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Jan 15 2020

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Adherents.com

But the United States has a greater number of religious groups than any other country in the world, and Adherents.com has literally thousands of adherent statistics for the U.S. This page provides some summary lists of the largest religious groups in the United States. Most of the tables on this page are based on self-identification data (which religious groups people actually say they belong to when surveyed), but some lists based on organizational reporting (membership figures from individual denominations) are shown as well:

  • Twenty Largest Religions in the U.S.
  • Largest Branches of Christianity in the U.S.
  • Ten Largest Denominational Families in the U.S.
  • Largest Denominational Families, based on church attendance
  • Top 10 Largest Religious Bodies in the U.S.
  • Gallup Polling Data over the Last Ten Years
  • Top 10 Religious Bodies with Most Churches
  • Most Ubiquitous Churches in the U.S.
  • Religious Bodies which are the Largest Church in One or More States

  • Washington Post report on extensive year 2000 study: Faith Communities in the United States Today
    Replacement Social Security Card
  • Barna Poll on actual religious beliefs – shows diversity in belief among American Christians: mainline Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, Latter-day Saints, Pentecostals, etc.
  • Note that this page uses the terms “religion”, “branch”, “denominational family” and “religious body” according to the taxonomic classification of religious groups methodology.

    Largest Religions in the United States

    U.S. Religious Affiliation, 2002
    (self-identification, Pew Research Council)

    This table was published in a study titled “Americans Struggle with Religion’s Role at Home and Abroad”, released on March 20, 2002.

    The authors listed are:
    Andrew Kohut, director of The Pew Research Center For The People & The Press
    Melissa Rogers, executive director of The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

    Methodology:
    “The nationwide survey of 2,002 adults, conducted Feb. 25 – March 10 by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “

    Page 49:
    Now, a few questions about your religious affiliation.
    Q.18 What is your religious preference — do you consider yourself Christian, Jewish, Muslim, other non-Christian such as Buddhist or Hindu, atheist, agnostic, something else, or don’t you have a religious preference?

    Christian includes Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox, and other, including non-denominational. Christian respondents were further broken down into branches. See below.

    The largest, most comprehensive surveys on religious identification were done in sociologists Barry A. Kosmin, Seymour P. Lachman and associates at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Their first major study was done in 1990: the National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI). This scientific nationwide survey of 113,000 Americans asked about religious preference, along with other questions. They followed this up, with even more sophisticated methodology and more questions, with the American Religious Identity Survey (ARIS) conducted in 2001, with a sample size of 50,000 Americans.

    The following three tables comes from the NSRI and ARIS data:

    Top Twenty Religions in the United States, 2001
    (self-identification, ARIS)

    Top Ten ORGANIZED Religions in the United States, 2001
    (self-identification, ARIS)

    Top Ten Largest Religions in the United States, 1990
    (self-identification, NSRI)

    * Islam, Buddhist, Hindu figures in table have been adjusted upwards by Kosmin to account for possible undercount.

    ADDITIONAL NOTES:

    Christianity. Note that in the NSRI and ARIS studies, based on self-identification, Christianity includes: Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, Methodist/Wesleyan, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal/Charismatic, Episcopalian/Anglican, Mormon/Latter-day Saints/LDS, Churches of Christ, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh-Day Adventist, Assemblies of God, Holiness/Holy, Congregational/United Church of Christ, Church of the Nazarine, Church of God, Eastern Orthodox, Evangelical, Mennonite, Christian Science, Church of the Brethren, Born Again, Nondenominational Christians, Disciples of Christ, Reformed/Dutch Reformed, Apostolic/New Apostolic, Quaker, Full Gospel, Christian Reform, Foursquare Gospel, Fundamentalist, Salvation Army, Independent Christian Church, Covenant Church, Jewish Christians, plus 240,000 adults classified as “other” (who did not fall into the preceding groups).

    Islam. In recent years Muslim leaders in the United States have optimistically estimated that there were approximately 6.5 million Muslims in the country (Aly Abuzaakouk, American Muslim Council, 1999). In 1998 a Pakistani newspaper even reported that there were 12 million Muslims in the United States (4.2% of the total population)! After the events of September 11, 2001, many newspaper accounts included an estimate of 8 million American Muslims. This would equate to 3% of the U.S. population, or roughly 1 in every 33 people in the country. No comparable figure has ever been confirmed by independent research similar to the Kosmin or Glenmary studies, or the Gallup, Harris, Pew, Barna polls. Currently, surveys consistently report less than 1% of people surveyed identify themselves as Muslims. Muslim community leaders say that many American Muslims are relatively recent immigrants who either do not have telephone service, do not participate in surveys or are afraid to identify themselves as Muslims for fear of anti-Muslim discrimination. Researchers generally agree that the estimate of 300,000 Muslims in the Kosmin study (1990) and Kosmin’s adjusted estimate (to 500,000) are too small to reflect current (year 2005) numbers of American Muslims. In 2004 the National Study of Youth and Religion conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (sample size: 3,370 teens nationwide) found that less than one half of one percent (0.5%) of American teens were Muslim, a proportion right in line with the adult Muslim population, based on other studies. Tom W. Smith of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago is a nationally recognized expert in survey research specializing in the study of social change and survey methodology. Smith published “Estimating the Muslim Population in the United States” in 2001. This is probably the most thorough academic study of this topic in recent years. This study concluded: “The best, adjusted, survey-based estimates put the adult Muslim population in 2000 at 0.67 percent or 1,401,000, and the total Muslim population at 1,886,000. Even if high-side estimates based on local surveys, figures from mosques, and ancestry and immigration statistics are given more weight than the survey-based numbers, it is hard to accept estimates that Muslims are greater than 1 percent of the population (2,090,000 adults or 2,814,000 total).” Additional articles and links are here: Number of Muslims in the United States.

    Jews and Judaism. The American Jewish Identity Survey of 2000, conducted by Barry Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar at the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, concluded that there were 5.5 million Jews in the United States. Of these, 1.4 million were aligned with a religion other than Judaism, 1.4 million were secular or non-religious, leaving 51% of American Jews (just over 3 million people) whose religion was Judaism. The study surveyed 50,000 randomly selected adult Americans. More.

    Baha’i. Some representatives of the Baha’i Faith have questioned their omission from the 1990 NSRI “Top 10” list. The NSRI study indicated there were 28,000 self-identified Baha’is in the United States in 1990, making them the 11th largest religion in the country. If one excludes the “nonreligious” and “agnostic” categories from this list, then the Kosmin study would place Baha’is as the 9th largest religion in the U.S.

    Although the Kosmin study is well-respected, it should be noted that even with a random sample of such unprecedented size (113,000 respondents), the practical margin of error for this study was high for relatively smaller groups — those with less than 300,000 individuals. In this study, there were a few more respondents who said they were Scientologists or Native American religionists than said they were Baha’is. But given the margin of error, it is possible that in 1990 there were actually more Baha’is. This would be the case especially if, as some Baha’is suggested in response to these findings, there were a high proportion of Baha’is who lived communally and did not have phones for each family, or were recent Iranian immigrants reluctant to identify their Baha’i affiliation over the phone because of past persecution. In 1990 the Baha’i world faith itself claimed 110,000 adherents in the United States. If there were 110,000 self-identified Baha’is in 1990 they would have ranked as the 9th largest U.S. religion (assuming that the other Kosmin figures are accurate).

    It is quite possible that growth within this group during this last 9 years has outpaced growth of some other groups, and that Baha’is are now among America’s ten largest religions. But this proposition has not been verified empirically and similar claims of recent growth have also been made by the other groups. Current official estimates from the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly for the U.S. Baha’i population are about 113,000, or about 0.05% of the U.S. population. On 31 March 2000 received information from the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly listing the number of U.S. Baha’is at 133,709. A non-Baha’i historian from the University of Michigan who has scrutinized American Baha’i statistical practices has estimated a current (1999) figure of about 60,000 self-identified Baha’is in the U.S. But, with the ARIS survey now estimating 84,000 adult self-identified Baha’is in the U.S. in the year 2001, it appears that that historian’s estimate is too low. If children are included and a slight undercount assumed, it is quite possible that there were closer to 100,000 (perhaps more) Baha’is in the U.S. in 2001.

    It may also be noted that Baha’is are ranked as one of the world’s ten largest international religious bodies and are among the top ten largest organized religions in the world, based on their current reported estimated membership.


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    SOURCE: http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html

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