U.S. Religious Groups & Religious Maps

What is the difference between a cult and a religion? 100 years!
About 1,000 letters arrive in Jerusalem every year addressed to God!

In a recent Gallup poll, 63% of Americans said they believed that religion could solve the vast majority of today's social problems, a percentage which has remained stable for 30 years. Over 70% of Americans are members of a church or synagogue, and 40% attend regularly, compared with only 12% in Britain.

Only in 1954 was the phrase "under God" added to the Pledge of Allegiance and in 1955, "In God We Trust" was added to U.S. paper money.

[Source for the top left-hand photo and text: church signs.]

According to Gallup polls, only 10% of the USA population (30 million, which is larger than the total number of Roman Catholics and Baptists combined) say they hold a secular, scientific evolutionist view of the world, while 44% believe in strict biblical creationism. Three times as many people believe in the Virgin birth than in evolution. In the United States a Gallup poll conducted in 2008 found that only 14% of people agreed with the proposition that “humans developed over millions of years”, up from 9% in 1982. Acceptance of evolution varies around the world, with the most ardent believers being in Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden (see chart to the right). Read a relevant article

About 2,000 different religious denominations and cults are found in the United States! The United States supports more than 200 Christian TV channels and 1,500 Christian radio stations. The USA is three times more religious today than at the start of the republic, measured by church attendance. In other rich countries, including Canada, church attendance and religious beliefs have declined. Unique to the USA, many public policy issues are framed in religious terms: sexual activities in their many forms, abortion, alcoholism, stem-cell research, homosexuality, and divorce.

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Data for the maps below come from Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1990. Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut. Angela Laufenberg, a geography major at UWEC, used these electronic data to make the maps, which were presented at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago, IL. Here are the general church patterns:

Examine county-level maps for various religious groups.
Great mapping resource on a very wide range of USA religious groups: http://www.rcms2010.org/index.php

The U.S. racial and ethnic diversity by county relates to the distribution of religious denominations.
Trace the changing geography in the United States of various foreign-born groups.

 
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Evolution of Religious Groups: (Source: D. B. Barrett, World Christian Encyclopedia. 1982)

Christianity

split into the (western) Roman Catholic and the (eastern) Orthodox Churches.

Roman Catholicism

gave rise to Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Calvinism.

Anglicanism

gave rise to Methodism and Congregationalism.

Calvinism

gave rise to Baptist and Presbyterianism.

Presbyterianism

gave rise to the Dutch Reform Church.

Based on a 2006 opinion poll, the people in the U.S. hold different views of God or its absence:
1) authoritarian God: 31 percent
2) benevolent God: 23 percent, rising to 29 percent in the Midwest
3) critical God: 16 percent, but 21 percent in the relativist East Coast
4) distant God: 24 percent
5) atheists: 6 percent.

Optional:
Read a book review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion.
Read about the issues raised by religious freedom and associated practices in multi-religious and civil societies.
Read how religious diversity (and language diversity) may be "caused" by the frequency of diseases in countries around the world!
You might want to use the immodest web site, The Complete Guide to Historical Religion in America, to learn about various religious groups.