November 14, 2016

If the U.S. had 100 people: Charting Americans’ religious affiliations

As of 2014, there were roughly 245 million adults in the United States, including 173 million Christians and 56 million people without a religious affiliation. These are big numbers that, along with many others in the religious demographic pie, can at times make it difficult to fully understand the American religious landscape.

But what if we looked at this big picture a little differently? What if we imagined the U.S. as a small town, population 100, instead of a continent-spanning nation with hundreds of millions of people? Doing so presents an interesting thought experiment because it allows us to see basic data about the U.S. and its people in a fresh, simple and illuminating way.

The following five charts use data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study to create a religious demographic profile of the U.S. if the country were made up of exactly 100 adults.

If the U.S. contained just 100 adults, 25 would be people who identify with evangelical Protestant denominations, 23 would be religiously unaffiliated and 21 would be Catholic. Just two would be Mormon, two would be Jewish and one would be Muslim.

Four of these 100 would be Catholics ages 18 to 29, two would be 65 or older and religiously unaffiliated, and 15 would be Protestants ages 30 to 49.

Among adult women, 26 would be Protestant, 11 would be Catholic and 10 would be religiously unaffiliated. Among the men would be 21 Protestants, 10 Catholics and 13 religious “nones.”

If the U.S. had just 100 adults, 32 would be white and Protestant, seven would be Hispanic and Catholic and one would be black and Catholic. There would be 16 white unaffiliated adults, eight black Protestants and three religiously unaffiliated Hispanics.

The South would be home to 37 people, 22 of whom would be Protestants and seven religious “nones.” The Northeast would house six Protestants, five Catholics, one Jew and four unaffiliated adults. The West would contain one of the two Mormons and the Midwest would contain 11 Protestants, four Catholics and five religious “nones.”

Topics: Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Christians and Christianity, Muslims and Islam, Jews and Judaism, Religiously Unaffiliated

  1. Photo of Becka A. Alper

    is a research associate focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Aleksandra Sandstrom

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