Archived: Statistics by Tradition (2004)

This is working document that compiled statistics from numerous sources and was last updated in 2004. Please click here for more current statistical information. 

  • Resources
  • Afro-Caribbean
  • Atheism and Non-Religious Philosophies
  • Baha’i
  • BuddhismBuddhism is a multi-hued tradition of life, thought, and practice that has developed from the teaching and practice of Siddhartha Gautama (6th century BCE) who came to be called the Buddha, the awakened one. The three major streams of the tradition—Ther...
  • ChristianityChristianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church.
  • Hinduism“Hindu” was originally a word given by the Greeks, then the Persians, to the land and peoples beyond the Indus or “Sindhu” River. The term “Hinduism” came into common use only in the 19th century to describe a complex and dynamic pattern of li...
  • IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to...
  • JainismThe term Jain or Jaina refers to the tradition of the Jinas, the “victorious ones” who have won spiritual liberation, and to those who follow it. The Jain tradition as we know it dates back some 2500 years to the life of the teacher Mahavira, said to ...
  • JudaismJudaism is the worldview, the way of life, and the religious practice of the Jewish people, living in covenant with God and in response to Torah, the laws and ethics which guide the pattern of Jewish life. Jews today interpret their three thousand year ol...
  • PaganismThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga...
  • SikhismSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob...
  • ZoroastrianismOriginating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the pra...
  • Total Population

Afro-Caribbean Statistics

“Hundreds of thousands of African Americans and Caribbean immigrants in major cities throughout the country follow these [African-based] traditions.” Karen McCarthy Brown, “You Better Believe Federal Faith-Based Funding Is a Bad Idea,” Los Angeles Times, 24 December 2002, 13(B).

Atheism and Non-Religious Philosophies Statistics

  • 35,136,000 – The Barna Research Group, 2004
    (Percentage converted using appropriate year total population)
    12% of adults nationwide in 2004 are purported to be atheists and agnosticsA person who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not a god exists. One can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist and the term is often seen to be seen as a kind of “middle ground between theism and atheism. according to the The Barna Research Group. In an earlier study “15% of those surveyed indicated GodGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality. was no longer involved in their life in 1997.”
  • 39,826,000 – American Religion Data Archive 2002 (Percentage converted using appropriate year total population) 13.8% of those surveyed in 2002 by ARDA identified themselves as having ‘no religion,’ a rise from 9% in 1993. The survey attributes some of this change to a 11% drop in Americans who had identified themselves as ProtestantsProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists....
  • 29,400,000 – American Religious Identification Survey 2001 “(Between the 1990 and 2001 studies, the) greatest increase in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification. Their number has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001. (Furthermore), their proportion has grown from just eight percent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001.”

Baha’i Statistics: 142,245 – 767,000

  • 149,222 — 2004 World Almanac.
  • 147,473 — 2003 World Almanac.
  • 133,000 — 2000 World Almanac, based on 1999 Yearbook of American and Canadian ChurchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ...
  • 753,000 — 2002 Britannica Book of the Year estimate for 2000.
  • 767,000 — Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.
  • 142,245 — Ellen Wheeler, Assistant Director of the Office of Public Information for the
  • Baha’is of the United States (212-803-2500) reports:
    • 1,152 Local Spiritual AssembliesThe spiritual assembly is the basic organizational structure of the Bahá’í Faith. Local spiritual assemblies may be formed anywhere that nine or more Bahá’ís live, and national spiritual assemblies are created at the national or regions level when... in the U.S., of at least 9 people each.
    • 142,245 Total Number of Baha’is in the U.S. (as of July 2000).
    • 127,408 Adults — 7,403 Youth — 7,434 Children

Every country is different; in the U.S. they sign a declaration card which is sent to national center in Chicago. A national newsletter is sent out, and she thinks that the national number is somewhat higher than state figures, where mail returns and deceased notification are taken out of the figures.

“Reflecting its modest numbers – about one-twentieth of 1 percent of the U.S. population – the Baha’i community has wielded only limited influence on American society. Nonetheless, Baha’is have channeled their efforts into two streams of continuing importance: world peace and improved race relations. Particularly in the later realm, Baha’is influence may yet come to outweigh its numbers. Both by principle and by demographic fact, American Baha’is are a highly diverse lot. As a community, Baha’is may prove an instructive laboratory for the creation of values essential to ensure mutual respect in an increasingly diverse society.” Gaustad and Barlow, New Historical Atlas of Religion in America. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Buddhism Statistics

  • estimates range from 2,450,000 to 3-4 million
  • 2-3 million – 2004 World Almanac.
  • 2,500,000 – Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.

Richard Seager writes in Buddhism in America that:
“A few statistics on American Buddhism are available, but they vary considerably. One source put the total number of practicing Buddhists at a round one million in 1990, but another at 5 or 6 million only a few years later. A more recent estimate must be considered rough, but appears to be the best available.

Martin Baumann of Germany suggested in 1997 that there were 3 or 4 million Buddhists in the United States, the most in any western country. In contrast, he estimated that there were 650,000 Buddhists in France and 180,000 Buddhists in Great Britain. His estimates also suggest that converts consistently are out numbered by immigrants. In the same year, France had roughly 150,000 converts and 500,000 immigrants, Great Britain 50,000 and 130,000 respectively. In the United States, he estimated there were 800,000 converts and between 2.2 and 3.2 million Buddhists in immigrant communities.
These figures , however, need to be treated with caution. In the same year, 1997, Time magazine suggested there were ‘some 100,000’ American Buddhist converts. It did not even venture to estimate the number of Buddhist immigrants. As a result, we must proceed without definite information regarding the actual number of American Buddhists. Suffice it to say, there are a great many and, more important, they are engaged in practicing the dharmaDharma means religion, religious duty, religious teaching. The word dharma comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to uphold, support, bear,” thus dharma is that order of things which informs the whole world, from the laws of nature to the inner workings ... in a wide variety of fascinating ways.”

Richard Seager, Buddhism in America, New York: Columbia University Press, 1999, p.11
Martin Bauman, in The Dharma Has Come West: A Survey of Recent Studies and Sources, on line at http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma/survey.html, writes that in the mid 1990’s there are roughly 3-4 million Buddhists in the U.S., which includes 800,000 Euro/American Buddhists. He estimates 500-600 centers, and using a total population figure of 261 million, Buddhists represent 1.6%, which is significantly higher than any of the other countries he lists.

Charles Prebish in Luminous Passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999) also reprints Bauman’s figures.
Don Morreale lists over a thousand centers in the US and Canada in The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. (Boston: ShambhalaFormed in 1973 by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Shambhala Vajradhatu is a worldwide organization with its headquarters in Halifax, Nova Scotia, two other main centers in Boulder, Colorado and Marburg, Germany, and more than 100 meditation centers around the w... Publications, 1998)
2,450,000 — 2002 Britannica Book of the Year estimate for 2000.

Between one and two million Americans formally practice Buddhism — 2000 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Christianity Statistics

  • 161,145,004 – Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches report of “inclusive enrollment” for 2004.
  • 158,952,292 – Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches report of “inclusive enrollment” for 2003.
  • The 2003 World Almanac offers breakdowns by churchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ..., based on 2002 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
  • 238,893,000 – Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.
  • 261,752,000 — 2002 Britannica Book of the Year estimate for 2001.
  • 235,742,000 — 2000 Britannica Book of the Year estimate for 2000.
  • 158,294,022 — The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches report of “inclusive enrollment” for 1998.
  • The 2000 World Almanac offers breakdowns by church, based on 1999 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Hinduism Statistics

  • 1,200,000
  • 1,285,000 – 2004 World Almanac.
  • 1,050,000 – Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.
  • 1,285,000 — 2003 World Almanac.
  • 1,032,000 — 2002 Britannica Book of the Year estimate for 2000.
  • 1,285,000 — 2000 World Almanac estimate, based on 1999 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

“The 1990 U.S. Census indicated that the number of Asian Indians in the United States (not all of them Hindus) increased 125 percent during the 1980s, rising to 815,000 (about 0.3 percent of the U.S. population). When non-Asian Hindus are incorporated into the equation, one arrives at a total of well over 1 million Hindus residing in the United States.” Gaustan, Edwin Scott and Philip L. Barlow. New Historical Atlas of Religion in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000., p.272.

Islam Statistics

  • 2,560,000 to 4,390,000 — Minimum Muslim total range, Nimer 2002
  • 5-6 million – 2004 World Almanac.
  • 4,200,000 – Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.
    News Articles on the New Studies on the Number of Muslims in the U.S. www.pluralism.org/news/index.php?tags=2093
  • 6 million — Ibrahim Hooper, Council on American Islamic Relations Communications Director (202-659-2247).
  • 2,800,000 — 2003 World Almanac.
  • 4,132,000 — 2002 Britannica Book of the Year estimate for 2000 (This includes 1,650,000 Black Muslims).
  • 23.8% of American Muslims are African American according to American Muslim Council’s Zogby poll of August 2000.
  • 5,500,000 — 2000 World Almanac estimate, based on 1999 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
  • About 6 million — Estimated study in 1998; agreed upon by most Muslim organizations. Neveen Salem, American Muslim Council Director of Communications and Media (media@amconline.org 202-789-2262).

 

Jainism Statistics

  • 25,000 – 75,000
  • 7,000 in North America – 2004 World Almanac.
  • 7,000 – Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.
  • Student research posted on the web at http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/jainism.html uses mostly references from 1992. The numbers given are approximate:
    • 4,000,000 Jains worldwide
    • 75,000 in the U.S.
    • 21,000 in Africa, and
    • 5,000 scattered throughout (non-Indian) Asia

On Common Ground suggests 3,000,000 worldwide and 20,000 in North America.
Jainism in America, by Bhuvanendra Kumar (Mississauga, Ont.: Jain Humanities Press, 1996), offers an estimate of 60,000 to 100,000 Jains in the U.S. He cites the Jain Directory of North America 1992 as 11,335 total Jain population, but a too low figure because 10,000 attended the Convention in Chicago. By transposing large attendance figures from one center to others across the country, he arrives at his 60,000-100,000 figure. John Connell and Francis Assisi both report 40,000 Jains in North America.
Jainism: The World of Conquerors by Natubhai Shah (Sussex Academic Press, 1998) estimates “about 50,000 Jains in the United States.” (p.259)

“In the early 1990s, there were an estimated 20,000 American Jains (5000 families). Jain centers and templesA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... doubled from 34 in 1987 to more than 60 by the mid-1990s. Communities exist in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces, but 80 percent of North American Jains live in ten states, dominated by New Jersey (16 percent), California (15 percent), and New York (12 percent), with significant representation in Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Texas.” Gaustad and Barlow, New Historical Atlas of Religion in America, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, p.272).

Judaism Statistics

  • 5,621,000 – 6,150,000
  • 6,150,000 – 2004 World Almanac.
  • 5,620,000 – Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.
  • 5,621,000 — 2002 Britannica Book of the Year estimate for 2000.

6,061,000 — American Jewish Committee estimate of Jewish population in the U.S. (2.2% of U.S. population, exclusive of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands). Ken Bandler, Director of Public Relations and Communications, (212-751-4000 x 271.)

Paganism Statistics

  • 200,000 – 1,000,000
  • 768,400 — Estimated Witches and PagansThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga... in the U.S., according to the CovenantA covenant (or brit) is a mutual promise or compact between two parties. In the Jewish and Christian traditions, covenant is of deep significance in describing the mutual relationship of God and the people of faith. The major covenants in Jewish scripture... of the GoddessGoddess is a term used to refer to the female deity, either in the singular as the supreme divine reality, or in the plural as one of many particular or localized feminine deities. In the Hindu tradition, the Goddess refers to the very powerful, even supr..., a national organization who published results of a recent poll (10/7/2000) on the web. Their methodology is not explained on the website. (http://www.cog.org/cogpoll_final.html)
  • 750,000 — Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.org has put out an article that lists the widely varying figures on their website. They suggest a 50% margin of error for all estimates. (http://religioustolerance.org/wic_nbr.htm)
  • 200,000 is an often cited figure. A Barnes and Noble marketing executive cited on the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance website suggest a PaganThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga... Buying Audience of 10 million.
  • 1,000,000 — The Witches’ Voice, a major Pagan website, writes on their page for the press (http://www.witchvox.com/xpress.html): “No one knows for sure but we do know that the number is increasing rapidly. Our best estimate here at The Witches’ Voice about 1 million in the U.S. and 3 million worldwide. Adherents.Com estimates about 1 million Neo-pagans worldwide in its list of the world’s major religions.” The Witches’ Voice maintain a list of about 3,000 Pagan Web Sites.

Sikhism Statistics

  • 250,000
  • 250,000 – 2004 World Almanac.
  • 238,000 – Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.
  • 234,000 — 2002 Britannica Book of the Year estimate for 2000.

Zoroastrianism Statistics

  • 18,000
  • 80,600 in North America – 2004 World Almanac.
  • 53,600 – Encyclopedia Britannica Online estimate for 2000.
  • 18,000 — The FezanaFEZANA, the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, was founded in 1986 to serve as an umbrella organization for Zoroastrian associations in the U.S. and Canada. This organization publishes the quarterly FEZANA Journal and sponsors numero... estimate of ZoroastriansOriginating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the pra... in U.S., plus another 7,000 in Canada.

Total Population

  • 292,801,000 – US Census Bureau 2004
  • 288,600,000 – US Census Bureau 2002

World Almanac. New York: Press Publishing Co., 2004, 2003, 2000.
“Year in Review: 2003” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. http://www.encyclopediabritannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9398041 [Accessed October 11, 2004].
Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004.
Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003.
Burgan, Michael. Buddhist Faith in America. New York: Shoreline Publishing Group LLC, 2003.
World Almanac. New York: Press Publishing Co., 2003.
World Almanac. New York: Press Publishing Co., 2000.
Britannica Book of the Year. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2002.
Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000.
Davis, J.A. and Smith, T.W. (2002). General Social Survey. CT: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. (associated with Dir. Roger Finke, American Religion Data Archive, Department of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University).www.thearda.com/file_main.asp?FILE=GSS2002&Show=Analyz
Gaustad, Edwin Scott and Philip L. Barlow. New Historical Atlas of Religion in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Mayer, E., Kosmin, B. A., and Keusar, A. (2001). American Religious Identification Survey. NY: The Graduate Center, The City University of New York. www.gc.cuny.edu/studies/key_findings.htm
Morreale, Don, The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1998.
Nimer, Mohamed. The North American Muslim Resource Guide: Muslim Community Life in the United States and Canada. New York: Routledge, 2002. 21-22, 26-27.
Prebish, Charles S. Luminous passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
Seager, Richard. Buddhism in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.