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Denominations / Religious Groups

Student and practitioners in Religion Studies, Practical Theology, and the Sociology of Religion often need information on various Christian denominations or other religious groups and traditions. There are several excellent websites that provide statistics, news, and research on topics of interest to these students and practitioners. Keep in mind that statistical and informational sources may need to be updated by current research and statistics found in periodicals, yearbooks, and almanacs. 

Even the most current websites are posting analyzed data from surveys, polls, and studies well after that data was collected and compiled by an agency or organization. Here follows several of these useful websites:

Adherents.com

Many thousands of summary statistics and lists from published sources on membership/adherents of all faith groups worldwide.  One person is responsible for this entire website.  It is difficult to determine the dates of much of the statistical information included, so current sources (e.g., periodicals, current yearbooks or almanacs) need to be consulted for updates.  The news pages are not current and not all website links connect.  A Google search engine is used to search the database.  There are many advertisements on the pages.

THIS WEBSITE COULD HELP ANSWER QUESTIONS SUCH AS:
“How many Buddhists are there in the United States?  In the world? “
“Which U. S. states have the highest percentage of United Methodists?”

The Association of Religion Data Archives

“allows you to interactively explore the highest quality data on American and international religion using online features for generating national profiles, GIS maps, church membership overviews, denominational heritage trees, tables, charts, and other reports.  Over 450 surveys and other data collections are available for online preview and virtually all can be downloaded free of charge.” (quoted from the website)

Although the ARDA is kept current, keep in mind that surveys/polls/studies are posted well after the data is gathered because analysis and publication of data is time-consuming.  Again, check current periodicals, yearbooks, and almanacs for updates.

THIS WEBSITE COULD HELP ANSWER QUESTIONS SUCH AS:
“How are the Church of Christ and the United Church of Christ different?  Were they ever part of the same denomination?”
“How does the American public feel about various issues connected to abortion?” (Hint: Start by searching the section called “Data Archive”)

IN ADDITION TO ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT DENOMINATIONS/RELIGIOUS GROUPS, HERE IS A MOST INTERESTING USE OF THIS DATABASE:  Be sure to click on “Learning Center” on the website banner to find “Learning Modules” which will help you explore facets of many fascinating topics using the datasets The ARDA has compiled (such as “Women in the Seminary”).

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

A project of the Pew Research Center which is “a nonpartisan ‘fact tank’ that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.” (quoted from the website)

The Pew Forum focuses on Religion and Politics, Religion and the Law, Religion and Domestic Policy, and Religion and Foreign Policy.  Search “denominations” and an issue (such as “gay marriage”) to see a list of reports, surveys, and news stories.

THIS WEBSITE COULD HELP ANSWER QUESTIONS SUCH AS:
“How do various denominations approach the issue of gay marriage?”
“Is Creationism supported by most denominations?”

Official Denominational Web Sites

This extensive list of sites is provided by Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

Free Online Sources for the Study of Christianity

Yale Divinity School Library has compiled a list of both ecumenical and denominational websites and homepages.

THE TWO ABOVE WEBSITES COULD HELP ANSWER QUESTIONS SUCH AS:
“Who are the member church bodies in the World Council of Churches?”
“Where can I find Vatican II documents?”
“What are the basic beliefs of the Swedenborgian Church?  The Seventh Day Adventist Church?”

Pluralism Project at Harvard University

The Pluralism Project was developed by Diana L. Eck at Harvard University “to study and document the growing religious diversity of the United States, with a special view to its new immigrant religious communities.” (quoted from the website)  Start by clicking on “America’s Many Religions” and choosing a group from “Resources by Tradition.”  You can find statistics on that tradition as well as lists of religious centers, research reports, current news stories, and geographic distribution.

THIS WEBSITE COULD HELP ANSWER QUESTIONS SUCH AS:
 “Where is the nearest Bahai Center?  What activities take place there?”
“Is there a website for Jainism in the U. S.?”

Hartford Institute for Religion Research

 “The reports and research offered here relate specifically to the official national [denominational] structures.  This section also contains information on regional denominational religious structures, new religious movements and parachurch religious groups.”  (quoted from the website)

THIS WEBSITE COULD HELP ANSWER QUESIONS SUCH AS:
“How can I find the difference between a cult and a new religious movement?”
“Is there a web page for The Antiochian Catholic Church in America?”

Current Statistical Print Sources in Most Theological Libraries (used to update above websites):

Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.  Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1973-. 

Prepared and edited by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  Raw data from Christian religious bodies are gathered and compiled into the most complete, up-to-date collection of statistical information about Christian religious bodies in North America.  The Yearbook includes statistics on membership and financial contributions, as well as seminary enrollment, descriptions of denominations, directories of leaders, listings of religious leaders, listings of religious periodicals published by many of the religious bodies, and much more.  The inside back cover provides instructions on how to get free online access to the Yearbook which will periodically provide even more current data.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts.  New York:  Press Pub. Co. (The New York World), 1923-.

Contains statistical data compiled not only from the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, but from several other sources that include world-wide coverage of all religions.  Includes brief descriptions of various Christian denominational origins and beliefs, as well as those of major world religions.