“A Path-Breaking Survey”

There is a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It is part of the Religious Landscape of the United States Project. The survey pool was 35,000 people – a huge undertaking. I think this will be a very important and significant image of American faith and will reveal the dynamic picture of spirituality/Christianity in this country. The results will be significant, too, in our politicized and polarized “conversation” (some might say war) between different expressions of the Christian faith in the U.S. and of who and what are (will be) the defining characteristics of Christian faith in the U.S.
I was somewhat surprised by the age distribution across the primary Christian groupings. Members of Mainline Protestants, within which the Episcopal Church is located (why or why?), are not nearly as old as I imagined and American-Evangelicalism membership is not nearly as young. The distribution is statistically the same and consistent across age bands.
Mainline Protestants, despite all the talk, talk, talk of inclusion and diversity, have the most lopsided distribution according to race – 91% “White (non-Hispanic)”. I’m frankly surprised by this… well not really, not really at all! Members of “Mainline Protestant Churches” are more segregated than all other Christian-faith groupings and just as segregated as the “Historically Black Protestant Churches” that have a 92% distribution of “Black (non-Hispanic)”. The Orthodox are the next most segregated Christian group and comes in at 87% White and Jews are 95% White, but both of those make sense.
Now, income distribution – Hindus and Jews are the most wealthy! Hindus? Go figure, but in some ways that makes sense, too. I was surprised that Evangelicals and Mainliners income distributions are almost the same. Once again, Jews and Hindus are the most educated.
And get this, there is an equal percentage of Evangelicals to Mainliners who report “Living with a Partner” when asked about their marital status – 5% for both (Catholics – 7%). I don’t know whether “partner” is defined exclusively as same-sex or not. AND, there is a 1% lead among Evangelicals (13%) over Mainliners (12%) who report being divorced. Catholics come in at 10%.
Finally, I was shocked, let me say it again – shocked, at the responses to the following item: “How many children at home…” With all the talk of family values among the Religious Right, I would have assumed lots of kids among American-Evangelicals and because of the traditional teachings, among Roman Catholics, too – but the vast majority of all faith-groups have no children at home: 65% of Evangelicals, 71% of Mainliners, and 61% of Roman Catholics have no children. I don’t think that represents issues of age (empty nesters, etc.). Hum….
Here is the main-page for the Survey where you will find the statistics.
Here is a LA Times article on the Survey endeavor
Update: Here is a good American-Evangelical response to the project/survey results from Christianity Today online.
Here is a video overview from the Pew Forum study:

Hat-tip to Titusonenine