The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted a major study–the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey–that reveals data about huge numbers of Americans and their religious inclinations. The first part of the study, released in February, looked at the number of adherents within religious groups. This blog reported on the surprisingly high number of UUs the survey found. Posts related to that section can be found here:
The second part of the survey, released yesterday, details the beliefs and practices of many Americans. A series of posts on the subject can be found at these links:
The data on this survey–as on virtually any survey–is not air-tight. Social science is indeed a science, but not as hard a science as physics or chemistry (and even these fields have their disputes over data, of course). Minority groups are always under-served by these sorts of large-scale surveys that have majoritarian assumptions built into them. That means that the data on UUs is suggestive, but should not be seen as the final word on the subject. Furthermore, in the second part of the survey UUs are actually listed as “Unitarians and other liberal faiths,” meaning the data is diluted with a smaller number of non-UUs lumped into the same category. We need to keep this in mind, but nonetheless this is overall good research which is likely correct on the ballpark numbers.