ELCA-Episcopal Church Study, 1999-2000

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Members or Leaders > Other > Summary


The ELCA/Episcopal Church study proceeded from the belief that we must capture as many aspects of congregational life as possible in order to evaluate the political salience of the diverse information sources within the church environment. The congregant survey paralleled the clergy survey, asking a wide range of questions about membersí congregation, clergy and political behavior, including political motivation and partisanship, civic skill practice, social recruitment into politics and political participation. The survey also asked about social theology, issue importance, group involvement, political opinions, voting behavior and demographics, among other topics.

Data File
Cases: 1,551
Variables: 364
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: 1999-2000
Funded By
National Science Foundation (SBR-9809536 to Gustavus Adolphus College) and the American Political Science Association.
Collection Procedures
The data were collected through mail surveys.
Sampling Procedures
The first stage of the project involved a national survey of clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church, USA. A full description and analysis of the ELCA/Episcopal clergy study are presented in The Prophetic Pulpit: Clergy, Churches, and Communities in American Politics (Djupe and Gilbert 2003). This file is available at the ARDA.

The second stage of the study moved from clergy to church members, using a subset of responding clergy as a starting point. Choosing 50 responding clergy at random from each denomination, permission was sought to survey the members of their congregation, in order to bring together data on the perceptions and political behaviors of clergy and congregants. Sixty churches (38 ELCA and 22 Episcopal) agreed to participate. These 60 congregations did not differ significantly from the full set of congregations represented in the clergy study.

Starting in 1999 and continuing into early 2000, using church membership directories to generate random samples, ed two waves of surveys were mailed to about 6,000 ELCA and Episcopal congregants across the United States. While this works out to approximately 100 members per congregation, the starting sample sizes range from 50 to 200, depending on congregational size. In small congregations all adult members received a survey in the mail. Generally, for congregations with less than 200 adult members, surveys were mailed to one adult member from each household, alternating between women and men in households with more than one adult member. In mid-sized to large congregations, respondents were selected at random from the congregationís current mailing list.

Approximately 1,050 ELCA members (30 percent response rate) and 550 Episcopalians (25 percent) responded; an overall response rate of about 27 percent.
Principal Investigators
Paul A. Djupe (Denison University) and Christopher P. Gilbert (Gustavus Adolphus College), Co-PI's
Related Publications
Djupe, Paul A. and Christopher P. Gilbert. 2003. The Prophetic Pulpit: Clergy, Churches, and Communities in American Politics. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Djupe, Paul A. and Christopher P. Gilbert. 2009. The Political Influence of Churches. New York: Cambridge University Press.