The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) have recently teamed up for a foray into “digital religion,” in the form of an ambitious mapping project called the “American Values Atlas” (AVA). The PRRI and SSRS conducted 50,000 telephone interviews in 2013, and built their results into an interactive map that they promise will “deliver an unprecedented level of detail about the United States’ cultural and religious landscape.”
The map is designed to show the connections between three “topics”—religious affiliation, demographics, and politics. Users can compare:
Religious affiliation, by religious tradition or Christian denominations
Demographic information, by traits such as race and ethnicity, age, gender, marital status, educational attainment, household income, and health insurance status,
Political information, by party identification, political ideology, and voter registration status
Searching by the religious tradition category (under the topic religious affiliation) in Ohio, for example, reveals that while the largest single religious group is “White evangelical Protestant” (21%), an equal percentage of respondents described themselves as religiously “unaffiliated.”
The AVA also offers a “Highlights” section, with summaries of particularly interesting or noteworthy survey findings. We learn, for example, that a full third of American Muslims live in the South:
Thirty-four percent of American Muslims reside in the South, mostly in just two cities: Atlanta (4 percent) and Washington, DC (6 percent). In contrast, fewer than 1-in-5 Muslims live in the Midwest (17 percent) and the West (18 percent). Nearly one-third (32 percent) of Muslims live in the Northeast, predominantly in New York City (23 percent).
We also learn that marriage rates vary widely among religious groups:
If you’re single, you may want to try visiting your local Buddhist center; more than half (54 percent) of Buddhists are single. This may be because Buddhists are, on average, much younger than other Americans. At the other end of the spectrum are Mormons. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Mormons are currently married, 16 points higher than the national average (48 percent).
The AVA is particularly noteworthy for its wealth of data on minority religious groups in the United States—Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, for example—which the team contends are often excluded from broad narratives about religious change in America. In addition, data collection for the project is ongoing: PRRI and SSRS expect to conduct 50,000 new interviews each year, in order to provide an up-to-date portrait of changing American values.