July 27, 2015

The most and least racially diverse U.S. religious groups

The nation’s population is growing more racially and ethnically diverse – and so are many of its religious groups, both at the congregational level and among broader Christian traditions. But a new analysis of data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study also finds that these levels of diversity vary widely within U.S. religious groups.

We looked at 30 groups – including Protestant denominations, other religious groups and three subsets of people who are religiously unaffiliated – based on a methodology used in our 2014 Pew Research Center report on global religious diversity. This analysis includes five racial and ethnic groups: Hispanics, as well as non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Asians and an umbrella category of other races and mixed-race Americans.

How Racially Diverse are U.S. Religious Groups?

If a religious group had exactly equal shares of each of the five racial and ethnic groups (20% each), it would get a 10.0 on the index; a religious group made up entirely of one racial group would get a 0.0. By comparison, U.S. adults overall rate at 6.6 on the scale. And indeed, the purpose of this scale is to compare groups to each other, not to point to any ideal standard of diversity.

Seventh-day Adventists top the list with a score of 9.1: 37% of adults who identify as Seventh-day Adventists are white, while 32% are black, 15% are Hispanic, 8% are Asian and another 8% are another race or mixed race.

Muslims (8.7) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (8.6) are close behind in terms of diversity, as no racial or ethnic group makes up more than 40% of either group. Blacks, whites (including some people of North African or Middle Eastern descent) and Asians each make up a quarter or more of U.S. Muslims, while blacks, whites and Latinos each make up a quarter or more of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Buddhists also rank high (8.4) on this measure of racial and ethnic diversity based on the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. But this group may be less diverse because Asian-American Buddhists may have been underrepresented since the survey was conducted in only English and Spanish, and not in any Asian languages.

Catholics and members of the Pentecostal denominations Assemblies of God and Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) both rank between 6.0 and 7.0 on the scale – comparable to U.S. adults overall – largely because of sizable Hispanic minorities. Roughly six-in-ten U.S. Catholics (59%) are white, while 34% are Hispanic; a quarter of the Pentecostal groups are Hispanic.

Among people with no religious affiliation, those whose religion is “nothing in particular” (score of 6.9 on the index) are more diverse than atheists (4.7) and agnostics (4.5). Most who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” are white (64%), but 15% are Latino, 12% are black, 5% are Asian and another 5% are something else or mixed race. By contrast, roughly eight-in-ten atheists (78%) and agnostics (79%) are white.

Although U.S. Jews (90% white) and Hindus (91% Asian) are not very diverse, especially compared with Americans overall, the five least diverse groups in the index are all Protestant denominations.

Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (a mainline denomination), the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (an evangelical denomination) and the United Methodist Church (the largest mainline church) are all more than 90% white. Meanwhile, two of the largest historically black Protestant denominations, the National Baptist Convention and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, have almost exclusively black members.

Topics: Religion and Society, Race and Ethnicity, Religious Affiliation, Christians and Christianity, Muslims and Islam, Jews and Judaism, Hindus and Hinduism

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Lillian Moore1 year ago

    I was surprised that the Mormon church only has an index of 3.4 diversity. While this may be true of just the United States, I have seen many congregations that consist solely of African-American or Latino members. Particularly in the southeastern states. I can see how there may be a larger following for the Muslim or Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I feel that those numbers do not truly represent the churches and their current followings. uucrv.org

  2. Joan R. Gundersen1 year ago

    Where did indigenous populations get counted? I am wondering because in South Dakota a majority of Episcopalians are Lakota or other native peoples. The church also has a strong presence among Navahos. I don’t see a category for Native Americans among your non-white listings.

    1. Michael Lipka1 year ago

      Thanks for your question, Joan. Indigenous persons would be counted as part of the “other/mixed race” category. Nationally, we found that 3% of Episcopalians are in this category.

      Michael Lipka

  3. Whit2 years ago

    At least we (Episcopalians) are doing better on diversity than the United Methodists, which is actually a bit of a surprise, I thought of the UMC as the most diverse mainline protestant denomination.

    Given the difference in the number of African-American congregants between “Anglicans” and Episcopalians, I assume that we lost a bit of diversity in the +Gene Robinson unpleasantness as African immigrants departed for CANA and AMiA.

    I do note that your survey paints us as a bit less diverse than our own internal statistics, which show us as 86% white- that may simply be margin of error, or it may be African and Asian immigrants calling themselves “Anglicans” while attending an Episcopal church. episcopalchurch.org/files/downlo…

  4. Lexter Neil Anito2 years ago

    Proud to be a Seventh-Day Adventist, eventhough I am actually affiliated to the SDA offshoot- Remnant Judeo Christian Church of the SDA, I feel we are just but one church together with the SDARM and TFSDA.
    It proves that Sabbathkeepers are the ones who follow that “there is neither greek or Jew, men or women, rich or poor”.

  5. D2 years ago

    I think it would be more interesting to see a trend – e.g. as compared to 50 years ago, 25 years ago, etc., what is the breakdown. This will give us a sense of what demomination is most open.

  6. Joe B2 years ago

    Agree with those that find issue with the methodology. It seems that the highest rating on the scale should be the ones which have the closest to the same proportions as the overall US adult population.

    For example:
    Seventh Day Adventist: white 37%/black 32%
    All US adults: 66%/12%

    In my opinion, the Seventh Day Adventist proportion is not indicative of actual US population.

    1. Bruce Williams2 years ago

      Have to agree there.

    2. Daniel Tan1 year ago

      The actual US population is simply a reference benchmark. Just as there are some groups less diverse than the actual US population (Jews or Hindus), so to are there religious groups more diverse.

      That said, this survey doesn’t measure how closely a religious group conforms to United States demographics, but instead its diversity.

  7. Emily2 years ago

    Was The Christian Church (disciples of Christ) bundled with United church of Christ or was the denomination too small for your research? I’m just curious where they would fall on this list.

    1. Michael Lipka2 years ago


      Thanks for your comment. Disciples of Christ is separate from the UCC in our research, but is too small to analyze the racial and ethnic composition of its members.

      Michael Lipka

  8. Jingyang Zhang2 years ago

    So what is the difference between nothing in particular v.s. Atheist?

    1. Grant Larson2 years ago

      I’m assuming that “nothing in particular” refers to people who are religious and perhaps even belong to a major world religion, but don’t consider themselves members of or attend any one church regularly.

    2. Samantha2 years ago

      Gnostics and Agnostics

    3. Michael Lipka2 years ago

      Atheists are those who specifically identify themselves as such when asked about their religion. Those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” do not identify with any religious group (e.g. Christianity), but they do not specifically identify as atheists (and many people in this category do express a belief in God).

      I hope this helps.

      Michael Lipka

  9. Sibusiso Redshoeman Cele2 years ago

    Its a great feeling for the Adventist church to be on top of the list and we must thank our God for that because it means that the Adventist church has not yet forgot her mandate as what I can call universal church, because there’s no one or any race that must not hear the word of God and be collected on this ship as it is on the way home. Keep up Adventist people with God as your leader!!!

    1. Ruben2 years ago

      Not sure how Atheist made it on your list of “religious groups”? This puts in doubt PEW’s objectivity and integrity by how they misrepresent Atheist.

      1. Abbie Kendall2 years ago

        I agree, Ruben. The last thing atheists are is religious. We should not have been included in the research.

        1. Jim2 years ago

          So if you should not have been included in this research I think you should not answer the questions. If you guys appears here, it means you agree to be compared with other religious groups.

          1. Zach2 years ago

            Stating you are an atheist by definition removes you from theistic groups.

      2. Anonymous1 year ago

        You query re Athests being a religion, did Cain have a religion when he worshiped God “his way” & then killed His own brother Able? Did Satan have a religion when offering Jesus to bow down & worthship him, & if Jesus did give Him all the world? Today cannot sport be a religion, or even ones self?

  10. Ummahstream Worldtv2 years ago

    More white muslims than Black Muslims? (African American and African)? I seriously challenge that finding.

    1. Mohamed2 years ago

      The US considers Arabs, Persians, and Afghans as white even though we’re Asians. They also consider North Africans white.

      1. Saleh2 years ago

        The fastest growing group entering into Islam are both the African American and the Hispanics.

        Among genders, out if every four people converting to Islam, 3 are women.

        1. Anonymous1 year ago

          If your statistics are true, it’s utterly horrifying. How can any woman in her right mind subject herself to being treated like a dog? Cults are always like that – the women have to walk around wrapped in a bed sheet on a 100+ degree day and live with a man who can beat them at his whim while he strolls around in shorts & a tee shirt & acts like the God of his house.

  11. Andres Torres2 years ago

    It’s interesting that some of the most ethnically diverse denominations- 7th Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, are among the least doctrinally diverse, while some of the most doctrinally diverse- Unitarians and Congregationalists (United Church of Christ), are among the least ethnically diverse.

    1. Paulo2 years ago

      Could you explain what you mean by doctrinally diverse?

  12. Chuck Graham2 years ago

    The random establishment of an even split across the board is impractical, because the ethnic groups across the USA are not equally represented.

    Therefore, this rating system is a hoax.

    1. Grant Larson2 years ago

      You really should have read the entire article before commenting.

  13. lobotom2 years ago

    The applied methodology may be a measure for “diversity,” but that measure calls for an overrepresentation of very small ethnic groups at the cost of other religious groups.
    For example, if 99% of one population group that makes only 1% of the population was represented in one religious category, that would be claimed to be more “diverse” (especially if the group only includes 1-2 % of the most populous ethnicities). In reality, it’s a sign of segregation.
    Also, this type of “diversity” depends on an artificial division of population groups and religious groups. If you separate Asians into smaller ethnic groups, suddenly the diversity is entirely changed because one group is mostly Hindu/Muslim, and the other group is mostly Buddhist. Dividing Muslims into Sunni, Shia, Sufi, etc. will again change the results. Thus, this measure of diversity is artificial and arbitrary.
    A group that is equally accepting of everybody has the same make-up as the general population, meaning that the same percentage of each ethnic group is represented (e.g. 20% of each ethnic group, thus making it a representative subset of the actual population). This calculation does not depend on artificial distinctions, unlike the Pew study.
    The standard based on the actual population make-up would also enable large religious groups to be diverse. Under the Pew standard, large groups cannot be as diverse as small groups because small ethnicites cannot have an equal share in a large religion due to the small total number of individuals within the small ethnic group.

  14. Robert Burton2 years ago

    As an American Baptist (ABC), it has been my understanding that African-Americans and Hispanics combined total slightly over 51 percent of our membership, making us the most diverse old the old mainline. That is not reflected here, but many of the historically African-American churches are also dually aligned National Baptist Conventions and may not have been included in the statistics cited here.

  15. Will2 years ago

    Given the important role of Islamic sectarianism in the contemporary world, it would be interesting to see Islam broken down into its divisions. Maybe Buddhism as well. Also might be interesting to show an index for Christianity that combines the denominations listed here. That might be more telling than cross-comparing the breakdown by denomination for one faith and the highest level numbers for others.

  16. Papa Ken2 years ago

    Thanks for the interesting study. Judging from some of the comments, though, it appears that readers didn’t actually read the study very carefully!

  17. Bob Jones2 years ago

    Just wondering — does anyone have any new articles, wiki links, etc. detailing the white Muslim population in the United States?

    Totally surprised a plurality of American Muslims are White and not Arab/Black.

    1. Census2 years ago

      If they are using the Census racial classifications, Arab/Middle Eastern is part of the “White” category.

  18. Josue Amador2 years ago

    Congratulations in your well made report! I have been noticing that most churches in USA only preach at the white population… and to calm down the concience keep a sunday school in another country and send some clothes and toys a couple times a year.
    Probably the diversity in your report could be noticed when you visit different countries in the world; there are only a few churches that have hospitals, universities all around. Congratulations because they are doing truly the work of God.

  19. Proud Hebrew2 years ago

    Jews are not white. They are their own subset of Middle Easterners.

    1. Grant Larson2 years ago

      There are multiple unrelated regional ethnicities, several of which are not Middle Eastern in the slightest, among which Judaism is common.

  20. rajeev2 years ago

    Can you compare the ethnic diversity in each religion/denomination with the corresponding US population diversity? Seems to me that a religion which had the same proportion of whites/blacks/asians/latinos as the society from which they are drawn is the most diverse.

    1. Mdav2 years ago

      The group “Nothing in Particular” most closely resembles the racial diversity in the USA.

    2. retak2 years ago

      “Diverse” wouldn’t be the word I’d use in this case, instead I’d use “representative”. But I agree, the diversity measurement of this study seems a bit pointless. A higher score means that minorities are over-represented compared to the general US population. For reference, I’m pretty confident that under the scale used in this study, the US prison population would score a higher diversity than the US adult population.

      The fact that the “nothing in particular” group is the closest in distribution to the US general population is for me the most interesting result of this study.

  21. Gene Halterman2 years ago

    Being a traveling Lutheran I could have guessed the results. The only thing missing is the gray hair effect on ethnic diversity. I wonder if a study could happen that would show the welcoming factor of people by denomination vs. the age of the people that attend that church group. We just do not go an preach teach and welcome those different from US.

  22. Ava2 years ago

    Baha’i faith is notably missing. I would’ve really liked to see that included as well. It is one of the most diverse religions in the world.

    1. Michael Lipka2 years ago

      Sorry to report that we could only analyze groups with a large enough sample size in our 2014 Religious Landscape Study (full report here: pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas…). We did not have enough respondents who identified as Baha’i to look at separately.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Michael Lipka

      1. Michael Mumper2 years ago

        Even though there were not enough Baha’i respondents to be able to include them in this report, can you tell us how many did respond, and what their racial make-up is?

  23. Ronk2 years ago

    Where on earth do you get the preposterous idea that the United Methodist Church is “the largest mainline church”?

    According to adherents.com, all Methodists put together comprise only 6.8% of the US population, compared to 16% Baptists and 25% Catholics. Worldwide, the methodists (of all kinds put together) comprise less than 1% of the population, versus Catholics who comprise well over 50% of all Christians currently living on earth.

    1. Michael Lipka2 years ago


      This analysis only looks at people living in the United States. We split Christians into several different traditions, including the evangelical Protestant tradition, the mainline Protestant tradition, the historically black Protestant tradition, the Catholic tradition and more. This chapter contains more information on how we categorize Christians in our study: pewforum.org/2015/05/12/chapter-….

      The United Methodist Church is the largest individual denomination within the mainline Protestant tradition in the United States. Most Baptists are categorized in the evangelical Protestant tradition (including members of the Southern Baptist Convention) or the historically black Protestant tradition (e.g., the National Baptist Convention). Catholics are a separate group.

      I hope this helps clarify the data. Thanks for your comment.

      Michael Lipka

      1. Ronk2 years ago

        You didn’t say the methodists are “the largest mainline protestant church”. You said that they are “the largest mainline church”. This is clearly false.

        Surely Catholics and to a lesser extent Eastern Orthodox, then possibly Anglicans and Lutherans constitute the mainline churches of Christianity.

        1. Jae O2 years ago

          The term “mainline” is a long-standing label that means something more specific than largest or most influential church. There is a Wikipedia article on “Mainline Protestant” you could read to familiarize yourself with how that term is understood in the context it’s used in this article. Cheers.

  24. Rivka2 years ago

    Thanks for an interesting article. However, it appears that Asians have been left out in the information for Jehovah’s Witnesses. We have thousands upon thousands of Asians in our congregations in the US, not to mention globally.

  25. Eric David2 years ago

    While its diverse, the traditional theology is followed as White americans of early 1840’s, that theology blends with the local culture very well, preserving them from famine, disease, poverty, and most of all, IDENTITY.

  26. Bruce Anderson2 years ago

    There are more Mormons in the rest of the world than in the US — I think these are US numbers. That I know of there is no record kept of race, so I don’t know where these numbers come from. I have heard that worldwide there are more Spanish speakers in the Church than English. Spanish are easier to count because of distribution of Spanish language materials to them.

    I have observed that congregations on the south side of Chicago are largely black often with black leadership and I’ve heard that Atlanta is the same and of course Africa. Black areas have black Mormons etc. Most Mormons in Korea are Korean.

  27. Ronk2 years ago

    If the survey was restricted to people who actually PRACTISE their religion, Catholics would be top of the list, with daylight second.

  28. Chris2 years ago

    What about Deism?

  29. Matt2 years ago

    I’d love to see the statistics for Mennonite USA. They are the biggest denomination of Anabaptist churches in America…

    1. Michael Lipka2 years ago

      Sorry to report that we could only analyze groups with a large enough sample size in our 2014 Religious Landscape Study (full report here: pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas…). We did not have enough respondents who identified as Mennonites to look at separately.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Michael Lipka

  30. Christine2 years ago

    Interesting! I’m fairly new to UCC (United Church of Christ), and I’m sad to see the racial breakdown. However, in it’s defense, it’s one of the few churches that openly accepts LGTB congregants.

    1. Marck2 years ago

      it’s one of the few churches that openly accepts LGTB congregants.
      Which explains why that denomination is NOT diverse. While all sinners need to feel welcomed in every church so that they can grow spiritually and draw closer to Jesus Christ, NOT ONE church or denomination should ever accept individuals OPENLY maintaining lifestyles and practices that are directed opposed to Biblical commandments and principles (btw, this includes fornication and adultery by heterosexuals too).

      Saying that the United Church of Christ “openly accepts” the LGTB is not an argument in favor of that faith community. In fact, I’m willing to bet that the numbers for the UCC denomination has been dramatically dwindling.

      Light and Darkness CANNOT mix.

  31. Jim Lynch2 years ago

    There are many denominations or faiths not included in the survey, but it is still interesting information. I too would like see such surveys for individual congregations or areas of the country and such. I’d really like to see a survey comparing these demographics to the individual communities in which congregations exist. If, for example, there is a 90 percent caucasian congregation in a community that is 40 percent African American, is that congregation reaching a cross section of the community? Interesting from a visioning and mission perspective.

    1. Cranston Warren2 years ago

      I agree Jim. I would also like to see those stats. I identify as Seventh-Day Adventist and although I’m happy to see the perceived diversification, I’ve long lamented over the segregation that I’ve witnessed on a congregational level. Personally, I feel that there is more that the church can be doing to be inclusive at a congregational level. This would have many positive effects aside from true diversity and inclusion. Great research but I selfishly want more, I guess.

      1. Marck2 years ago

        To Cranston Warren,

        I am a Seventh-day Adventist as well- a Present Truth Adventist. While there are “diversity issues” in SOME congregations (as is the case with ALL denominations), I’ve always noticed how very diverse the Adventist Church is. In fact, I expected a HIGHER level of blacks within the denomination than is revealed in this study.
        All denominations have their issues- including ours. We shouldn’t be surprised as Adventists because the Bible foretold how Satan would WAR against those who keep the commandments of God and have the Testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17).
        We should always bear in mind two things: 1) despite issues within the church, we are far more united as a people than you think. Take time to look up what others have said in San Antonio (including the Mayor) about how taken aback they were with Adventists and our unity and Christian comportment.
        2) We should ever keep in mind the INFLUENCE of our WORDS in the ears (in this case, the eyes) of those who are not YET believers. Be cautious about not “poisoning the well” (so to speak) before potential brethren have the opportunity to unite themselves with those who are entrusted with the last messages of mercy to a dying world (The Three Angels Messages). The Loud Cry is soon to sound; the Fourth Angel will soon come down- but how can the “angel” speak with power if we broadcast to others that the Remnant Church is not a welcoming church for those to whom we are to proclaim “come out of her, my people”?

        Food for though, brother.

        I LOVE my church.

  32. Gwen Weiner2 years ago

    A very interesting study.Thank you very much!

  33. Kenji2 years ago

    The Baha’i Faith is one of the most diverse religious communities in the world. bahai.org/national-communities

    The Baha’i community in the United States includes people from most ethnic groups in the country and many Native American tribes.

    1. Michael Lipka2 years ago

      Unfortunately we could only include religious groups with a sample size large enough to analyze in our 2014 Religious Landscape Study (full report here: pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas…), and Baha’is did not fit that description.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Michael Lipka

      1. Terrence Fox2 years ago

        It would make sense that only a very few (e.g. 10) of the 35,000 people surveyed would be Baha’is since the number of Baha’is in the United States is estimated to be around 110,000 souls (+/- 50%) or about one out of every three thousand Americans.

  34. Gaudencio Buque, Jr.2 years ago

    One characteristic of God’s end-time people / church is that they are to be more
    racially and ethnically diverse. Why? It is reflective of God’s mighty works in converting people from all cultures, races, languages and nations – a fulfillment of the greatest commission He gave to His Church of preaching the EVERLASTING GOSPEL to all (Rev. 14:6-8). Thus, the more diverse a church is, the more readily she offers herself for the Holy Spirit’s use of reaching their own ethnic – groups. I am indeed thankful I belong to the most racially and ethnically diverse movement God can use so that the end of time shall soon come (Mathew 24:14). Great work by the PEW Research! This helps affirm and strengthen my commitment of doing what appears impossible to accomplish.

    1. Fikinefisco2 years ago

      Which Denomination do you belong to?

    2. Marck2 years ago

      “I am indeed thankful I belong to the most racially and ethnically diverse movement God can use so that the end of time shall soon come (Mathew 24:14)”
      Amen, brother. And again I say- AMEN.

      Revelation 14:6-12: 6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and TO EVERY NATION, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
      7 Saying with a loud voice, FEAR GOD, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
      8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
      9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
      10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
      11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
      12 Here is the patience of the saints: HERE ARE THEY THAT KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, and THE FAITH OF JESUS.

  35. Wayne Chambers2 years ago

    I too would have liked too have seen the inclusion of the Baha’i Faith in the survey.

    1. Ava2 years ago

      Same here

  36. Elliot2 years ago

    What, no Unitarians?

    1. Michael Lipka2 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. We have updated the graphic above to include Unitarians in the analysis.

      Michael Lipka

      1. Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum2 years ago

        You break out the different Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc. Yet you say Unitarians instead of Unitarian Universalists which is the correct term as the current denomination was formed via the merger of two denominations with similar but distinct beliefs.

      2. Vince Borengasser2 years ago

        Unitarians are one in one or two thousand. They Merged with Unitarians more than 50 yrs ago, when xtians were talking about ecumenism.

        1. Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum2 years ago

          “At merger some feared the demise of Universalism. Outnumber three to one they were understandably anxious. They were also mistaken. That is not what happened. What happened is that we ended up with a Unitarian form of polity and Universalist theology. In 1961 there was no way to know this would transpire because it could only happen as subsequent generations lived out what it meant to be neither Universalist nor Unitarian but rather Unitarian Universalist.” from “Dragged Kicking and Screaming into Heaven” a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed ( dmuuc.org/aboutworship/lay-guest… )

  37. Wen-Chung Lai2 years ago

    If you are doing diversity research, you can’t have a race category called “Asian”… “Asian” technically means over 50% population in the world, covering peoples with totally different ethnic backgrounds. If a religion has 100% Asian followers, in which 25% are Chinese, 25% are Indian, 25% are Thai and 25% are Arabian, it is still more diverse than Catholics…

    1. Michael Lipka2 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. In our survey, we used racial and ethnic categories roughly comparable to the U.S. census.

      We have done more extensive research on the religious makeup of Asian Americans: pewforum.org/2012/07/19/asian-am….

      Michael Lipka

    2. Allie2 years ago

      Except that that’s how the U.S. census measures it, so to measure it any other way, you’d have to justify it in the literature, which is hard work! (Not saying that it isn’t possible or shouldn’t happen, just that it would need to be justified, which could take pages of research in and of itself.)

    3. Seb2 years ago

      The same goes for “Whites” as well. Europe is just as diverse as Asia when it comes to ethnicity. Catholicism is fairly diverse despite being majority “White” – Italians, Irish, Poles, and Germans, among others, are represented in Catholicism.

      P.S. Arabs are counted as “White”, not “Asian” in the U.S. Census.

  38. Nis Jørgensen2 years ago

    The metric for measuring diversity is meaningless. The choice of 5 categories is arbitrary – you could just as easily choose 6 (subdividing “white”, into “Anglosaxon white” and “Other white” for instance) – and get a different result.

    1. Rob2 years ago

      I’d be interested in seeing such a breakdown with the Lutheran churches–how many members are of Germanic descent, versus everyone else.

  39. Don Mac Gregor2 years ago

    Dear Pew Research: There is a denomination in this country called Unitarian Universalists.
    See uua.org for more info,
    Then, please conduct another survey including the Unitarian Universalists.

    1. Cat H2 years ago

      I was disappointed that UUs weren’t included.

    2. Alina2 years ago

      I agree Don Mac Gregor!

    3. CaptainA2 years ago

      That is actually what I thought when I read this. “They seem to be missing a few denominations here…”

    4. Michael Lipka2 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. We have updated the graphic above to include Unitarians in the analysis.

      Michael Lipka

      1. Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum2 years ago

        As everyone in this thread correctly indicates, the term is Unitarian Universalist. Unitarian is not acceptable shorthand for many of us.

  40. Amy Warner2 years ago

    Um…atheism isn’t a religion. An atheist is someone who does not accept, as true, claims that assert the existence of gods. Maybe some re-wording would make for better clarity?

    1. Alan Mueller2 years ago

      An Atheist is someone who believes that God/gods do not exist without proof to support their belief. Atheism IS a religion.

      1. Kyle2 years ago

        No. What you’re talking about is “gnostic atheism”, or “strong atheism”, which is merely a subset of atheism. Atheism is not the positive claim that a god does not exist. It is simply the rejection of all known positive claims to the existence of any gods. There’s a difference.

        1. Mike2 years ago

          Webster’s definition: a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
          b : the doctrine that there is no deity

          1. John Barclay2 years ago

            Atheism is, in general terms, the absence of belief in a god or gods. Believing that god(s) do not exist is as daft as believing that they do since there is no evidence to support either position. There is, however, a wealth of rational reasons why God is impossible.

    2. Anonymous Atheist2 years ago

      Where does this article call atheism a religion?

    3. Alina2 years ago

      Amy Warner,

      Perhaps you should look into the website Don Mac Gregor added to his comment before commenting. UU not only includes atheists but Christians of all denominations and other religions. UU’s derived from liberal Christianity.

      My experience with UU organizations are predominantly white caucasion here in North Carolina at least. It would be interesting to see UU’s included in this survey to see holistically in all US states. Because at the end of the day UU’s vision is very inclusive to not only race and ethnicity, but sexual orientation amongst other things.


    4. Zepher2 years ago

      As a formal definition you might be correct. But I’d argue atheism fits the criteria of a religion more than most folks would like to admit.

      1. John Barclay2 years ago

        Religion:- The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods

        Atheism:- the absence of belief in a god or gods.

        Argue until you’re blue in the face if you wish, you’ll still be wrong.

    5. Jeff Zivkovic2 years ago

      Yes, but it’s still interesting to include them in this survey. I’m glad they did.

  41. Nena2 years ago

    What about Baha’i?

    1. Amanda Brock2 years ago

      No Kidding.. i didn’t see that in there either. Was half expecting it since it is considered a major religion since before 1990

    2. nj smith2 years ago

      Thank you. Bahai’s are a diverse group indeed, and often neglected

    3. Michael Lipka2 years ago

      Unfortunately we could only include religious groups with a sample size large enough to analyze in our 2014 Religious Landscape Study (full report here: pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas…), and Baha’is did not fit that description.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Michael Lipka

  42. Ashton2 years ago

    Having an increasing index correlate with equal appropriation of racial-ethnic groups is misleading, as it portrays diversity that doesn’t match the true ethnic makeup of the United States. A”perfectly” diverse religion in the U.S. would match the current racial-ethnic makeup of its adults. Therefore, the “all US adults” group would be a ten, and the index would be higher for religions that resemble it.

    I think this is better since the baseline, “perfectly diverse” group does not exist, and using the US makeup as the comparison does not artificially inflate the index of religions due to their higher minority composition.

    1. Alan Summerscales2 years ago

      I would hazard a guess that the Seventh day Adventists would come pretty close to matching the ethnic ratios of the USA.
      And the others would fall shorter if they did it this way.
      then again I may be wrong just those numbers sort of ring true somehow.

  43. herman harmelink2 years ago

    You might take a look at the International Council of Community Churches, which Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC) describes as an ‘interracial’ communion.

  44. John Telgren2 years ago

    I would be more interested in seeing the average level of racial diversity not in a denomination, but within individual congregations in various denominations

    1. Michael Lipka2 years ago


      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, this study does not have the capability to look at individual congregations. We have done some analysis in that area, including through the National Congregations Study (which is conducted by researchers outside of the Pew Research Center).

      Here is a post we did on NCS data: pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/1….

      Thanks again,
      Michael Lipka