Who are you and who funds this?
Do you have any data on the number of members of a particular denomination in a particular state or county?
Are you the ones who collected all of this data?
Why do you have data on some religious groups but not others?
In your "Maps & Reports", is an "adherent" the same thing as a "member"?
Do you have a list of members for {insert church name} in {insert city\state}? For example, do you have lists of names & addresses of active members of all Assembly of God churches in the Atlanta area?
Why do some of the datasets have the option of being downloaded in Microsoft Excel format and others do not?
How does the ARDA classify religious groups into categories such as "mainline" or "evangelical"? How should I classify groups that are not included in the ARDA's data?
What if I am not familiar with statistics?
What if I need more information than the online analysis gives me?
How do I cite the ARDA if I use the data for a publication (newspaper article, journal article, research/term paper, book, etc.)?
How do I submit data to the ARDA?
Will the ARDA staff help me with my research?
How do I manage my email newsletter subscription?
How do I contact the ARDA staff?

Who are you and who funds this?

The ARDA is based in the Department of Sociology at The Pennsylvania State University. Our goal is to preserve and provide access to high-quality data on religion in the United States and abroad. We are funded by the Lilly Endowment and the John Templeton Foundation.

back to top

Do you have any data on the number of members of a particular denomination in a particular state or county?

The United States Census has not collected information on religion since 1936. The closest thing to a "religious census" is The Church and Church Membership Studies (after 1990 this has been called the Religious Congregations and Membership Study or RCMS). These studies are done about every 10 years and they report the number of churches, number of members, and number of adherents per participating denomination at both the state and county level. The ARDA features this data in our "Maps & Reports". We also have most of the data available for download in the data archive.

back to top

Are you the ones who collected all of this data?

No (with an exception). The ARDA is primarily an archive, meaning that we store the data that other researchers have collected. You can find information on exactly who collected a particular dataset in the "Details" tab after selecting a dataset to examine in the "Data Archive." The only exception to this is some of the data in the "International Data" section of the site where ARDA staff have created measures of religious freedom and regulation based on the U.S. State Department's Religious Freedom Reports. For more information on this, see Grim and Finke 2006 in the Interdisciplinary Journal for Research on Religion.

back to top

Why do you have data on some religious groups but not others?

This is due to a combination of factors. First, the ARDA relies on donations of data from researchers. For various reasons some data cannot be donated to the ARDA even though it would make a valuable addition to the archive. Second, some groups are only now beginning to gain attention from researchers that are interested in gathering quantitative data. Third, some groups are difficult to gather quantitative data on even if a researcher is interested in them due to various reasons (e.g. the group's structure is not very organized, the group does not keep records that would be useful to researchers, etc.).

If you know of data that should be added to our archive, please send us the name of the dataset and any contact information you might have.

back to top

In your "Maps & Reports," is an "adherent" the same thing as a "member"?

Religious groups vary in their standards for declaring people "members." Some churches count infants as church members. Others reserve membership for those who have given a testimony of faith, completed designated training, and/or attained a specific age. To get a standardized rate across denominations, adherents are used. Using adherents instead of members adjusts for groups that do not give full membership status to children. The file description page of the Church and Church Membership datasets contains information about how adherents were calculated for groups that only kept records of full members.

back to top

Do you have a list of members for {insert church name} in {insert city\state}? For example, do you have lists of names & addresses of active members of all Assembly of God churches in the Atlanta area?

We do not have this sort of information. Most of our data are from surveys where names and addresses are deleted to preserve confidentiality.

back to top

Why do some of the datasets have the option of being downloaded in Microsoft Excel format and others do not?

Excel cannot handle datasets that contain more than 250 variables and thus, Excel formatted files for larger datasets are not created.

back to top

How does the ARDA classify religious groups into categories such as "mainline" or "evangelical"? How should I classify groups that are not included in the ARDA's data?

Classifying denominations can certainly be tricky. We relied on several sources. We began with an article co-authored by Brian Steensland, Jerry Park, Mark Regnerus, Lynn Robinson, Bradford Wilcox, and Robert Woodberry entitled "The Measure of American Religion: Toward Improving the State of the Art," and published in Social Forces (2000, 79: 291-318). They justified the major categories we used and classified many of the groups in the RCMS collection. When denominations were not included in their classification, we classified the groups based on information given in J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions (6th edition) and Frank S. Mead and Samuel S. Hill's Handbook of Denominations in the United States (10th edition).

back to top

What if I am not familiar with statistics?

In order for our site to be helpful, we have created an online analysis feature. Click on the "Analyze" tab after selecting a dataset in the "Data Archive" section of the website. Then select a variable you are interested in examining. This will automatically create a series of tables and graphs for you based on that variable.

back to top

What if I need more information than the online analysis gives me?

You can download all files in the "Data Archive" in SPSS, MicroCase, Excel, or ASCII format. If you don't have any of these software packages, the ARDA has a statistical software package, ExplorIt, available for download. The software is based on MicroCase Corporation's ExplorIt software and allows users to download MicroCase data files (*.MC4) from the ARDA and open them in the software. Univariate statistics and cross-tabulation statistics can be run on any questions/variables (not limited to the pre-selected demographic variables included with the online autoanalyzer) using the ExplorIt software. The software is easy to understand and use. (Software that can be downloaded from this site is Copyright İMicroCase Corporation, and may not be redistributed or reproduced in any form without express written permission of the publisher.)

To download this software, select any dataset in the "Data Archive." Then, click on the "Download" tab and click "Continue" on the next screen. The Explorit software will be one of the download options you will see.

back to top

How do I cite the ARDA if I use the data for a publication (newspaper article, journal article, research/term paper, book, etc.)?

When using ARDA data in publications and presentations, the author should acknowledge the Association of Religion Data Archives and the original collector(s) of the data (e.g., The data were downloaded from the Association of Religion Data Archives, www.TheARDA.com, and were collected by [name of principal investigator(s)]).

back to top

How do I submit data to the ARDA?

If you know of a data collection that should be included in the Association of Religion Data Archives, please contact us using the addresses or phone number given below. If you would like to submit a data collection, please complete the Submission Form and send the data file, appropriate support material, and a completed submission form (including the authorization form) to our office. Click here for a copy of the submission form in Microsoft Word format.

back to top

Will the ARDA staff help me with my research?

Our staff may be able to direct you to appropriate files, but they will not perform statistical analysis or supply answers to questions other than brief descriptions of the files.

back to top

How do I manage my email newsletter subscription?

Please visit our Subscribe page to sign up, unsubscribe, or change which newsletter you receive.

back to top

How do I contact the ARDA staff?

The ARDA is located at the Department of Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University. Write to us at:

The Association of Religion Data Archives
Department of Sociology
The Pennsylvania State University
211 Oswald Tower
University Park, PA 16802-6207

E-mail: support@thearda.com
Phone: 814-865-6258
Fax: 814-863-7216

back to top