Williamsburg Charter Survey On Religion and Public Life, 1987

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"On the eve of the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights, it is plain that controversies about religion in public life are as lively and potent today as when the First Amendment was being debated nearly 200 years ago. But how do the American people view the place of religion in public life today? Is there a vital knowledge of the Constitution? Where do Americans currently draw the line between church and state: Are there significant limits to tolerance? To answer such questions and help assess the state of the union regarding religion and public life, the Williamsburg Charter Foundation commissioned a nationwide opinion survey...to learn how people view these issues 200 years into the American Experiment" (The Williamsburg Charter Survey on Religion and Public Life 1988).

Data File
Cases: 3,363
Variables: 109
Weight Variable: 108) WT
The weighting variable was applied only to adults, ages 18 to 22, in the national cross-sectional sample. For the supplemental youth (ages 15 to 17) and the "elite" samples, no weighting was used. In order to separate the three samples, the variable SAMPLE has been added to the file, with the category "1" being the national sample, "2" the youth sample (ages 15-17) and "3" the sample of "elites," or the key leadership groups.
Data Collection
Date Collected: December 1-15, 1987
Funded By
The Williamsburg Charter Foundation
Collection Procedures
Nationwide telephone surveys were conducted by the Center for Communication Dynamics in Washington, D.C. Random-digit dialing was used in order to reach telephone households not listed in directories.
Sampling Procedures
In December of 1987, "the Center for Communication Dynamics conducted a nationwide telephone canvass of a total of 3,017 Americans, including special samples of young people and of key leadership groups. A total of 1,889 adults were interviewed as part of the national cross-sectional sample of Americans 18 years of age and older. ... Additional interviews were conducted with seven leadership groups, including business executives, college professors, government leaders, newspaper editors and radio/TV news directors, Protestant ministers, Roman Catholic priests and rabbis. These leadership samples were drawn at random from the following sources. Business: listed in Who's Who in Industry and Finance. Academics: university faculty members of Ph.D.-granting departments of political science, sociology, history and English. Government leaders: sample of top 3,000 career and political appointees in federal government departments and agencies. Media: nationwide "gatekeeper" sample of radio an A supplemental national survey of high school-age young people conducted an additional 265 interviews with teenagers 15 to 17 years of age. Data from this portion of the survey are presented separately from the basic national sample of the voting-age population. The latter sample incorporates an oversample of 362 young people ages 18 to 22, weighted in proportion to their size in the adult population when included in the national cross-sectional sample.

The size of the completed sample is large enough to yield a good estimate of the population surveyed. The basic rule of thumb is +/- 2.4 percent as the confidence intervals for results based on the national cross-sectional sample of adults" (Hunter 1990:258-259).
Principal Investigators
William C. Adams and James Davison Hunter
Related Publications
Hunter, James Davison. 1990. "The Williamsburg Charter Survey: Methodology and Findings" Journal of Law and Religion 8:257-272.

The Williamsburg Charter Survey on Religion and Public Life, Washington, D.C.: The Williamsburg Charter Foundation, 1988.