Monday, February 25, 2008

My Reactions, Both Serious and Lighthearted, to the Recent Pew Religious Landscape Survey

The Pew Forum has released a new Religious Landscape Survey (HT: Dallas Morning News Religion Blog). There's a lot of interesting (in a nerdy, I've-spent-way-too-much-time-in-a-library sort of way) data in there. Somehow stuck on the strange notion that, given the choice between solid scientific data and my off-the-wall opinions, you'll bother to read my opinions anyway, I offer them below:

  1. The lowest percentage of the religiously unaffiliated in the entire United States goes to the state of Mississippi. I wonder whether they took the poll before or after Pete and Delmar got baptized and saved?
  2. Only two categories of affiliation have a higher percentage of adherents than Southern Baptists (6.7%): Roman Catholics (23.9%) and "Nothing in Particular" (12.1%). I wonder which are more ready for evangelism, those already a part of some faith tradition or those adrift in no man's land?
  3. One error in categorization, if Lifeway Research knows what they're talking about, is that the Pew Forum failed to include the Southern Baptist Convention under "Pentecostal, Evang. Trad." :-)
  4. The highest percentile of Evangelical Protestant churches is in the 30-49 age range, not the "greying" ranges of 50-64 or 65+. With all the hand-wringing I hear over losing younger folks, that surprised me.
  5. A full 91% of Evangelical Protestants have two or fewer children at home. Considering the immediately previous age-range information, Dr. Al Mohler's observations about childbearing look more and more relevant every day.
  6. Back to the age thing. The only groups that beat the national average for ages 18-29 are: Historically Black Protestants, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Buddhists, Other Faiths, and Unaffiliated. In other words, these categories are demographically "younger" than the national population.
  7. The most male-dominated faith in America is Hinduism, with Unaffiliated running a close second.
  8. This one had me scratching my head: Historically Black Protestants are more than twice as likely never to have been married than other Protestants.
  9. Most busy making babies? Mormons and Muslims.
  10. The buckle of the Bible Belt is not Texas; it is officially Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee. I'm now officially a missionary from my native state to the heathen of the Lone Star State.

There's really enough data there to go on for quite a while. I encourage you to look for yourself. The website (linked above) is quite user-friendly. Who knows how accurate it really is, but it certainly is interesting.


Dave Miller said...

Cute comment on the "Pentecostal" thing.

I might point out, just to be a stick in the mud, that there is a difference between the practice of public tongues and private prayer. But, your joking point is taken.

Here is the real flaw I see in these kinds of surveys. I was a pastor in a small Virginia town. Most of the people there would have self-identified as SBs. But, in my 4 years there (it seemed like 40), I never saw many of them in church. They were FBPO (for burial purposes only) Baptists.

But, anyway, thanks for an interesting post.

Tim G said...

FBPO - now that is funny and sad at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Everett is NOT the only unaffiliated one.

Bart Barber said...

Dave, Glad you enjoyed it.

Tim, I co-chuckle with you.

Keith, neither is he bona-fide. Of course you know that I wrote that one thinking of you.