Portraits of American Life Study
Hosted by The ARDA
The PALS seeks to understand the impact of religion in everyday life, and ultimately the connections between religious change and other forms of change among diverse individuals and families over the course of their lives.

Religious Leaders of One’s Congregation (2006)

The following questions were asked of persons who were involved with a religious congregation. The results show strong support and satisfaction with the religious leadership in general. We do not know about the attitudes of persons no longer affiliated with a religious congregation because of dissatisfaction. For each of the questions below we present the most interesting categories from which people could choose.

How close are you to the primary religious leader of your congregation?
 Very to Extremely close37%
 Not at all22%

There is a range of closeness to the religious leaders, from over a third feeling very close while nearly a quarter are not close at all. This is likely due to a number of reasons such as length of membership, personality, and accessibility. We have measures to allow us to examine some of these possibilities. COMMENT.

How much respect do you have for your religious leader?
  A great deal 69%

How often do you talk with the primary religious leader, other than "hello" after services?
  At least once a week 24%
  Never22%

How often have you received a personal visit or counseling from religious leaders or staff?
  Once a month or more 12%
  Never52%

Satisfaction with how money is used?
  Somewhat to Very satisfied 70%

Satisfaction with how major decisions are made:
  Somewhat to Very satisfied 72%


It is an encouraging result that 7 out of 10 congregants are satisfied with rather controversial issues, including money and making decisions. It is important to keep in mind that those who are most dissatisfied may have already left these congregations.



Give us your feedback!

Through out these sections, we invite you to enter the discussion about these findings and what their implications may be. Click on the COMMENT link to send your thoughts to pals@rice.edu. Where appropriate we will include comments for others to read and discuss. Names of contributors will not be posted, but, if you like, include your religious tradition.

Search Geographical Profiles
ARDA's Geographic Profiles allow you to view maps of the social, economic, demographic, and religious landscape of the United States, all the way down to the neighborhood level. You can even generate a summary report using a variety of options.

Enter a zip code to see a map now:
US Congregational Membership Reports
Explore congregational membership across the United States. These data are provided by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

Enter your 5-digit zip code to see a religious profile now: