Throughout its history, the United States has characteristically remained a country of two things: a country of immigrants, and a country of unmatched religious diversity. And yet when compared with the rest of the world – where these two very factors alone have so often engendered horrible religious wars and decades of enduring conflict – the history of religious conflict in the United States seems almost nonexistent.
Here are some pie charts showing the religions practiced in the United States and the Netherlands. As you can see, a lot of the population in the Netherlands is not religious. In the United States most people are Christian. There are many Roman Catholics in the United States as well as the Netherlands. There are Muslims in both countries, albeit very little. There is a slightly larger diversity of religions in the United States than there is in the Netherlands.
The remainder of this report explores in greater depth many of the key findings summarized in this Overview. Chapter 1 offers a detailed look at the religious composition of the United States and how it has changed in recent years. Chapter 2 examines patterns in religious switching and intermarriage. Chapter 3 provides a demographic profile of the major religious traditions in the United States. Chapter 4 then flips the lens, looking at the religious profile of Americans in various demographic groups. Appendix A describes the methodology used to conduct the study. Appendix B provides details on how Protestants were categorized into one of three major Protestant traditions (the evangelical tradition, the mainline tradition and the historically black Protestant tradition) based on the specific denomination with which they identify. Appendix C compares findings from the Religious Landscape Studies with other major religion surveys and puts the current results into the context of longer-term trends.