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covers these points: (1) organizations or congregations; (2) church edifices; (3) seating capacity; (4) other places of worship, with (5) their seating capacity; (6) value of church property; (7) communicants or members. The number of ministers is also given in the totals for denominations.
Great diversity, as every ecclesiastical student knows, exists in the statistical schemes of the various denominations. Some embrace many, others few, items; some give congregations or societies, but not edifices; others edifices but not societies; some report value of church property, while others do not; most give members or communicants, while one, the chiefest of all,' gives only population. There are also as many varieties of the statistical year as there are months. Moreover, quite a number of denominations have never made any returns whatever. These considerations suggest the great difficulty of securing anything like uniformity in the returns; but uniformity was kept steadily in view, and it was attained. All denominations thus appear in the census of 1890 on the same statistical basis. For the first time the Roman Catholic Church is represented by communicants, and not by population.
The method of gathering the statistics was to make the presbytery, the classis, the association, the synod, the diocese, the conference, etc., the unit in the division of the work, and to ask the clerk or moderator or statistical secretary of each to obtain the desired information from the churches belonging to his presbytery, association, or diocese, as the case might be. This officer received full instructions how to proceed, and sufficient supplies of circulars, schedules, etc., to communicate with each church. This method proved to be quite practicable, and very sat
1 Roman Catholic.
isfactory. Several thousand agents thus gave information which they were best qualified to secure, and the results were found, when tests were applied, to be full and accurate. I may mention that, having a large force of clerks with ample supplies, a vast correspondence was conducted. For example, desiring to obtain a complete list of Lutheran congregations unattached to synods, a letter of inquiry was addressed to every Lutheran minister asking him to report any such congregations int his neighborhood. In this way, much information, otherwise unattainable, was received.
It should be understood that the census enumerators, who take the population by domiciliary visitation, are not allowed to ask individuals as to their religious connections. In the first place, they have but a brief time in which to complete their work; in the second place, their schedules are already overburdened with inquiries; and in the third place, the constitutional provision of the First Amendment, restraining Congress from making any “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” is interpreted as forbidding it. Many persons would, under this constitutional guarantee, refuse to answer questions as to their religious faith, and it is doubtful whether the courts would not uphold them in their refusal. The census authorities believed that it would add greatly to the difficulties of a successful enumeration if some questions were mandatory and some not. This is the reason we cannot have in this country what the census reports of Canada, Australia, and certain other countries includestatistics of religious populations.
While the census of 1890 is tabulated by counties and States as well as by associations, conferences, dioceses, presbyteries, and denominations, the materials were gathered in such a way as to permit tabulation by cities and other civil divisions. The manuscript schedules of returns
from which the printed reports are compiled show the location by city or town, county and State, and the statistical facts, of every congregation of every denomination, so that it is possible on the basis of these returns to make any desired combination in tabulation.
The list of denominations represented is believed to be exhaustive. The aim was to make it so. Returns were sought for every denomination, regardless of the character of its faith or the fewness of its members. Thus Chinese Buddhists, Mormons, Theosophists, Ethical Culturists, Communistic Societies, and Spiritualists appear in the census of 1890, as well as Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians; Jewish congregations as well as Christian; Catholic as well as Protestant. Nor were independent or unattached congregations, undenominational chapels, missions, and similar unclassified organizations omitted.
VARIETY IN RELIGION.
The first impression one gets in studying the results of the census is that there is an infinite variety of religions in the United States. There are churches small and churches great, churches white and churches black, churches high and low, orthodox and heterodox, Christian and pagan, Catholic and Protestant, Liberal and Conservative, Calvinistic and Arminian, native and foreign, Trinitarian and Unitarian. All phases of thought are represented by them, all possible theologies, all varieties of polity, ritual, usage, forms of worship. In our economical policy as a nation we have emphasized the importance of variety in industry. We like the idea of manufacturing or producing just as many articles of merchandise as possible. We have invented more curious and useful things than any other nation. In matters of religion we have not been less liberal and enterprising We seem to have about every variety known to other countries, with not a few peculiar to ourselves. Our native genius for invention has exerted itself in this direction also, and worked out some curious results. The American patent covers no less than two original Bibles —the Mormon and Oahspe—and more brands of religion, so to speak, than are to be found, I believe, in any other country. This we speak of as “the land of the free.” No man has a property in any other man, or a right to dictate his religious principles or denominational attachment. No church has a claim on the State, and the State has no claim on any church. We scarcely appreciate our advantages. Our citizens are free to choose a residence in any one of fifty States and Territories, and to move from one to another as often as they have a mind to. There is even a wider range for choice and change in religion. One may be a pagan, a Jew, or a Christian, or each in turn. If he is a pagan, he may worship in one of the numerous temples devoted to Buddha; if a Jew, he may be of the Orthodox or Reformed variety; if a Christian, he may select any one of 125 or 130 different kinds, or join every one of them in turn. He may be six kinds of an Adventist, seven kinds of a Catholic, twelve kinds of a Mennonite or Presbyterian, thirteen kinds of a Baptist, sixteen kinds of a Lutheran, or seventeen kinds of a Methodist. He may be a member of any one of 143 denominations, or of all in succession. If none of these suit him, he still has a choice among 150 separate and independent congregations, which have no denominational name, creed, or connection. Any resident of the United States is perfectly free to make himself at home with any of these religious companies, and to stay with each as long or as short a time as he will. We sometimes speak as though there were not sufficient freedom of thought. Here are many phases of thought, and any man may pass without hindrance through them all.
A closer scrutiny of the list, however, shows that many of these 143 denominations differ only in name. Without a single change in doctrine or polity, the seventeen Methodist bodies could be reduced to three or four; the twelve Presbyterian to three; the twelve Mennonite to two; and so on. The differences in many cases are only sectional or historical. The slavery question was the cause of not a few divisions, and matters of discipline were responsible for a large number. Arranging the denominations in groups or families, and counting as one family each the twelve Mennonite, the seventeen Methodist, the thirteen Baptist bodies, and so on, we have, instead of 143, only 42 titles. In other words, if there could be a consolidation of each denominational group, the reproach of our division would be largely taken away.
CLASSIFICATION OF THE CHURCHES.
In order to get a comprehensive idea of the numerous religious bodies it is necessary to classify them. This is a much simpler matter than might, at first sight, be supposed. They fall naturally into three grand divisions, Christian, Jewish, and miscellaneous. The Christian divis. ion we divide into classes, as Catholic and Protestant, and Evangelical and non-Evangelical. Quite independently of this classification we have denominational groups, or families.
Under the head miscellaneous I would include Chinese Buddhists, the Theosophists, the Ethical Culturists, and