by Barry A. Kosmin, Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC) and Research Professor, Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College & Ariela Keysar, Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC) and Associate Professor, Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College
ARIS 2008 is the third in a landmark time series of large, nationally representative surveys that track changes in the religious loyalties of the U.S. adult population within the 48 contiguous states from 1990 to 2008. The 2001 and 2008 surveys are replicas of the 1990 survey, and are led by the same academic research team using an identical methodology of random-digit-dialed telephone interviews (RDD) and the same unprompted, open-ended key question “What is your religion, if any?” Interviewers did not prompt or ofer a suggested list of potential answers. Moreover, the self-description of respondents was not based on whether established religious bodies or institutions considered them to be members. To the contrary, the surveys sought to determine whether the respondents regarded themselves as adherents of a religious community. Te surveys tap subjective rather than objective standards of religious identification. Te value of this unique series of national surveys, which allows scientifc monitoring of change over time, has been recognized by the U.S. Bureau of the Census Te Bureau itself is constitutionally precluded from such an inquiry into religion, and so has incorporated NSRI/ARIS fndings into its officially publication the Statistical Abstract of the United States since 2003.