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Data Dictionary: Religion 2000 (RCMS)
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Data Source: RCMS, the ARDA, Social Explorer
Data set: RCMS 2000 (RCMS)
Table: T3. Total Congregations - Major Religions [7]
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 2000
Religion 2000
Data Sources
2000 data were collected by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and include statistics for 149 religious groups, including number of churches and adherents. Dale E. Jones, Sherri Doty, Clifford Grammich, James E. Horsch, Richard Houseal, Mac Lynn, John P. Marcum, Kenneth M. Sanchagrin and Richard H. Taylor supervised the collection. These data originally appeared in Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States, 2000, published by the Glenmary Research Center.

Religion 2000
Data Processing Procedures
The Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) invited all religious bodies that could be identified as having congregations in the United States to participate. Final totals include information from 149 Christian and other religious bodies. Participants included 139 Christian denominations, associations, or communions (including Latter-day Saints and Unitarian/Universalist groups); two specially defined groups of independent Christian churches; Jewish and Islamic estimates; and counts of temples for six Eastern religions. The 149 groups reported 268,254 congregations with 141,371,963 adherents, which is 50.2% of the population of 281,421,839. There are 14 non-participating religious bodies that reported more than 100,000 members to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, 2000, including all historically African American denominations. These groups reported a combined membership of 31,040,360 in the Yearbook, which is not reflected in the congregations and membership data. The lack of historically African American denominations should be noted when referencing the number of total adherents or denominations in an area.

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).

For total adherents we report both unadjusted totals and adjusted totals. The "unadjusted totals" come from the 2000 adherent totals reported in the RCMS collection. While quite comprehensive, this data excludes most of the historically African-American denominations and some other major groups. As a result, these numbers will underestimate the total adherence rate, particularly in areas with a large African-American population. The "Adjusted Totals" include all adherents in the denominations counted by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and estimates adherent totals for the historically African-American denominations and other religious groups not listed in the ASARB totals. An article by Roger Finke and Christopher P. Scheitle (2005) reviews how these estimates were computed.

The Jewish totals and Muslim totals also rely on estimates. Jim Schwartz and Jeff Scheckner provided a list of Jewish populations by region, which is from the American Jewish Year Book 2001 (David Singer and Lawrence Grossman, 2001. New York: American Jewish Committee, pp. 253-280). Schwartz and Scheckner also supplied a count of synagogues by state and county. The list of synagogues was compiled by contacting Jewish denominations and other organizations, consulting all relevant websites, and obtaining lists from Jewish federations in large Jewish communities.

A telephone survey conducted by Ihsan Bagby identified the membership and number of adherents in over one third of Americas known mosques. At its simplest level, the non-reporting mosques were given the average number of adherents in the reporting mosques. Unlike most Christian churches, however, more than one mosque may claim the same person as an adherent. The following adjustment was made to account for a possible overlap of membership. When a mosque reported an adherence rate over eight times its average Friday attendance and there were other accessible mosques in the area, the number of adherents was lowered to eight times the number of attendees. Fifteen percent of the mosques reported an adherence/attendance ratio exceeding 8.0.

Religion 2000
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 Muslims, 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 149 religious groups and their category placement are as follows:

Evangelical Protestant
  • "Old" Missionary Baptists Associations
  • Advent Christian Church
  • African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
  • Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection
  • American Association of Lutheran Churches
  • American Baptist Association
  • Amish; Other Groups
  • 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
  • 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
  • Bruderhof Communities, Inc.
  • Calvary Chapel Fellowship Churches
  • Central Baptist Association Ministries
  • Christ Catholic Church
  • Christian and Missionary Alliance
  • Christian Brethren
  • Christian Churches and Churches of Christ
  • Christian Reformed Church in North America
  • Christian Union
  • Church of God (Anderson, Indiana)
  • Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.)
  • 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
  • Community of Christ
  • Conservative Baptist Association of America
  • Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
  • Conservative Mennonite Conference
  • Cumberland Presbyterian Church
  • Duck River and Kindred Baptists Associations
  • Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church
  • Enterprise Baptists Association
  • Evangelical Congregational Church, The
  • Evangelical Covenant Church, The
  • Evangelical Free Church of America
  • 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 Association of Regular Baptist Churches
  • General Six Principle Baptists
  • Hutterian Brethren
  • Independent Free Will Baptists Associations
  • Independent Fundamental Churches of America
  • Independent, Charismatic Churches
  • Independent, Non-Charismatic Churches
  • International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
  • International Churches of Christ
  • International Pentecostal Church of Christ
  • International Pentecostal Holiness Church
  • Interstate & Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptists Association
  • Jasper Baptist and Pleasant Valley Baptist Associations
  • Landmark Missionary Baptists, Independent Associations and Unaffiliated Churches
  • Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
  • Mennonite Brethren Churches, U.S. Conference of
  • Mennonite Church
  • Mennonite Church USA
  • Mennonite Church, The General Conference
  • Mennonite; Other Groups
  • Midwest Congregational Christian Fellowship
  • Missionary Church
  • National Association of Free Will Baptists
  • National Primitive Baptist Convention, USA
  • Netherlands Reformed Congregations
  • New Hope Baptist Association
  • New Testament Association of Independent Baptist Churches and other Fundamental Baptists
  • North American Baptist Conference
  • Old Order Amish
  • Old Order Mennonite
  • Old Order River Brethren
  • Old Regular Baptists
  • Open Bible Standard Churches
  • Original Free Will Baptists
  • Orthodox Presbyterian Church
  • Pentecostal Church of God
  • Presbyterian Church in America
  • Primitive Advent Christian Church
  • Primitive Baptist Church, The
  • Primitive Baptists Associations
  • Primitive Baptists, Eastern District Association of
  • Primitive Methodist Church in the USA
  • Progressive Primitive Baptists
  • Protestant Reformed Churches in America
  • Reformed Baptist Churches
  • Reformed Church in the United States
  • Reformed Episcopal Church
  • Reformed Mennonite Church
  • Regular Baptists
  • Salvation Army
  • Schwenkfelder Church
  • Separate Baptists in Christ
  • Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, USA and Canada
  • Seventh-day Adventist Church
  • Southern Baptist Convention
  • Southwide Baptist Fellowship
  • Strict Baptists
  • The Protestant Conference (Lutheran)
  • Truevine Baptists Association
  • Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists
  • United Baptists
  • United Christian Church
  • United Reformed Churches in North America
  • Vineyard USA
  • 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)
  • International Council of Community Churches
  • 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 (USA)
  • Reformed Church in America
  • United Church of Christ
  • United Methodist Church
  • Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches

  • Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America
  • American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church
  • Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
  • Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, North American Dioceses
  • Armenian Apostolic Church / Catholicossate of Cilicia
  • Armenian Apostolic Church / Catholicossate of Etchmiadzin
  • Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of the USA
  • Byelorussion Council Of Orthodox Churches In North America
  • Coptic Orthodox Church
  • Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  • Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Vasiloupulis
  • Holy Orthodox Church in North America
  • Macedonian Orthodox Church: American Diocese
  • Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America
  • Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, American Diocese of the
  • Orthodox Church in America: Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese
  • Orthodox Church in America: Bulgarian Diocese
  • Orthodox Church in America: Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America
  • Orthodox Church in America: Territorial Dioceses
  • Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA
  • Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada
  • Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
  • Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA
  • Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA (New Gracanica Metropolitanate)
  • Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
  • Ukranian Orthodox Church of the USA

  • Baha'is
  • Buddhists
  • Church of Christ, Scientist
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Hindus
  • Jains
  • Jewish
  • Muslims Estimate
  • Sikhs
  • Taoists
  • Unitarian Universalist Association
  • Zoroastrians