Confused by (dis)organized religion? Use this interactive tool to see how faiths fit together

There are thousands of traditions, denominations and associations in American religion. How can anyone make sense of it all? This data visualization tool shows how many social scientists see American religions. It's interactive so that you can explore which groups are in religious traditions.

How it works

The graph starts by grouping faiths into just three large groups: Christian, Not Christian, and No Religion. But you can see that each group is a mosaic made up of sub-groups. Under Christian, for example, are traditions including Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, historically black denominations, and other smaller traditions (at least smaller in size in the U.S.).  Many of the sub-groups are also made up of smaller groups. Jews are under non-Christian religions. But then Judaism is divided into streams including Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. The graph allows you to look at which groups fall within traditions and sub-traditions.

You can explore by zooming in and out to different levels, from broad categories to specific denominations and back again.

  • Click on a group to see its composition (hint: if it doesn't work, move your cursor so it's not on the name of the group).
  • You can then click on one of those groups to see if there are smaller groups.
  • To return to a larger level, right-click the chart.

SEE Microcosm of American religion in one small town map

The area of the group's shape shows its size relative to others shown. Each group is colored according to its relative size to all other groups. You can see how small the group is by seeing the arrow at the upper-right hand corner. I calculated the size based on Pew's Religious Landscape studies.

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  1. in the catholic realm there are several branches that are no posted. Why? There are catholic denomination in the United Staes, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. Would you like to mend this involuntary misplacing? Thank you

  2. I’m puzzled. I can see how most of the media are far enough from the subject, and lazy enough, to lump fundamentalists, primitives, Pentecostals, and a whole lot of other different and interesting sects, together as “Evangelicals,” thudd, splatt, in an undifferentiated lump.

    But why would RN allow itself to fall into this mediocre but still misleading foolishness?

    And “no religion,” that asinine invention of the polling trade? What is it doing in here? Atheists, agnostics, Devil worshippers, and a number of other groups all have religions. For a writer to call them “nones” is simply to advertise his or her own ignorance, laziness, stupidity, or whatever combination they operate under that they prefer to leave obvious but muddy.


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