We want every religious group* to be counted. Our goal is to report the number of religious congregations each religious group has in each county** of the United States. Usually, the number of adherents, or people associated with the congregations, is also reported by county. When official membership or average weekly attendance figures are available, they also are included.
Data sources: Our data collectors use websites, mailing lists, and public documents in order to include as many religious congregations as possible. But to be as accurate as possible, we prefer to have groups provide their own statistics to us. This ensures inclusion of all their congregations as well as officially documented numbers for adherents, members, and worshipers.
- Summary lists: The religious group provides us with the county-level totals for their congregations. Many large organizations already record this information for their own purposes and they provide a spreadsheet or database with the totals for each county.
- Detailed reports: The religious group provides us with a listing of their congregations including locations and statistics. Our staff does the summary work for the group, totaling the figures for each county. Some groups provide this in the form of written (or electronic) yearbooks; others provide spreadsheets with each church listed on its own line.
- Website data: A few groups have their locations and statistics on-line, and our staff will pull the data from the internet. This works well for smaller religious organizations without a centralized staff for data collection and distribution.
- Special studies: A few groups, such as non-denominational Christian churches, do not have a central data source to provide data, or simply do not prioritize data collection at all. In these cases, special studies are commissioned to collect the data.
In summer, 2020, we invited all known religious groups (including all that participated in the 2010 U.S. Religion Census) to supply official data for this decade's census. Check this current list of 2010 participating groups to find out if your group is already invited: U.S. Religion Census 2010 Participation. If your denomination or faith group is not listed in this document please e-mail Rich Houseal, the U.S. Religion Census 2020 Operations Committee Liaison, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your group's name, who to contact within your group (name and e-mail or address), and an estimate of the number of congregations and adherents within your group. We will respond with the necessary forms to ensure your group's inclusion in the study.
*U.S. Religion Census reserves the right to determine who/what qualifies as a religious group for the purposes of inclusion in the study.
**Most states are divided into counties. A few do not have counties, but then the equivalent is used, as in governmental reports. These includes census divisions in Alaska, parishes in Louisiana, independent cities in several states, and the District of Columbia.