Friday, July 20, 2012

Unitarian Universalism: Beyond Congregations, Growing, Diversifying!

In 1990, 2001, and  2008, researchers funded by the Lily Foundation randomly dialed  up about fifty thousand  Americans and asked them,  “What is your religion, if any?  Then, they asked follow-up questions.  In 2008, 192 of those fifty thousand identified as Unitarian Universalists, up from 182 in 2001.  The following is an extrapolation and analysis of this data.  The whole report can be found  here  This study gives us some interesting information about ourselves and comparison to other religious bodies.

The single most interesting, but not surprising fact is that this study suggests that there are more than a half a million adult UU’s in this nation.  Fewer than half of these self-identified UU’s are legal members of UU churches, but they think of themselves as UU’s.  Furthermore, this group is growing robustly…as a matter of fact,  nearly keeping up with population growth.  (the group of self-identified UU’s grew by 26% between 1990 and 2008, compared with 30% population growth)

            Here’s a happy surprise:  The UUA has done a little better than the nation as a whole in increasing ethnic diversity.   In 1990, non-Hispanic Whites were 90% of the  UUA. (compared to 77% in the US as a whole)  These days, non-Hispanic whites are 75% of the UUA. (compared to 66% overall)    We are still lagging behind our nation, but not by as much.   Our success at this is largely due to an increase in Hispanic UU’s, however, while most of our diversity "angst" over the years has been the small number of African American UU's.   

 11% of the US population is Black,  but only 6% of this sample of people who claim to be Unitarian Universalists is Black.  However, even on this point we have notable success.  In 1990, we lagged 8 points behind the nation in percentage of Black members.  These days, we lag only 5 percentage points behind.

This study has more interesting things to say about us.  Stay tuned to this Blog for more! 


UU_Observer said...

It's heartening to know that there are so many people identifying as UUs. I thought I read a survey several years ago that quoted 600,000 self-identified UUs. I'm not sure about the size of the survey, however. The 50,000 surveyed by Lily is a good number.

By the way, the difference between 182 (2001 survey) and 192 (2008 survey) is only 0.5 sigma, which is statistically insignificant. :-)

UU_Observer said...

Didn't realize that my name wouldn't show up. I forgot that I even created an identity. This is Paul Avery. :-)

Bill Baar said...

I'd like to know how many of those self-identified UUs are UUs who stopped attending Church (and pledging) and just claim the name. All of the ones I know, are exactly that.... hardly fertile ground for growth.