Results of My Survey, part 1

I have been compiling the results of my survey, which have been fascinating. What started out as a simple curiosity has turned into a small research paper. I will be posting the results in sections, rather than burden people’s blogrolls with the whole thing at once, and also hopefully to allow for digestion and discussion of some of the results.

First, the basics. In total, 147 people participated in this survey. It was distributed via email among friends and family, on my blog, via Facebook, on the “Spurstalk” messageboard, and on the Livejournal “WeirdJews” community. 134 (91%) of the participants live in the United States, while another 3 participants (2%) live in the United States, 2 (1.38%) live in Israel, 2 (1.38%) live in the United Kingdom, 2 (1.38%) live in Canada, and there was also 1 participant from each of the following three countries: Taiwan, Sweden, and Slovenia. An additional 3 participants (2%) had IP addresses that could not be tracked to a country.

With all 147 people answering the first question, 85 people (58%) said they believe in God. 34 (23%) people aren’t sure, while 28 (19%) are absolutely positive there is no God.

With only 139 people answering the specifics of their belief in God, 66 people (17%) believe God is in all things, and 56 people (14%) believe God is in all people. This is essentially “panentheism” – a common intepretation of Jewish monotheism according to Jewish mystics. Notable, then, is that 45 people said they currently belong to a Jewish congregation (either Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, or Orthodox) and an additional 6 people identify with the Jewish religion but are not members of a congregation currently.

Not surprisingly, almost the same number of people (21) who believe Jesus was the Son of God also believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead (22). Also consistent was that 21 people also identified in some way as Christian, though this was scattered across the spectrum with some people identifying as Quaker (2), Catholic (3), Methodist (2), Pentecostal (2), Baptist(1), Episcopalian (1), United Church of Christ (1), Mormon (1), and Unitarian (4). There were at least two people who listed their parents’ churches (Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness) but said they don’t really identify themselves, and two people who identified their church vaguely as “Christian church” and “nondenominational.”

The pool of people responding to the survey turned out to be not very diverse, with only 2 people (2%) identifying as Buddhist, and no Muslim, Sikh, Bahai, or Hindu respondents.

59 people (15%) believe that God is omnipotent, while 54 (14%) believe God has spoken to prophets. 69 people (18%) believe God created the world. There were 10 “other” answers to the question of what people believe about God, ranging from “God is” to “God is the representation of all of the good impulses of humanity.” Perhaps the most intriguing response was “god is too small a term for it.”

A whopping 86 people (59%) said they do not currently belong to a religious institution, while only 60 (41%) said they do. 1 person abstained from this question. Curiously enough, however, on the next question, the number of people who said they do not belong to a religious institution drops to 61 (44%). This is somewhat accounted for by the fact that the first question presents a simply yes or no, while the second question allows people to select “other” and elaborate, as 19 people (14%) chose to do. If we add the 19 “other” votes to the “N/A” votes, that brings the number of people who said for a second time they do not belong to a formal religious institution to 80, which still is not quite the original 86 people from the first time the question was presented. Looking at the total number of respondents who answered each question sheds some light on this disparity. Question 6 (“Do you belong to a house of worship?”) was answered by 144 out of 145 respondents. However, Question 7 (“If you belong to a house of worship, which religion?”) was only responded to by 139 respondents.

An interesting finding emerged that might be of interest to religious communities – the retention of the various faiths. 30 people (21%) indicated that they were raised Catholic, with an additional 3 people indicating in the “other” field that they were “Catholic/Baptist” or “Catholic and Jewish” or “Catholic and nondenominational Christianity.” Yet only 3 people (2%) indicated that they currently belong to a Catholic congregation today. That presents a tremendous retention problem for the Catholic church, and I wonder whether this is reflective of the national percentages.

In contrast, 29 people (20%) said they were raised Protestant. In addition, 2 people said they were raised Mormon and 6 people wrote in some version of “nondenominational” or evangelical Christianity. 1 person wrote in Jehovah’s Witness, 1 person wrote in Quaker, and 1 person wrote in Episcopalian (despite this being a choice amongst the checkboxes.) Folding these 11 answers into the others, that means 40 people who completed the survey were raised Christian but not Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. 17 people identified as belonging to some sort of Christian, non-Catholic religious institution today. This represents a loss, though not as big a loss as the Catholic church logged.

Next, 44 people (30%) said they were raised Jewish. However, including the “other” responses, 46 people said they currently belong to a Jewish congregation or identified with the Jewish faith. Obviously, the total number of Jews in the survey is significantly higher than the national average, but it is nevertheless fascinating to see the disparity in retention.

Finally, 20 people (14%) said they had no religion growing up. 2 people said they were raised “atheist” and one person said “Dad was a Southern Baptist. Mom’s an atheist.” It is interesting to note that while only two people said they were actively raised atheist, and another 20 simply raised without a particular religious belief one way or the other, 28 people indicated in the first question that they definitively do not believe in God. This makes atheism by far the most successful belief system in terms of increasing its numbers.

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~ by realsupergirl on December 3, 2008.

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