Talk:Religion in the United States

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Catholic, Protestant, or Christian[edit]

There appears to be a mistake in the first paragraph of this article. It says that 25% are Catholic and 51% are Christian. This wording implies that Catholics are not Christians. I believe the correct phrasing should be 25% Catholic and 51% protestants. JoAnnSmotherman (talk) 17:06, 29 July 2013 (UTC) JoAnn Smotherman

It comes from someone trying too slavishly to copy the ARIS wording about the "30 groupings" of non-Catholic Christians. Others might not group the denominations/etc. the same way, so it's sufficient to simply identify the Catholics as the largest subgroup, seeing as how nobody else is even close. Mangoe (talk) 20:30, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Misleading quote...[edit]

I find that this reference is a bit misleading on the article page.

Despite a high level of religious adherence, only 9% of Americans in a 2008 poll said religion was the most important thing in their life, compared with 45% who said family was paramount in their life and 17% who said money and career was paramount.

I went to the original source and noticed that the original source really expressed that religion was the most important thing in people's lives in comparison to other aspects of life, like career, money, or family. The word "despite that" in the quotation makes it sound like prioritizing other things before religion would make a person more secular and less religious. I don't see the connection there at all. A person may value career and money, because a person needs to feed himself/herself. A person may value family, because the family functions like a support group. Finally, a person may value the importance of religion in his/her life but not to the point that he/she will give up his/her other values - like family, money, or career. For instance, sometimes religious groups may offer special ceremonies at certain moments in one's lifetime (baptisms, child dedications, confirmations, bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, exorcisms, prayers, healing rituals, etc.), and sometimes people like to use the church as a social outlet. Honestly, I think a person is still religious if he/she still identifies with a religious tradition and upholds values, ethics, beliefs, and practices of that tradition and supports the religious community. I think the initial dependent clause is misleading the point of the survey. Sneazy (talk) 02:16, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

The adjective "only" is a giveaway. It is 9%. It is not "only" or "an incredible" or any other adjective. "Only" is out of place and WP:POV. Let the reader decide if this is bad or good or shocking or boring. We should not be trying to "lead" the reader with casually added adjectives even if copied from an otherwise WP:RS. We're not the media. We are an encyclopedia. Thanks. Student7 (talk) 17:38, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

It seems more source is required for this article, considering this is about religion in the United States so segmentation and citations must reflect levels of adherence from devout to disillusioned as with Orthodoxy to reformed. Attitude is a data segmentation which does not represent a WP:POV. Plenty of people go to traditional religious functions and perform religious ritual only out of deference to others. Kristina Johnson72.80.126.76 (talk) 05:36, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Missing Segment of Excommunication Unreported among Catholic and Orthodox faiths[edit] (talk) 17:58, 1 September 2013 (UTC)The article does not mention non-adherence data which by de facto prescribed by the doctrine of faith excludes claims of “belonging to the faith”. As with the decision with regards to Catholic doctrine there cannot actually be a Divorced Catholic. The very act of divorce is unresolvable and un-atonable which provides no act of attrition to resolve excommunication, an act of contrition cannot meet the requirement to resolve the excommunication . Therefore all divorced Catholics claiming to be actual Catholics by “self-dispensation” must be considered and included as protestant “Disillusioned Catholics Protestant-not otherwise specified”.

I would correct this reporting error if I had available citations to reference I believe the number of Catholics whom are divorced is 28%.

Required acts of attrition are as follows:

Atonement by remarriage of original spouse

Atonement after spouse dies

Atonement at point of death (last rites)

Please note: an "act of Attrition" (diminishing in value or correcting the natural state of sin); is not to be confused with an "act of contrition" (which is making atonement for an already completed sin, to demonstrate remorse)

Kristina Johnson72.80.126.76 (talk) 17:58, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

This information is not correct. A divorced Catholic is not excommunicated. If a Catholic remarries without an annulment they are not to receive the sacraments but they are not excommunicated.Marauder40 (talk) 22:24, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

This is not a forum for debate or argument, "not receiving sacrament" is excommunication; some may not understand the absolute definition of excommunication; "out of communication with Christ, through the holy roman church", or perhaps some might have a personal interpretation or difficulty accepting the fact that a divorced cannot get absolution from the confessional for any other minor sin, or perhaps some do not understand the term "de facto" which is not a formal notification from the church, the church will not throw a divorced catholic out or not talk to an excommunicated Catholic as would be with a Excommunicated Jehovah's witness. This is only a change in PR which tries to align itself with the modern world, no doctrine has been changed and only reflects an attitude change to not openly discuss doctrine. (talk) 06:14, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Again a divorced Catholic is not excommunicated. One that doesn't remarry is able to receive all the sacraments (except marriage) without problem. One that marries without an annulment is not to receive the sacraments but is still part of the Church. They can still attend Mass and any other public events. They are just not supposed to receive communion. If they go to confession and vow to live together as brother/sister they can receive the sacraments. Right now everything you have is WP:OR and without a valid WP:RS does not warrant being added to the article. There is no such thing a "de facto" excommunication in the Catholic church.Marauder40 (talk) 12:25, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Again, this is not a forum for debate or argument, everything I have mentioned is not WP:OR, having a better understanding of the meaning of words does not have to be cited, making a semantic argument to a needed data segmentation is not a "neutral point of view"; obscuring the meaning of excommunication does not make it required to include a WP:RS Terms do not require citation necessarily; due to the reader’s lack of vocabulary. Canon Law or ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church, in itself and as you stated of what is denied a divorced catholic is citation enough. You are simple observing the nature of the modern Catholic Church for not fully enforcing its doctrine.

To make this clearer to you’ by de jure “prescribed by canon law” is not being strongly enforced for the de facto status of a divorced catholic. It is unlikely a divorced catholic will live as brother/sister so you are using a unique and strange circumstance to further an argument of semantics. When a divorced Catholic goes to mass, they are in a state of “de facto” excommunication receiving the blessing of the “unrepentant” which is the church’s privilege of “proselytization” or the non-faithful or unrepentant.

If you wish to contribute to this article’s discussion, please simply ask for citation or provide a citation to the exact meaning of excommunicated as prescribed by doctrine that is established by canon law, and not give personal opinions as to what you feel is practiced in a church which demonstrates "personal bias". Unfortunately, everything you challenge is from WP:OR, (personal opinion of practice) ignoring the significance of not receiving communion and having acts of contrition unavailable to a divorced catholic.

This obvious confusion by parishioners and how they would interoperate “practice” from “doctrine”, where practice seems to be in contradiction with canon law is a common mistake.

The request for the inclusion of “Disillusioned Catholic Protestant-not otherwise specified” is self-evident; because a disillusionment of marriage is automatically also, a disillusionment of the Catholic Church; the act is inseverable. Please do not respond further to this subject, which talk makes request for data to be included for a more accurate segmentation. Kristina Johnson72.80.126.76 (talk) 22:14, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Please either suggest a specific change to the article or get off the Soapbox.Marauder40 (talk) 17:09, 5 September 2013 (UTC)


I don't seem to find much information on territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, etc. Is there a reason? Isaac Fermin 01:58, 28 October 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Supyloco (talkcontribs)


You guys seem to think its ok to put the highest church states in red like that's a bad thing and the opposite green, looks like atheist Wikipedia seems to be biased, and that's not fair to the rest of us. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:52, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm assuming the editors were looking for a range of colors that would contrast, where significant, and not contrast where similar. What would you suggest? Student7 (talk) 21:56, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
(I'm not the original poster, but someone who agrees that the color scheme may set people off, for the connotation reasons that the poster above noted. If the original poster disagrees with my suggestion, I welcome him to say so.) Varying intensities of the same color might work well, especially if it were a connotation-neutral color like brown or blue--or even something in greyscale. There are enough different shades--and different-enough shades--of many different colors. I think this would allow the map to show the distribution of American religion clearly and properly without evoking the "Alert! Alert! Danger! Danger! Religion!" meaning that the first poster seemed to take from the color scheme as it stands. (That said, I should note that I highly, highly, highly doubt that "Alert! Alert! Danger! Danger! Religion!" was what the person who put the map up was trying to convey. But the first response does show that it's something that the color scheme can inadvertently communicate.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:41, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
I have never seen a map that used red as a warning code. That's a traffic light code. In American TV usage red stands for Republican state (vs Democrats = blue), and indeed the map looks like an election map. In British usage red = world map color scheme for British Empire. Rjensen (talk) 22:22, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
It started as a traffic code, yes, but you do have to admit that it's taken on other cultural meanings, at least in the United States. Think about, for instance, those stupid "terror alert levels" that DHS used to put out. Red was for "severe" alerts, orange for "high" alerts, etc., etc., until you got to green for "low" alerts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:03, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
(Tried to put this in, but somehow it didn't save). And, as for maps using red as a warning code, weather maps kind of do that. If you see a blob of red moving toward you on the radar, you know you're going to be hit by a fairly large storm. (Though, that said, considering that radar maps use the colors to indicate the intensity of the weather--red and orange where there is "more weather happening," green where there is less--that analogy is more of an argument to keep the map the way it is now.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:14, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
The green-to-red color scale is connotationally problematic; also it's not kind to red-green colorblindness. I also would suggest a change to a color intensity scale. Mangoe (talk) 15:04, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Which data to use?[edit]

Latest gallup data was reverted to older CIA-Handbook data by Andreas11213. Let us discuss here, how to proceed and which data should be used. Nillurcheier (talk) 14:33, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

I've reverted back to before Andreas's editing. The CIA handbook data should only be used if nothing else more reliable is available (I have found it to be wrong in the past about religious stats which makes me wary). The handbook does not cite sources which makes it hard to judge its reliability.--Erp (talk) 20:19, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
The CIA Factbook is probably using the Landmark Survey as described by Pew[1] given that the figures match. The Survey since it was so large has useful detail especially for smaller denominations (e.g., sub divisions of Judaism or Buddhism) but it is 2007 so 7-8 years old. The Gallup poll is more recent but doesn't go into fine detail (I'll note that the Gallup poll goes from 51% Protestant [2007] to 37% Protestant [2014] so things have changed). I'm also against merging all the Christianities together into one item for the pie chart if the source is more specific. --Erp (talk) 03:09, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Gallup is a website that conducts opinion polling. The CIA is the federal intelligence agency of the United States Government. I think the CIA should be given more credibility, seeing as they specialize in gathering statistics like this. Gallup is more focused on conducting political opinion polls such as the approval/disapproval rating of the president, etc. They are not specialized in gathering statistics at the size of the US population, most of their polls only survey 1500-2000 respondents at most. I think that the CIA statistics should be used. I also oppose the merging of the Christian denominations. Andreas11213 (talk) 10:34, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
The CIA does not do its own surveys but relies on others (and it does not always cite its sources which very well could be opinion polls done by others for some countries), in this case almost certainly the Landscape survey (whose numbers, btw, match reasonably well with the Gallup poll results for that year). If we go with the 2007 data, we cite the Landscape survey not the CIA. BTW for its religion questions, Gallop aggregates its polls for the entire year (apparently religion is one of its standard questions) so the number asked in this case is far larger than 1500-2000. Gallop isn't ideal but give a choice between a poll aggregate done over the last year and an in depth survey collected 7+ years ago I go with the poll aggregate for broad up front statements such as the pie chart and the in depth survey for fine details in the article itself (but noting the information is older). I would also not merge the Christian denominations since it is useful information when the chunk is so large to know whether it is mainly Catholic, mainly Protestant (or some Protestant denomination like the state church in Iceland), or closer to half and half (just as in a majority Muslim country it would be useful to see Sunni/Shiite breakdown). --Erp (talk) 02:56, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

Black Protestants?[edit]

Really? What is the reason to segregate black and non-black protestants?

The black started setting up their own separate churches around 1800. With emancipation in the 1860s, the great majority of black Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterians, Disciples and others self-segregated by breaking away from the white churches. They never reunited. The Catholics, however, did not split. For a recent study see Love Henry Whelchel, Sherman's March and the Emergence of the Independent Black Church Movement: From Atlanta to the Sea to Emancipation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) Rjensen (talk) 04:12, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Due to historic segregation within Protestant churches (Blacks had to sit at the back and could not become leaders), Blacks formed their own churches and belonged to their own denominations (e.g., AME Zion, AME, National Baptist Convention, Church of God in Christ, ...) while Whites had their denominations (Methodist, Episcopal, American Baptist, Southern Baptist). And members of the traditionally Black churches often had and have very different political and social views than their White church counterparts. The Catholic church was and is more integrated. Things are slowly changing but still in many places in the US the most segregated hour of the week is Sunday morning. In any case most scientific studies of US religion will separate mainline churches, Black churches, and other Protestant churches. --Erp (talk) 04:34, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Nowdays it's more de facto segregation; self-segregation. It's easier to attend the church across the street than the one across the river. And cultural, like most church affiliations. I'm used to this. Why change it? Student7 (talk) 14:31, 29 April 2015 (UTC)


"Although some New England States continued to use tax money to fund local Congregational churches into the 1830s, the United States claims to have been the first nation to have no official state-endorsed religion." is an awful statement, and the cite doesn't back it up at all. "The United States claims..." is inappropriate; who is making this claim, the United States Department of State, the Library of Congress, who? The cite has some non-government associated authors claim it, which is a huge leap to "the United States claims". Secondly, how does the 1830s factor in? Is it relatively clear that in 1776, the US was the first not to have a federal religion? Can we name other nations without an official state-endorsed religion prior to 1830s? (Can we get that date more exact?) Revolutionary France? Napoleonic France seems to have basically endorsed Catholicism.--Prosfilaes (talk) 22:24, 16 September 2015 (UTC)

the US federal government made the claim. President John Adams & a unimous Senate endorsed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1897 that stated: ""the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Rjensen (talk) 22:28, 16 September 2015 (UTC)
That is not the claim under question here. The claim is to be the first nation to have no official state-endorsed religion. I've rewritten the text on the page to match the cite more; there doesn't seem to be a good page on Wikipedia about the establishments of the churches in the various states.--Prosfilaes (talk) 22:37, 16 September 2015 (UTC)


A Abrahamic Christianity demographics phrase reads "Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, from which members in the United States are combined with Canadian members". Emphasis mine. We shouldn't be combining Canadian population in a US article! Student7 (talk) 16:35, 18 September 2015 (UTC)

Book on the influence of polling[edit]

Inventing American Religion: Polls, Surveys, and the Tenuous Quest for a Nation's Faith by Robert Wuthnow, 2015, Oxford University Press Jodi.a.schneider (talk) 14:10, 17 November 2015 (UTC)


I know it is easy to view Pastafarianism as pure satire and a non-religion. However, as a Pastafarian, I (and many other Pastafarians) consider it a legitimate religion. In addition, there are many news stories proving that there are Pastafarians who consider it an actual religion (see the Flying Spaghetti Monster article, particularly Section 5 titled "Legal battles"). Therefor, I believe very strongly that it belongs in this article under Section 6 titled "Others". I would appreciate everyone's understanding in my decision to add it to the first paragraph of Others.

And before you try to argue, consider that Christianity was likely considered more of a "social movement" than a religion 2,000 years ago. I doubt Jesus himself considered that he was starting a new religion but instead probably considered himself to be expanding on existing Jewish teachins of the time; yet, here we are today considering Christianity as an honest-and-true religion. I don't go around telling Christians that they practice a "social movement" rather than a "religion", please don't say the same of my religion.

~Piki (talk) 18:20, 18 December 2015 (UTC)

To avoid any misunderstandings or arguements, I feel the need for a quick amendmant to what I said above:

I am not trying to take a stab at the Christians or the Christian faith, I am simply trying to make a point that many religions take on the guise of a "social movement" very early in their history.

Besides, I come from a Christian background and a Christian family, I therefor have no wish to pick a fight with the Christians. Pastafarian teachings include religious tolerance anyway.

~Piki (talk) 18:48, 18 December 2015 (UTC)


Wanna discusd some basic matters about us and uk religion. Jason.bugab (talk) 14:27, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

Undue in the Christianity section[edit]

While I don't doubt the veracity or reliability of sources. The Christianity section about Protestant education is undue in that no other group receives the same treatment. I have no issue with inclusion in the article, this is the wrong place and should be moved to a history section or something similar:

"Historians agree that members of mainline Protestant denominations have played leadership roles in many aspects of American life, including politics, business, science, the arts, and education. They founded most of the country's leading institutes of higher education.[17] Mainline Protestants such as Episcopalians and Presbyterians tend to be considerably wealthier[18] and better educated than most other religious groups in the United States.[19]
Some of the first colleges and universities in America, including Harvard,[20] Yale,[21] Princeton,[22] Columbia,[23] Dartmouth, Williams, Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Amherst, all were founded by mainline Protestant denominations, as were later Carleton, Duke,[24] Oberlin, Beloit, Pomona, Rollins and Colorado College."

Very undue where it is....There are also many Catholic, Jesuit and Mormon colleges in the US that are as old or older than some of the colleges listed, why pull out only Protestants? Lipsquid (talk) 18:27, 15 March 2016 (UTC)

If there is no negative feedback, I will move or remove the paragraph. Lipsquid (talk) 19:33, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
Why pull out the Prot--because the paragrapoh is only about about the Mainline Prot groups and is accurate. We can drop the phrase "as were later Carleton, Duke,[24] Oberlin, Beloit, Pomona, Rollins and Colorado College." which is indeed misleading because it's a small fraction. Rjensen (talk) 19:48, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
Keep too, the paragrapoh is about the Mainline Protestant groups and supported by good sources.--Jobas (talk) 19:55, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
Why just protestant colleges and why the comment about wealth? Actually Jewish people are both the best educated and wealthiest group in the US by religion. Just because you found a source, doesn't mean that something is not WP:UNDUE Lipsquid (talk) 20:10, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
The mainline Protestant colleges listed, such as Harvard Yale Princeton etc. dominated the American educational structure at the time they were founded, and largely do so to the present day. Hundreds of later private colleges were modeled after them-- so they are very important. Rjensen (talk) 20:20, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
I don't disagree, just question the section for the reasons stated above. Lipsquid (talk) 21:02, 18 March 2016 (UTC)