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The Cooperative Clergy Study Project of 2017




Smidt, C. E. (2020, August 13). The Cooperative Clergy Study Project of 2017.


The Cooperative Clergy Study Project of 2017 was a cooperative research endeavor, organized by the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College, that focused on the social characteristics, theological beliefs, civic endeavors, and political attitudes and behavior of American clergy. The project was a cooperative endeavor, with different participants examining clergy from a specific denomination, generally a denomination of which they were either a part of or with which they were very familiar. The group utilized a common questionnaire, which largely replicated the questionnaire used in the Cooperative Clergy Study Project of 2001 and 2009 (the data for which are also housed at ARDA). Participants funded the data collection and data entry costs related to their particular denomination they surveyed, with the data from each denomination or faith tradition then being pooled together to create a combined data file. In the end, 2,502 clergy from the following denominations were surveyed: the Assemblies of God (AOG); the Christian Reformed Church in North American (CRC); the Disciples of Christ (DOC); the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS); the Mennonite Church, USA; the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (PCUSA); the Reformed Church in America (RCA); the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); and, the United Methodist Church (UMC). Those participating in the project mailed the questionnaire to a random sample of clergy from the denomination they chose to study. The sample size varied from denomination to denomination, with larger denominations generally having larger sample sizes. The response rate varied by denomination, with smaller denominations generally having higher response rates. Details related to those researching each denomination are presented below.

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Data File

Cases: 2502
Variables: 201
Weight Variable: None

Data Collection


Original Survey (Instrument)

Clergy & Public Affairs Survey

Funded By

The Henry Institute at Calvin College

Collection Procedures

Mailed surveys were returned to the particular investigators of each denomination or faith tradition. An online option was made available to those who preferred to answer the survey directly on their computer.

Sampling Procedures

The study sought to survey "preaching" clergy who served congregations within the denomination, with the sample typically drawn from a listing of ordained or licensed clergy within that denomination. Sampling procedures sought to skip those clergy listed who engaged in other types of endeavors (e.g., chaplains, youth ministers, denominational administrators, etc.).

Principal Investigators

Corwin E. Smidt, Calvin College

Related Publications

Corwin E. Smidt, Pastors and Public Life: The Changing Face of American Protestant Clergy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Jeff Walz and Stephen Montreal. 2016. "The Political Attitudes and Activities of Missouri Synod Lutheran (LCMS) Clergy in 2001 and 2009: A Research Note." Review of Religious Research 58 (March): 149-164.

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