Here is an introductory overview of sources, both print and electronic, for finding religious statistical information. These sources go beyond the mere percentages of major religions of nations found in almancs and yearbooks to produce a more comprehensive view of religious data. As always, if you are unable to find the information you need, feel free to Ask a Librarian.
Note: Some locations of print materials may have changed. Consult IUCAT for current locations.
United States Data
Many books contain statistical information on religion in the United States. A few of the sources available at the IUB Wells Library are given below.
Census of Religious Bodies:
Religious Bodies, 1936
ET2, SuDoc Stacks -- C 3.35:936
Religious Bodies, 1926
ET2, SuDoc Stacks -- C 3.35:926
Religious Bodies, 1916
ET2, SuDoc Stacks -- C 3.5:R 27/2
Religious Bodies, 1906
ET2, SuDoc Stacks -- C 3.5:R 27/1
These reports were compiled for the years 1890, 1906, 1916, 1926 and 1936. This data is also available in microfilm format at the IUN library and may be obtained via interlibrary loan or document delivery. This option may be preferable since, although classified, some reports (1890) have not yet been cataloged and may be difficult to locate. The call number for the material at IUN is BR515 .R43 1976 Reel 45-47. The introduction from the 1936 report states that "this report presents the results of the census of religious bodies for the year 1936. As its name implies, this is a census of the religious organizations in the United States rather than of individuals classified according to their religious affiliation."
NOTE: The 1936 Census was the last to report on religious bodies. However, The Statistical Abstract of the United States (available in ET2) contains limited data of this nature for subsequent years.
- Religious Bodies, 1936
Churches and Church Membership in the United States:
Churches and Church Membership in the United States 1990
Research Collections, Reference Dept. -- BR 526.C 48 1992
Churches and Church Membership in the United States 1980
Research Collections, Stacks -- BR 526.C 48 1982
Churches and Church Membership in the United States 1971
Research Collections, Stacks -- BR 526.J 666
The introduction to the 1982 edition provides information about the scope of these sources: "This report contains statistics for 111 Judaeo-Christian church bodies, providing information on the number of their churches and members for regions, states and counties of the United States."
- Churches and Church Membership in the United States 1990
Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches (latest edition)
Research Collections, Reference Dept. -- BR 513.Y 4
This source contains an extensive section of religious statistics for the United States and Canada, primarily covering church membership and seminary enrollment trends. Earlier editions are located in the Research Collections Stacks. Supplemental information is available online at http://www.yearbookofchurches.org/.
One Nation Under God
Undergraduate Library Collection, Stacks -- BL 2525. L335 1993
This book provides U.S. religious statistical information--primarily collected from a 1990 national survey--interspersed throughout the text. In addition, there is an appendix devoted to religious statistics collection. There is no index of figures, tables and graphs.
Finding information on religious statistics for countries other than the United States can sometimes be more difficult. A primary source for finding this information would be censuses. In addition, online searching may produce favorable results. To provide several sources of religious statistical data for ALL nations is beyond the scope of this guide. It is perhaps most beneficial to propose general search strategies with the aid of a specific example. One must also consider that the IU libraries may not hold such data for all countries. For additional assistance, see the Electronic Sources section of this guide. Finally, visit or contact a library reference service point for assistance.
For example, the following terms were used with IUCAT to find religious data for India:
India -- religion -- statistics
For countries, or regions, other than India, insert that country into the position that India holds in this search string. More results may be produced by replacing "religion" with the term "church."
The above search string produced some of the following items:
Population Profile of Religion in India
BL 2007.7.B 67 1997 Research Collections, Stacks
The preface of this work states that "the focus of the present publication is on the religious composition of India's population based on published and unpublished . . . data from the 1991 Census of India." The information includes "the distribution of population by religion for rural and urban areas separately for each district in each State and Union Territory of India."
Household Population by Religion of Head of Household, Mizoram
ET2, LC Stacks -- HA 4587 .M58 H685 1986
Household Population by Religion of Head of Household, Orissa
ET2, LC Stacks -- HA 4587 .O753 H685 1987
Household Population by Religion of Head of Household, Arunachal Pradesh
ET2, LC Stacks -- HA 4857 .A782 H685 1985
Household Population by Religion of Head of Household, Tamil Nadu
ET2, LC Stacks -- HA 4857 .T363 H685 1986
These reports contain information organized by six major religions (Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism), as well as other religions and persuasions, and religion not stated collected from the 1981 Census of India. Although broken down into ever smaller areas of governance (e.g. state, district, town), statistics for the Indian population as a whole are also given. These are just a few of the items returned. Please consult IUCAT to determine the other geographic regions covered by the 1981 census and the call numbers of the respective publications.
The coverage of these sources is generally international, including statistics from both the United States and other nations. However, these sources are divided into three categories: Comprehensive (to indicate global coverage and general data), United States (to indicate coverage only of the U.S.), and International (for country-specific data).
"Adherents.com is a growing collection of over 41,000 adherent statistics and religious geography citations -- references to published membership/adherent statistics and congregation statistics for over 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, etc. "Basically, researchers can use this site to answer such questions as 'How many Quakers live in Indiana?', 'What are the major religions of Nigeria?', or 'What percentage of the world is Buddhist?' We present data from both primary research sources such as government census reports, statistical sampling surveys and organizational reporting, as well as citations from secondary literature which mention adherent statistics."
Catholic Encyclopedia: Statistics of Religions
"This study concerns itself with religious bodies, the number of their members, and their distribution over various countries." This site provides historical statistics for major world religions.
ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials
A database available ONLY at IUB libraries, searching for "religious statistics" may provide useful citations.
Seventh-Day Adventist Church Statistics
This site contains world-wide coverage of statistics for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, with dates ranging from the early 20th century to the present.
ARDA (American Religion Data Archives)
This page presents quantitative data on American religion, including data on churches and church membership, religious professionals, and religious groups.
General Social Surveys--Subject--Religion
This page covers various topics ranging from church membership to religious service attendance.
Barna Research Online -- Research Archives
This page includes "40 categories of data relating to the lives of Americans today -- especially their faith. Each category contains recent statistics from national Barna Research surveys related to the topic" in a textual format.
Social, Religious, and Census Data Sites
Maintained by the Hartford Institure for Religion Research, this page has an extensive listing of Websites containing statistical data.
Denominational Faith Communities Today Reports
This page is part of a larger site maintained by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and lists links to statistics on various religious groups in the United States, which can be found in the Online Resources page. This group has undertaken several massive surveys of congregations across the country, whose findings are available online at this website along with the questionnaires themselves.