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Data Dictionary: Religion 1990 (RCMS)
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Data Source: RCMS, the ARDA, Social Explorer
Data set: RCMS 1990 (RCMS)
Table: T3. Total Congregations - Major Religions [6]
Universe: Total Congregations - Major Religions
Table Details
T3. Total Congregations - Major Religions
Universe: Total Congregations - Major Religions
Variable Label
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: RCMS, the ARDA, Social Explorer
Religion 1990
Religion 1990
Data Sources
1990 data were collected by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and include statistics for 132 religious groups, including number of churches and adherents. Martin B. Bradley, Norman M. Green, Jr., Dale E. Jones, Mac Lynn, and Lou McNeil supervised the collection. These data originally appeared in Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1990, published by the Glenmary Research Center.

Religion 1990
Data Processing Procedures
The Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) invited all Judeo-Christian religious bodies listed in the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches to participate. Final totals include information from 133 Christian and other religious bodies. The 133 groups reported 255,173 congregations with 137,064,509 adherents, which is 55.1% of the total population of 248,709,766. Five groups (Black Baptists; Congregational Christian Churches [not part of any national CCC body]; Independent, Charismatic Churches; Independent, Non-Charismatic Churches; and Jewish adherents) are not denominations or fellowships, but account for 12.2 percent of the adherents in the United States. There are 21 non-participating church bodies that reported more than 100,000 members to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. These groups reported a combined membership of 20.8 million in the Yearbook.

The RCMS collection reports a measure of members and adherents. Members include only those who are designated as full members by the congregation. Congregational "adherents" include all full members, their children, and others who regularly attend services or participate in the congregation. When religious groups reported only adult membership, the following formula was used to derive the number of adherents: The total county population was divided by the total county population less children 13 years and under (derived from census), and the resulting figure was multiplied by the confirmed members. Using adherents allows for more meaningful comparisons between groups that count children as members (e.g., Catholics) and those that don't (e.g. Baptists).

William Newman and Peter Halvorson provided county estimates of the Jewish population for this study, based upon the American Jewish Year Book. Generally, a county was included in the study only if it or its metropolitan area contained at least 100 adherents. Barry Kosmin provided a list of synagogues throughout the United States. These have been located by county and are included in the study. Together, the reports indicate nearly 6 million adherents in 3,975 synagogues. Due to the differing reporting procedures, some counties report adherents with no synagogues, and others report synagogues but no adherents.

Three predominantly black denominations, accounting for 1.2 million adherents, participated in the study. There is no way of telling how many blacks are adherents of the other denominations appearing in the study. Major efforts to enlist the participation of other black denominations were made. Generally, membership records are not kept nationally, at least not in a form conducive to participation in a study such as this.
Religion 1990
Religion by Tradition
Christian groups in America are often placed into four main traditions: Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant, Historically Black Protestant and Roman Catholic. There is wide variation within each of these four traditions. The most difficult to classify are evangelical and mainline Protestants, with evangelical groups generally being more theologically and socially conservative than mainline groups. Several sources were used for categorizing the many Christian groups into religious traditions, beginning with an article by Brian Steensland and colleagues entitled "The Measure of American Religion: Toward Improving the State of the Art" published in Social Forces (2000, 79: 291-318). This article places most denominations into one of above traditions. For Christian denominations not included in Steensland and colleagues' scheme, two additional sources were consulted: J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions (8th edition) and Frank S. Mead and Samuel S. Hill's Handbook of Denominations in the United States (10th edition). In addition to those in Steensland and colleagues' classification scheme, separate categories were created for Orthodox Christians, Jews, and other groups. The lack of data on historically African American denominations made inclusion of a Black Protestant category unnecessary. Using these sources, staff at the Association of Religion Data Archives ( placed each group into a Religious Tradition.

The 133 religious groups and their category placement are as follows:

Evangelical Protestant
  • Advent Christian Church
  • African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
  • Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection
  • American Association of Lutheran Churches
  • Apostolic Christian Church of America, Inc.
  • Apostolic Christian Churches (Nazarean)
  • Apostolic Lutheran Church of America
  • Assemblies of God
  • Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
  • Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, The
  • Baptist General Conference
  • Baptist Missionary Association of America
  • Barren River Missionary Baptists
  • Beachy Amish Mennonite Churches
  • Berean Fundamental Church
  • Bible Church of Christ, Inc.
  • Black Baptists Estimate
  • Brethren Church, The (Ashland, Ohio)
  • Brethren In Christ Church
  • Central Baptist Association Ministries
  • Christ Catholic Church
  • Christian and Missionary Alliance, The
  • Christian Brethren
  • Christian Churches and Churches of Christ
  • Christian Reformed Church in North America
  • Church of God (Anderson, Indiana)
  • Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)
  • Church of God (Seventh Day)
  • Church of God General Conference
  • Church of God in Christ, Mennonite
  • Church of God of Prophecy
  • Church of God, Mountain Assembly, Inc.
  • Church of the Brethren
  • Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America
  • Church of the Lutheran Confession
  • Church of the Nazarene
  • Church of the United Brethren in Christ
  • Churches of Christ
  • Churches of God, General Conference
  • Conservative Baptist Association of America
  • Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
  • Cumberland Presbyterian Church
  • Duck River and Kindred Baptists Associations
  • Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church
  • Enterprise Baptists Association
  • Evangelical Congregational Church, The
  • Evangelical Free Church of America, The
  • Evangelical Lutheran Synod
  • Evangelical Mennonite Church
  • Evangelical Methodist Church
  • Evangelical Presbyterian Church
  • Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches
  • Fire Baptized Holiness Church, (Wesleyan), The
  • Free Methodist Church of North America
  • Fundamental Methodist Conference, Inc.
  • General Six Principle Baptists
  • Hutterian Brethren
  • Independent Fundamental Churches of America
  • Independent, Charismatic Churches
  • Independent, Non-Charismatic Churches
  • International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
  • International Pentecostal Church of Christ
  • International Pentecostal Holiness Church
  • Interstate & Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptists Association
  • Jasper Baptist and Pleasant Valley Baptist Associations
  • Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
  • Mennonite Brethren Churches, U.S. Conference of
  • Mennonite Church USA
  • Midwest Congregational Christian Fellowship
  • Missionary Church, The
  • National Association of Free Will Baptists
  • Netherlands Reformed Congregations
  • New Hope Baptist Association
  • North American Baptist Conference
  • Old Missionary Baptists Associations
  • Old Order Amish Church
  • Old Order River Brethren
  • Old Regular Baptists
  • Open Bible Standard Churches, Inc.
  • Pentecostal Church of God
  • Presbyterian Church in America
  • Primitive Advent Christian Church
  • Primitive Baptists Associations
  • Primitive Methodist Church in the USA
  • Reformed Church in the United States
  • Reformed Episcopal Church
  • Regular Baptists
  • Salvation Army, The
  • Schwenkfelder Church
  • Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, USA and Canada
  • Seventh-day Adventist Church
  • Southern Baptist Convention
  • The Protestant Conference (Lutheran)
  • Truevine Baptists Association
  • Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists
  • United Baptists
  • United Christian Church
  • Wayne Trail Missionary Baptist Association
  • Wesleyan Church, The
  • Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Mainline Protestant
  • American Baptist Churches in the USA
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Congregational Christian Churches, Additional (not part of any national CCC body)
  • Episcopal Church
  • Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Friends (Quakers)
  • Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Moravian Church in America--Alaska Province
  • Moravian Church in America--Northern Province
  • Moravian Church in America--Southern Province
  • National Association of Congregational Christian Churches
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • Reformed Church in America
  • United Church of Christ
  • United Methodist Church, The

  • Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America
  • American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church
  • Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, North American Dioceses
  • Armenian Apostolic Church / Catholicossate of Cilicia
  • Byelorussion Council of Orthodox Churches In North America
  • Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  • Orthodox Church in America: Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese
  • Orthodox Church in America: Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America
  • Orthodox Church in America: Territorial Dioceses
  • Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

  • Church of Christ, Scientist
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The
  • Jewish Estimate
  • Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations