From the pulpits to the op-ed pages, several messages about religion in the U.S. are heard again and again: It's said that Americans are flocking to churches and other religious institutions in greater numbers than ever before. That non-Christian faiths are growing rapidly. And that a new religious fervor among the young is filling up the pews.All of these frequently heard messages are incorrect, according to an important new book, Religion in a Free Market, Religious and Non-Religious Americans: Who, What, Why, and Where. The book, by professors Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., is based on a major national survey which they conducted. The U.S. Census is prohibited from asking questions about religion, so this survey, the American Religious Identification Survey, contains the most complete and reliable source of data on religion in America today.Religion in a Free Market argues that religion in America can best be understood as a product on offer in the marketplace of ideas. It says that "religious ferment in America is as strong as it has ever been, so whatever you learned about religion in the U.S. a generation ago is out of date."The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2001 queried 50,000 American adults about their religious outlook and whether they believed in God, in miracles, and in a personal relationship with God. The survey also asked about their politics and collected their demographics, including marital status, number of children, household income, and state of residence. In addition, it asked about their use of media and whether they or anyone in their household was a member of a denomination. The results of the survey were weighted to represent the entire adult population.Whether you are a reporter, a political consultant, a marketer, a religious leader, or a social scientist, this comprehensive picture of the religious and non-religious in the United States will bring you up-to-date on religion in America and help you understand the important changes that are taking place.
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