, you get 10 stars! if more readers took a tiny bit of time to do stuff like this there’d be so much more quantitative analysis out there. a lot of it is investing the labor, and only a few bloggers are doing it right now. if lots of people just allocated a tiny fraction of their time to slicing up the data then the burden wouldn’t be on the shoulders of a few.

    *sermon off*

  9. You’re right, brother Razza, praise the Lord. It’s time for repenting and atoning.

  10. I’ve been getting into social and status-climbing lately, so I think I’ll join the Episcopal Church. Valid move, yes?

  11. “I’ve been getting into social and status-climbing lately, so I think I’ll join the Episcopal Church. Valid move, yes?”

    ‘Twas ever thus. Read E. Digby Baltzell for the paradigmatic example of that of rich Philadelphia Quakers changing their denomination to Episcopalian.

  12. evan, if you want to be seen as a “serious” person, perhaps you could become a presbyterian?

  13. I had a thought along those lines, Razib. I also thought, as I made my first comment, that there’s no way I could make even a fashionable Christian identity tolerable for me or believable to anyone else.

  14. Too bad you left off the Unitarian Universalists. They generally give the Episcopalians a run for their money, so to speak.

    Prairie Mary

  15. mary, UU + other “liberal faiths,” 26% 100K + and 29% post-grad. a modestly less wealthy, but a bit more educated. but the UU sample is a bit younger than the episcopalians, so it might just be that fewer are at peak earning….

  16. How much of the correlation comes from dropouts? My family is Episcopalian. I’m the black sheep, and I would just be ashamed to go church and show off my 0 success. If we were Baptists, and there were lots o’ other failures there, I think I’d be more willing to be part of the community.

  17. The ELCA are the mainline non-evangelical Lutherans

    You’re aware that that the E stands for Evangelical, right? I guess the word has changed connotations over the years, but it seems strange to label a group whose name starts with “evangelical” as “non-evangelical”.

Leave a Reply