Texas Is Getting More Catholic but Less Christian: Aris Survey

By Jeffrey Weiss
Dallas Morning News
March 9, 2009

ARIS stands for "American Religious Identification Survey." It's a honkin' big poll about religion in America that's been repeated three times. How big? Your average presidential election poll talks to about 1,000 people. ARIS 2008 included 54,461 respondants.

The results are pretty much in line with other big surveys about religion, notably the Pew study I reported on last year. And also here.

Bottom lines: America is getting less religious and less Christian, if not necessarily more secular. When asked to identify their religion a quarter of the ARIS respondants did not offer some variant of "Christian." Those who answered "none" have risen to 15%.

Head for the jump to see Texas stats -- which are different from the national trends in a few interesting areas.

[UPDATE: My original headline was "Texas is getting more Catholic but less Christian." Which I thought was about as inflammatory as "Texas are eating more apples but less fruit," assuming that were true. If you read the comments, you'll see that others found fault. So I've changed it. Better?]

Comparing ARIS 1990 to ARIS 2008:

Start with Catholics. Nationally, the percentage who said they were Catholic dipped a smidge -- to 25% from 26% But in Texas there was a jump: 32 percent in 2008 compared with 23 percent in 1990. Figure Hispanic immigration has a lot to do with that.

Turn to "other Christians." Nationally, the percentage of those who said they were some flavor of Christianity other than Catholic dipped to 50 percent in 2008, compared with 60 percent in 1990. The Texas decline is even greater: To 48 percent, compared with 68 percent in 1990.

And finally let's look at my favorite, the "nones." (They're my fave because these folks make even less sense than other categories when you drill down. Even a chunk of the atheists told the Pew pollsters they believed in God.) Nationally, the "nones" jumped to 15 percent from a 8.2 percent in 1990. In Texas, the "nones" jumped to 12 percent from 5 percent in 1990.

Texas stats are interesting: In the 1990 ARIS poll, 23 percent of Texans said they were Catholic. Last year, that number had jumped to 32 percent. In 1990, 68 percent of Texans said they were some kind of Christian other than Catholic. Last year, that figure had dropped to only 48 percent. The "none" answers had jumped from 5 percent in 1990 to 12 percent last year.


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