Pew Research Center has announced a new group of religious classification terms for the U.S. population, in the hopes of better categorizing religious groups.
In a report released Wednesday, Pew stated that their new typology was meant to examine similar traits found in different religious groups.
“The new typology sorts Americans into seven groups based on the religious and spiritual beliefs they share, how actively they practice their faith, the value they place on their religion, and the other sources of meaning and fulfillment in their lives,” explained Pew.
The new types, from most to least religious, are: “Sunday Stalwarts,” “God-and-Country Believers,” “Diversely Devout,” “Relaxed Religious,” “Spiritually Awake,” “Religion Resisters,” and “Solidly Secular.”
These seven terms are further grouped into three other categories, with “Sunday Stalwarts,” “God-and-Country Believers,” and “Diversely Devout” being grouped as “Highly Religious;” “Relaxed Religious” and “Spiritually Awake” being grouped as “Somewhat Religious;” and “Religion Resisters” and “Solidly Secular” being grouped as “Non-Religious.”
Sunday Stalwarts are identified as being religious traditionalists who are active in their religious beliefs and their respective congregation.
God-and-Country Believers are identified as holding politically and socially conservative viewpoints, but being less active in their congregations.
Diversely Devout are identified as not only holding traditional religious beliefs, but also possibly believing in ideas like reincarnation, psychics, and overall spirituality.
Relaxed Religious are identified as holding some traditional beliefs, but also not being very active in their respective congregations and not believing that one must believe in God to be moral.
Spiritually Awake are more inclined toward nontraditional beliefs, but with strong beliefs in an afterlife and are strongly inclined toward New Age ideas.
Religion Resisters are identified as believing that organized religion is largely harmful and adhering to nontraditional religious beliefs, if any at all.
Solidly Secular are the least religious, typically rejecting all forms of spiritual belief, traditional or nontraditional, with many though not all subscribing to atheism.
Sunday Stalwarts, Relaxed Religious, and Solidly Secular were in a three-way tie for largest group, each with 17 percent.
Behind those three was Spiritually Awake at 15 percent, God-and-Country Believers and Religion Resisters each at 12 percent, and lastly, Diversely Devout at 11 percent.
The findings were largely based off a survey, conducted Dec. 4–18 of last year, of 4,729 Americans with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
The survey found that a majority of Sunday Stalwarts are white (63 percent), female (57 percent), aged 50 and above (60 percent), and are either Republican or lean Republican (59 percent).
On the opposite end, a majority of Solidly Secular respondents are white (79 percent), male (65 percent), aged 18–49 (67 percent), and are either Democrat or lean Democrat (71 percent).
Among Christians in the U.S., evangelicals have the largest percentage of members who are classified as “Sunday Stalwarts” (36 percent). In second place were historically African-American Protestant churches (31 percent), then mainline Protestants (20 percent) and lastly Roman Catholics (20 percent).
In 2012, Pew garnered many headlines and generated much discussion when they noted a rise in the population of Americans who were religiously unaffiliated, dubbing them the “nones.”
“In the last five years alone,” explained Pew in an October 2012 piece, “the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults.”
“Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent).”