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Christian groups in America are often placed into four main traditions: Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant, Historically Black Protestant and Roman Catholic. There is wide variation within each of these four traditions. The most difficult to classify are evangelical and mainline Protestants, with evangelical groups being more theologically and socially conservative than mainline groups. Several sources were used for categorizing the many Christian groups into religious traditions, beginning with an article by Brian Steensland and colleagues entitled "The Measure of American Religion: Toward Improving the State of the Art" published in Social Forces (2000, 79: 291-318). This article places most denominations into one of those traditions. For Christian denominations not included in Steensland and colleagues' scheme, two additional sources were consulted: J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions (8th edition) and Frank S. Mead and Samuel S. Hill's Handbook of Denominations in the United States (10th edition). In addition to those in Steensland and colleagues' classification scheme, separate categories were created for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Orthodox Christians, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah's Witnesses, and other groups. Using these sources the staff at the Association of Religion Data Archives (theARDA.com) placed each group into a Religious Tradition.

A list of U.S. Religious Traditions (Click on a link to jump to relevant section):

  • Evangelical Protestant
  • Mainline Protestant
  • Historically Black Protestant
  • Roman Catholic
  • Jewish
  • Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
  • Islamic
  • Hindu
  • Buddhist
  • Orthodox Christian
  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Other

  • The 233 religious groups and their category placement are given below. For more information on each of the denominations, go to the ARDAs Denominational Profiles.


    Denomination Source Reported By InfoGroupReligious Tradition
    Advent Christian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Adventists - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Church of God General ConferenceEvangelical Protestant
    Seventh Day AdventistsEvangelical Protestant
    Seventh Day Church of GodEvangelical Protestant
    American Baptist AssociationEvangelical Protestant
    American Baptist Churches/USAMainline Protestant
    Baptist General ConferenceEvangelical Protestant
    Baptist - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Baptist Bible FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    Baptist Missionary Association of AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Cooperative Baptist FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    Independent Baptist ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Conservative Baptist AssociationEvangelical Protestant
    Free Will BaptistsEvangelical Protestant
    General Assoc. of Regular BaptistsEvangelical Protestant
    Assoc. of General BaptistsEvangelical Protestant
    General Association of Separatist BaptistsEvangelical Protestant
    National Baptist Convention of AmericaHistorically Black Protestant
    National Baptist Convention-USAHistorically Black Protestant
    North American Baptist ConferenceEvangelical Protestant
    Primitive BaptistsEvangelical Protestant
    Progressive National Baptist ConventionHistorically Black Protestant
    Seventh Day Baptist Gen. ConferenceEvangelical Protestant
    Southern Baptist ConventionEvangelical Protestant
    Southwide Baptist FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    United BaptistEvangelical Protestant
    World Baptist FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    African Methodist Episcopal ChurchHistorically Black Protestant
    African Methodist Episcopal ZionHistorically Black Protestant
    African Union Methodist ProtestantHistorically Black Protestant
    Christian Methodist Episcopal ChurchHistorically Black Protestant
    Congregational Methodist ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Evangelical Congregational ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Evangelical Methodist ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Independent Methodist ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Methodist - OtherMainline Protestant
    Primitive Methodist ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Reformed Zion Union ApostolicHistorically Black Protestant
    Southern Methodist ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    United Methodist ChurchMainline Protestant
    American Association of Lutheran ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Apostolic Lutheran Church of AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Association of Free Lutheran CongregationsEvangelical Protestant
    Church of Lutheran ConfessionEvangelical Protestant
    Church of the Lutheran BrethrenEvangelical Protestant
    Evangelical Lutheran SynodEvangelical Protestant
    Latvian Evangelical Lutheran ChurchMainline Protestant
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaMainline Protestant
    Lutheran - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Lutheran Church - Missouri SynodEvangelical Protestant
    Wisconsin Evangelical LutheranEvangelical Protestant
    Association Reformed Presbyterian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Bible Presbyterian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Christian Reformed ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Churches of God (Findlay, OH)Evangelical Protestant
    Congregational Christian ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Conservative Congregation Christian ConferenceEvangelical Protestant
    Cumberland Presbyterian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Evangelical Presbyterian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Free Reformed Churches of North AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Free Presbyterian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Orthodox Presbyterian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Presbyterian Church in AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Presbyterian/Reformed - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Presbyterian Church (USA)Mainline Protestant
    Protestant Reformed ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Reformed Church in AmericaMainline Protestant
    Reformed Presbyterian Church of North AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Reformed Church in the USAEvangelical Protestant
    Cumberland Presbyterian Ch in AmericaHistorically Black Protestant
    United Church of ChristMainline Protestant
    United Reformed Churches in North AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Maranatha Christian ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Apostolic Church of PentecostEvangelical Protestant
    Apostolic Churches - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Apostolic Faith ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Apostolic Overcoming Holy ChurchHistorically Black Protestant
    Assemblies of GodEvangelical Protestant
    Bible Way Church of Lord Jesus ChristHistorically Black Protestant
    Calvary ChapelEvangelical Protestant
    Christian Church of North AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Church of God (Cleveland, TN)Evangelical Protestant
    Church of God of ProphecyEvangelical Protestant
    Church of God - Mountain AssemblyEvangelical Protestant
    Church of God - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Church of God By FaithHistorically Black Protestant
    Church of God in ChristHistorically Black Protestant
    Congregational Holiness Church, Inc.Evangelical Protestant
    Church of the Living GodHistorically Black Protestant
    Church of the Lord Jesus ChristHistorically Black Protestant
    Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of Apostolic FaithHistorically Black Protestant
    Deliverance ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Church On the RockEvangelical Protestant
    Seventh Day PentecostalHistorically Black Protestant
    Word ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Elim FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    Faith Christian FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    Fire-Baptized Holiness ChurchHistorically Black Protestant
    First Church of Jesus ChristHistorically Black Protestant
    Full Gospel FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    Hall Deliverance FoundationEvangelical Protestant
    International Foursquare GospelEvangelical Protestant
    International Pentecostal Church of ChristEvangelical Protestant
    Association of Vineyard ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Liberty Fellowship of ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Open Bible Standard ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Church of God (Original)Evangelical Protestant
    Pentecostal Assemblies of the WorldHistorically Black Protestant
    Pentecostal Church of GodEvangelical Protestant
    Pentecostal Free Will Baptist ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    International Pentecostal Holiness ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Pentecostal - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    United House of PrayerHistorically Black Protestant
    United Christian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    United Pentecostal ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Victory Churches InternationalEvangelical Protestant
    Liberal Catholic ChurchesOther
    Polish National Catholic ChurchOther
    Roman Catholic ChurchRoman Catholic
    Convents/Rectories/MonasteriesRoman Catholic
    Brethren - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Fellowship of Grace BrethrenEvangelical Protestant
    Church of the BrethrenEvangelical Protestant
    Old German Baptist Brethren ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    United Brethren in ChristEvangelical Protestant
    Berean Fundamental ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Church of the Open DoorEvangelical Protestant
    Independent Bible ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Fundamental Bible ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Grace Gospel FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    Independent Fundamental ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Plymouth BrethrenEvangelical Protestant
    Anglican - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Anglican Episcopal of North AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Charismatic Episcopal ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Episcopal ChurchMainline Protestant
    Anglican Orthodox ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Reformed Episcopal ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)Mainline Protestant
    Christian & Churches of ChristEvangelical Protestant
    Christian - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental)Evangelical Protestant
    Church of God in Christ, MennoniteEvangelical Protestant
    Conservative Mennonite FellowshipEvangelical Protestant
    Amish (Mennonite)Evangelical Protestant
    Evangelical Mennonite Mission ConferenceEvangelical Protestant
    Brethren in ChristEvangelical Protestant
    Mennonite Church USAEvangelical Protestant
    Mennonite Brethren ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Church of Jesus Christ - Latter-day SaintsLatter-day Saint (Mormon)
    Community of Christ (RLDS)Other
    Allegheny Wesleyan MethodistEvangelical Protestant
    American Rescue WorkersEvangelical Protestant
    Apostolic Christian (Nazarean) Evangelical Protestant
    Bible Methodist ConnectionEvangelical Protestant
    Christian & Missionary AllianceEvangelical Protestant
    Ch. of Christ in Christian UnionEvangelical Protestant
    Church of God (Anderson, IN)Evangelical Protestant
    Churches of God (Independent Holiness)Evangelical Protestant
    Church of God (Holiness) Evangelical Protestant
    Pillar of FireEvangelical Protestant
    Evangelical Christian ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Evangelical Church of North AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Free Methodist Church of North AmericaEvangelical Protestant
    Grace and Hope MissionEvangelical Protestant
    Holiness - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Missionary ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Mount Calvary Holy Church of AmericaHistorically Black Protestant
    National Association of Holiness ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Church of the NazareneEvangelical Protestant
    Rescue MissionEvangelical Protestant
    Salvation ArmyEvangelical Protestant
    Triumph the Church/Kingdom of GodHistorically Black Protestant
    Wesleyan ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Christian Science ChurchesOther
    Swedenborgian ChurchesOther
    Metaphysical - OtherOther
    National Spiritualist AssociationOther
    Spiritual Science ChurchesOther
    Spiritualist Churches/OrganizationsOther
    United Church of Religious ScienceOther
    Unity School of ChristianityOther
    Church of ScientologyOther
    Albanian Orthodox Diocese of AmericaOrthodox Christian
    American Carpatho-Russian OrthodoxOrthodox Christian
    Antiochian Orthodox ChristianOrthodox Christian
    Armenian Apostolic ChurchOrthodox Christian
    Armenian Church of AmericaOrthodox Christian
    Byelorussian OrthodoxOrthodox Christian
    Greek Orthodox ChurchOrthodox Christian
    Eastern Orthodox - OtherOrthodox Christian
    Orthodox Church in AmericaOrthodox Christian
    Romanian Orthodox EpiscopateOrthodox Christian
    Russian Orthodox ChurchOrthodox Christian
    Serbian Eastern Orthodox ChurchOrthodox Christian
    Ukranian Orthodox ChurchOrthodox Christian
    Jewish - OtherJewish
    Orthodox Jewish CongregationsJewish
    Reconstructionist Jewish CongregationsJewish
    Reform Jewish CongregationsJewish
    Conservative Jewish CongregationsJewish
    ChristadelphiansEvangelical Protestant
    International Council Community ChurchesMainline Protestant
    Evangelical Covenant ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Evangelical Free ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Evangelical - OtherEvangelical Protestant
    Federated ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    Friends (Quakers)Mainline Protestant
    Military ChapelsOther
    Metropolitan Community ChurchesMainline Protestant
    Moravian Church in AmericaMainline Protestant
    Neighborhood ChurchesOther
    Non-Denominational ChurchesOther
    Union of Messianic Jewish CongregationsOther
    Schwenkfelder ChurchEvangelical Protestant
    United/Union ChurchesEvangelical Protestant
    Worldwide Church of GodEvangelical Protestant
    Non Classified AffiliationOther
    Baha'i FaithOther
    Buddhist Temples, ZenBuddhist
    EckankarOther
    Hindu TemplesHindu
    Jehovah's WitnessesJehovah's Witnesses
    KrishnaOther
    Miscellaneous Cults and SectsOther
    Muslim/Mohammed/IslamIslamic
    Nichiren Shoshu TempleOther
    Sikh SocietyOther
    Miscellaneous Eastern ReligionsOther
    Tenrikyo ChurchesOther
    Unification ChurchOther
    Unitarian Universalist AssociationOther
    Yoga InstitutesOther


    Evangelical Protestants   [Back to Top]

    Evangelical Protestant denominations and churches emphasize conversion and evangelism, hold biblical authority in high regard, and tend to seek more separation from the broader culture. Evangelical Protestantism is usually seen as more theologically and socially conservative than mainline Protestantism, although there is obviously variation among evangelical denominations, congregations, and individuals.

    • Adventists - Other
    • Church of God General Conference
    • Seventh Day Adventists
    • Seventh Day Church of God
    • American Baptist Association
    • Baptist General Conference
    • Baptist - Other
    • Baptist Bible Fellowship
    • Baptist Missionary Association of America
    • Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
    • Independent Baptist Churches
    • Conservative Baptist Association
    • Free Will Baptists
    • General Assoc. of Regular Baptists
    • Assoc. of General Baptists
    • General Association of Separatist Baptists
    • North American Baptist Conference
    • Primitive Baptists
    • Seventh Day Baptist Gen. Conference
    • Southern Baptist Convention
    • Southwide Baptist Fellowship
    • United Baptist
    • World Baptist Fellowship
    • Congregational Methodist Church
    • Evangelical Congregational Church
    • Evangelical Methodist Church
    • Independent Methodist Churches
    • Primitive Methodist Church
    • Southern Methodist Church
    • American Association of Lutheran Church
    • Apostolic Lutheran Church of America
    • Association of Free Lutheran Congregations
    • Church of Lutheran Confession
    • Church of the Lutheran Brethren
    • Evangelical Lutheran Synod
    • Lutheran - Other
    • Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
    • Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran
    • Association Reformed Presbyterian Church
    • Bible Presbyterian Church
    • Christian Reformed Church
    • Churches of God (Findlay, OH)
    • Congregational Christian Churches
    • Conservative Congregation Christian Conference
    • Cumberland Presbyterian Church
    • Evangelical Presbyterian Church
    • Free Reformed Churches of North America
    • Free Presbyterian Church
    • Orthodox Presbyterian Church
    • Presbyterian Church in America
    • Presbyterian/Reformed - Other
    • Protestant Reformed Churches
    • Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
    • Reformed Church in the USA
    • United Reformed Churches in North America
    • Maranatha Christian Churches
    • Apostolic Church of Pentecost
    • Apostolic Churches - Other
    • Apostolic Faith Church
    • Assemblies of God
    • Calvary Chapel
    • Christian Church of North America
    • Church of God (Cleveland, TN)
    • Church of God of Prophecy
    • Church of God - Mountain Assembly
    • Church of God - Other
    • Congregational Holiness Church, Inc.
    • Deliverance Churches
    • Church On the Rock
    • Word Churches
    • Elim Fellowship
    • Faith Christian Fellowship
    • Full Gospel Fellowship
    • Hall Deliverance Foundation
    • International Foursquare Gospel
    • International Pentecostal Church of Christ
    • Association of Vineyard Churches
    • Liberty Fellowship of Churches
    • Open Bible Standard Churches
    • Church of God (Original)
    • Pentecostal Church of God
    • Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church
    • International Pentecostal Holiness Church
    • Pentecostal - Other
    • United Christian Church
    • United Pentecostal Church
    • Victory Churches International
    • Brethren - Other
    • Fellowship of Grace Brethren
    • Church of the Brethren
    • Old German Baptist Brethren Church
    • United Brethren in Christ
    • Berean Fundamental Churches
    • Church of the Open Door
    • Independent Bible Churches
    • Fundamental Bible Churches
    • Grace Gospel Fellowship
    • Independent Fundamental Churches
    • Plymouth Brethren
    • Anglican - Other
    • Anglican Episcopal of North America
    • Charismatic Episcopal Church
    • Anglican Orthodox Church
    • Reformed Episcopal Church
    • Christian & Churches of Christ
    • Christian - Other
    • Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental)
    • Church of God in Christ, Mennonite
    • Conservative Mennonite Fellowship
    • Amish (Mennonite)
    • Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference
    • Brethren in Christ
    • Mennonite Brethren Church
    • Mennonite Brethren Church
    • Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist
    • American Rescue Workers
    • Apostolic Christian (Nazarean)
    • Bible Methodist Connection
    • Christian & Missionary Alliance
    • Ch. of Christ in Christian Union
    • Churches of God (Independent Holiness)
    • Church of God (Holiness)
    • Pillar of Fire
    • Evangelical Christian Church
    • Evangelical Church of North America
    • Free Methodist Church of North America
    • Grace and Hope Mission
    • Holiness - Other
    • Missionary Church
    • National Association of Holiness Churches
    • Church of the Nazarene
    • Rescue Mission
    • Salvation Army
    • Wesleyan Church
    • Christadelphians
    • Evangelical Covenant Church
    • Evangelical Free Church
    • Evangelical - Other
    • Federated Church
    • Schwenkfelder Church
    • United/Union Churches
    • Worldwide Church of God

    Mainline Protestants   [Back to Top]

    Mainline denominations typically emphasize a proactive view on issues of social and economic justice and a tolerance of varied individual beliefs. While mainline Protestantism is usually seen as more theologically and socially liberal than evangelical Protestantism, there is obviously variation among mainline denominations, congregations, and individuals.

    • American Baptist Churches/USA
    • Methodist - Other
    • United Methodist Church
    • Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    • Presbyterian Church (USA)
    • Reformed Church in America
    • United Church of Christ
    • Episcopal Church
    • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    • International Council Community Churches
    • Friends (Quakers)
    • Metropolitan Community Churches
    • Moravian Church in America

    Historically Black Protestant   [Back to Top]

    Historically black Protestant churches are those that minister to predominantly African American congregations in the United States. The first black churches were founded by free blacks in the 18th century. Historically black churches have long been the centers of communities, serving numerous important functions.

    • National Baptist Convention of America
    • National Baptist Convention-USA
    • Progressive National Baptist Convention
    • African Methodist Episcopal Church
    • African Methodist Episcopal Zion
    • African Union Methodist Protestant
    • Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
    • Reformed Zion Union Apostolic
    • Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America
    • Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church
    • Bible Way Church of Lord Jesus Christ
    • Church of God By Faith
    • Church of God in Christ
    • Church of the Living God
    • Church of the Lord Jesus Christ
    • Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of Apostolic Faith
    • Seventh Day Pentecostal
    • Fire-Baptized Holiness Church
    • First Church of Jesus Christ
    • Pentecostal Assemblies of the World
    • United House of Prayer
    • Mount Calvary Holy Church of America
    • Triumph the Church/Kingdom of God

    Roman Catholics   [Back to Top]

    • Roman Catholic Church
    • Convents/Rectories/Monasteries

    Jewish   [Back to Top]

    A monotheistic religion based on the Torah, Talmud and other texts that are part of the Old Testament. There are several Jewish denominations, including Orthodox and Reform Judaism.

    • Jewish - Other
    • Orthodox Jewish
    • Reconstructionist Jewish
    • Reform Jewish
    • Conservative Jewish

    Latter-day Saints (Mormon)   [Back to Top]

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (colloquially referred to as the Mormon Church) is a restorationist Christian church and the largest denomination originating from the Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in upstate New York in 1830. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah and has established congregations (called wards or branches) worldwide.

    Islamic

    Islam:   [Back to Top] The religion founded by Mohammad, who is believed by followers to be the final prophet. Muslims follow the sacred text of the Koran and stress the oneness of God.

    Hindu   [Back to Top]

    Hinduism: The name given for the majority religion of India. There is no central authority in Hinduism, although most Hindu groups and traditions believe in reincarnation and venerate gods and goddesses who are viewed as manifestations of God.

    Buddhist   [Back to Top]

    Buddhism: A world religion founded by Gautama, the Buddha in the fifth or fourth century (B.C.) in India. Teaching reincarnation and freedom from worldly attachments, Buddhism has three major branches: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.

    Orthodox Christian   [Back to Top]

    One of the three great divisions of Christianity; the others are the Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic and Orthodox churches were originally united, but they parted in the eleventh century, when they differed over several points of doctrine, including the supreme authority of the pope, which Orthodox Christians reject.

    • Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America
    • American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox
    • Antiochian Orthodox Christian
    • Armenian Apostolic Church
    • Armenian Church of America
    • Byelorussian Orthodox
    • Greek Orthodox Church
    • Eastern Orthodox - Other
    • Orthodox Church in America
    • Russian Orthodox Church
    • Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church
    • Ukranian Orthodox Church

    Jehovah's Witnesses   [Back to Top]

    The Jehovah's Witnesses emerged out of the Bible Student movement begun by Charles Taze Russell, who founded the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in the 1880s. The organization took its present name in 1931.

    Other   [Back to Top]

    • Liberal Catholic Churches
    • Polish National Catholic Church
    • Community of Christ (RLDS)
    • Christian Science Churches
    • Swedenborgian Churches
    • Metaphysical - Other
    • National Spiritualist Association
    • Spiritual Science Churches
    • Spiritualist Churches/Organizations
    • United Church of Religious Science
    • Unity School of Christianity
    • Church of Scientology
    • Military Chapels
    • Neighborhood Churches
    • Non-Denominational Churches
    • Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations
    • Non Classified Affiliation
    • Baha'i Faith
    • Eckankar
    • Krishna
    • Miscellaneous Cults and Sects
    • Nichiren Shoshu Temple
    • Sikh Society
    • Miscellaneous Eastern Religions
    • Tenrikyo Churches
    • Unification Church
    • Unitarian Universalist Association
    • Yoga Institutes