2020 US Religion Census Just Dropped


The decennial US Religion Census just dropped, so we now have fine-grained current data on percent LDS and number of congregations by county. My understanding is that the methodology for the Church’s reporting of their number changed in between waves, which affects our ability to compare the numbers between this and 2010 (I might be wrong, please correct if so), but both sets report congregations, so that might be a useful benchmark to compare relative growth or decline rates by county. I might create a chloropleth of percent LDS if I can find the time, but for now I’ll leave you with this image that shows the up-to-date boundaries of the “Mormon belt,” (gray is LDS) and a few drive-by interesting observations.

  1. It looks like there’s an LDS county or two in Alaska (although I suspect that if I were to dive into the data we would find that there’s hardly anybody there, so getting a plurality isn’t that hard).
  2. I wasn’t aware there was an LDS county in New Mexico.
  3. The Community of Christ has 616 congregations in the US.
  4. The Bickertonites have 64 congregations in the US (I couldn’t find any other restoration branches in the data).
  5. When we compare the number of congregations by county in 2010 to those in 2020; 354 (11%) show a decrease, 2,303 (73%) show the same (however, a lot of these are 0 to 0), and 495 counties show an increase (16%). However, I don’t know how this interacts with changing requirements for a congregation (counties that were “born” or “died” during that time are counted as no-change, although this is typically just a handful in ten years).

3 comments for “2020 US Religion Census Just Dropped

  1. I’m from Alaska. There are a lot more LDS than you may realize, though, yes – there are some very sparsly populate area where a large LDS family (say, six kids) would suddenly make the area majority LDS.

    History of the Church there can be found here:
    https://byustudies.byu.edu/product/melting-the-ice-a-history-of-latter-day-saints-in-alaska/

    (there’s also a book called “A Gathering of Saints in Alaska” that’s a a lot less rigorous but was the first history on the Church in Alaska published and has lots of oral histories in it)

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