Sep 24, 2015 7:00 am

5 facts about Communion and American Catholics

Pope Francis is scheduled to celebrate Mass on an enormous scale Sunday, with 2 million people expected to gather on a mile-long parkway in downtown Philadelphia. And nearly 1,500 priests and deacons will be on hand to help distribute Holy Communion.

In Communion, Catholics receive bread and wine. The church teaches that when the bread and wine are consecrated by an ordained priest, they become the actual body and blood of the risen Christ; a theological explanation for this process, known as transubstantiation, has been supported by official church teaching since the 16th century.

The Catholic Church has a variety of rules and guidelines about who can receive Communion. For example, only baptized Catholics are eligible to receive Communion. If a Catholic is conscious of having committed a “grave sin” – for example, divorce or cohabitation with a romantic partner outside of marriage – he or she must first repent and perform penance for that sin before being eligible to receive Communion.

Here are five facts about U.S. Catholics and Communion:

1Most Catholics Regularly Receive Communion When They Attend MassThe church recommends that Catholics receive Communion every time they attend Mass, and about four-in-ten Catholics (43%) say they do so. Overall, 77% of Catholics report taking Communion at least some of the time when they attended Mass, while 17% say they never do so.

2While Hispanic Catholics are as likely as white Catholics to attend Mass weekly, Hispanic Catholics are much less likely than white Catholics to say they regularly receive Communion. Only 21% of Hispanic Catholics receive Communion every time they attend Mass, compared with 56% of white Catholics. About a third of Hispanic Catholics say they take Communion only some of the time they attend Mass (35%). And roughly a quarter say they never receive the Eucharist (27%). Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Sep 23, 2015 10:00 am

Fewer immigrants in Congress today than in years past

Foreign-Born Share of Congress Little Changed Since Bottoming Out in 1960s

Members of Congress today are less likely to be immigrants, especially compared with other periods of history when surges of new arrivals occurred, a new Pew Research Center analysis finds.

Just 1% (six members) of the current 114th Congress immigrated into the U.S. at some point in their lives, compared with about 10% (nine of 95) who were born abroad in the first Congress of 1789-91, which was a much smaller Congress, and 8% (31 of 407) during the next peak, the 50th Congress of 1887-89, amid the broader U.S. immigration wave from Europe.

There were no foreign-born senators or representatives in Congresses from 1967 to 1974. And the share of immigrants in Congress has risen only slightly since then, even as the U.S. has seen another wave of immigrants arriving from Latin America and Asia since 1965. (Our count does not include those who gained citizenship from being born to a U.S. parent while abroad or those born in U.S. territories, nor does it include nonvoting delegates, state commissioners and members who were elected but not sworn in.) Read More

Category: Sortable Table

Topics: Congress, Immigration, Immigration Trends, U.S. Political Figures

Sep 23, 2015 7:00 am

Seven-in-ten people globally live on $10 or less per day

Following his election in March 2013, Pope Francis wasted little time in conveying his great unease with the state of global poverty and inequality. He wrote:

“The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. … Inequality is the root of social ills.”

The urgency expressed by Pope Francis is grounded in harsh reality.


The vast majority of the world’s population lives on a budget that falls well short of the poverty line in advanced economies. Specifically, 4.4 billion people – 71% of the global population of 6.2 billion – lived on $10 or less per day in 2011, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the most recently available data.

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Income, Population Geography, Poverty, Religious Leaders, Sub-Saharan Africa

Sep 22, 2015 1:00 pm

Many U.S. Catholics will understand Pope Francis’ Spanish-language Mass

When Pope Francis leads Mass on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., he will speak not in English, but in his native Spanish.

Leaders in the Catholic Church say the pope’s delivery in Spanish serves as a nod to the new saint he will canonize, Junipero Serra, a Spanish-American missionary who established a chain of missions in California during the late 1700s. While the pope is most comfortable speaking Spanish, the church’s Latino population in the U.S. is growing and now makes up one-third of the flock.

Catholic Hispanics More Likely to Use SpanishBecause Spanish is the most common language spoken by Americans except for English, the pope will find a large share of his parishioners able to understand his message.

A majority of all Hispanic adults identify as Catholic and a large majority of Hispanic Catholics speak Spanish fluently, according to our 2013 National Survey of Latinos. Eight-in-ten Hispanic Catholics use mostly Spanish or are bilingual. In fact, they are more likely to be Spanish speakers than non-Catholic Hispanics (68%). Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Hispanic/Latino Identity, Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Language, Mexico

Sep 22, 2015 12:00 pm

Who’s left out in a Web-only survey and how it affects results

Survey research is rapidly moving online – it’s cheaper, faster, provides greater flexibility in questionnaire design, and often has substantial advantages in data quality compared with phone surveys. Web surveys are being adopted in all sectors of the industry, from marketing to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to election polling.

That makes it increasingly important to assess the accuracy of these surveys. Surveys that include only those who use the internet (and are willing to take surveys online) run the risk of producing biased results. And, in fact, a notable share of Americans either cannot or will not complete a survey via the internet.

That raises two questions: Whom do you miss with a Web-only survey, and how does it affect your results?

In this instance, there was a way to get at the answers by turning to our American Trends Panel, a nationally representative group of Americans who have agreed to participate in our surveys. Most of the panel members participate via the Web, but a sizable number (representing nearly one-fifth of the public) do not. A little more than half of these non-Web participants are not online, and the rest would not provide an email address in order to be surveyed. However, we are able to survey the non-Web panel members by mail and assess how much, if at all, their non-participation would affect the outcome in a national poll conducted exclusively online.

Here are four key findings from our new report, “Coverage Error in Internet Surveys.”  Read More

Topics: American Trends Panel, Research Methods

Sep 22, 2015 8:55 am

The many ways to measure economic inequality

Issues of economic inequality have pushed their way back into the national and global conversation – from Pope Francis and Sen. Bernie Sanders to Thomas Piketty and ongoing debates about raising the minimum wage. Surveys, though, show a wide partisan gap in views of whether inequality is a problem that should be addressed. For instance, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in January found that, while 67% of Democrats identified reducing income inequality as an “absolute priority,” just 19% of Republicans did.

The View From the TopAnd economists are also divided on just how to define and measure inequality. As Federal Reserve economist Arthur Kennickell wrote in a 2009 paper, “‘Inequality’ may seem a simple term, but operationally it may mean many different things, depending on the point of view.” Most researchers agree that wealth is more unevenly distributed than income, while consumption is less concentrated at the upper end than either wealth or income.

The most-cited measures of inequality involve income. In a recent report, for instance, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development noted that “in OECD countries, the richest 10% of the population earn 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10%.”

The U.S. Census Bureau publishes two measures of income inequality each year. According to the most recent report, the top 5% of households received 21.8% of “equivalence-adjusted” aggregate income in 2014, while the bottom 60% received just 27.1%. (Equivalence-adjusted estimates factor in different household sizes and compositions.) Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Income, Income Inequality, Research Methods, Socioeconomic Class, Wealth

Sep 21, 2015 10:00 am

Among Catholics, fewer Latinos than whites seek changes to the church

When Pope Francis – the first Latin American pontiff – arrives in the U.S., he will find a Catholic public that increasingly has roots in Latin America, as Latinos now make up 34% of all American Catholic adults.

But what may be less commonly known is the divide between Latino and white American Catholics on some church teachings. On a variety of issues – such as recognizing gay marriages and determining eligibility for Holy Communion – Latino Catholics tend to be more aligned with the church than are white Catholics, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. And Latino Catholics are more likely than white Catholics to view a variety of behaviors as sins.

Hispanic Catholics Less Likely Than White Catholics to Support Changes to Church Teachings

For example, while majorities of white Catholics believe the Catholic Church should allow those who are living with a romantic partner without being married (69%) or who have divorced and remarried without an annulment (74%) to receive Communion, roughly half of Latino Catholics say the same (49% and 44%, respectively). Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Social Values

Sep 21, 2015 6:45 am

A closer look at Catholics in Washington, New York and Philadelphia

On his first papal trip to the U.S., Pope Francis will visit three Northeastern cities that are within a few hundred miles of each other. But while New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., may be geographically close, their Catholic populations look different from one another in several ways, according to data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study.

For instance, 85% of Catholics in the Philadelphia metropolitan area are non-Hispanic whites. Whites, however, make up smaller shares of the Catholic populations in New York (57%) and Washington (50%).

From a racial and ethnic perspective, Catholics in the NYC metro area look very similar to U.S. Catholics overall, including about a third who are Hispanic. Fewer D.C.-area Catholics are Hispanic (23%), while more in the capital are black (15%) or Asian (10%) compared with the country overall.

Race and Ethnicity of Catholics in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington

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Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Population Geography, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religious Leaders

Sep 17, 2015 9:55 am

Indians adore Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a press conference in Canberra, Australia, on Nov. 18, 2014. (Photo credit: Mark Graham/AFP/Getty Images)

One year after history-making political change swept the country, Indians’ fervor for their leader Narendra Modi has not abated. A new poll in India shows the public’s views of the country’s direction and the economy are on the rise.

Even so, Indians continue to see problems in their daily lives and in foreign relations. Nevertheless, in advance of Modi’s visit to the United States later this month, Indians are confident in relations between the two countries. Here are some of the key findings from a new Pew Research Center report:

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Energy and Environment, International Governments and Institutions

Sep 16, 2015 11:00 am

The art and science of the scatterplot

63% of American Adults Can Correctly Read This ChartSPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t yet taken our Science Knowledge Quiz, please do so before reading this any further because we give away one of the answers.

In a recent survey of what Americans know about science, we asked people to interpret the chart you see here and tell us what it showed. Six-in-ten (63%) identify the best interpretation of this chart as “the more sugar people eat, the more likely they are to get cavities.”

This kind of chart — known as a scatterplot — is very familiar to people who are used to working with numbers, such as economists, scientists, researchers and data journalists. It is a good way to show a relationship between two variables.

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Topics: Educational Attainment, Research Methods, Science and Innovation