Religion and Public Life Survey, 2005




This project investigated the public's attitudes on religion and public life. This survey was commissioned by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and produced three reports with the following titles: "Religion A Strength And Weakness For Both Parties," "Abortion and Rights of Terror Suspects Top Court Issues", and "Views of Muslim-Americans Hold Steady After London Bombings." This survey asked questions on a variety of topics including: evolution, contrasting political party images, promoting democracy, faith-based aid, stem cell research, euthanasia, gays in the military, global conflict, support for Israel, and many other topics.

Data File

Cases: 2000
Variables: 152
Weight Variable: WEIGHT

Data Collection

July 7- July 17, 2005

Funded By

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Collection Procedures

Telephone interviews conducted in English and Spanish under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates.

Sampling Procedures

"The sample for this survey is a random-digit sample of telephone numbers selected from telephone exchanges in the continental United States. The random digit aspect of the sample is used to avoid 'listing' bias and provides representation of both listed and unlisted numbers (including not-yet-listed). The design of the sample ensures this representation by random generation of the last two digits of telephone numbers selected on the basis of their area code, telephone exchange, and bank number.

"The telephone exchanges were selected with probabilities proportional to their size. The first eight digits of the sampled telephone numbers (area code, telephone exchange, bank number) were selected to be proportionally stratified by county and by telephone exchange within county. That is, the number of telephone numbers randomly sampled from within a given county is proportional to that county's share of telephone numbers in the United States. Only working banks of telephone numbers are selected. A working bank is defined as 100 contiguous telephone numbers containing one or more residential listings.

"The sample was released for interviewing in replicates. Using replicates to control the release of sample to the field ensures that the complete call procedures are followed for the entire sample. The use of replicates also insures that the regional distribution of numbers called is appropriate. Again, this works to increase the representativeness of the sample.

"As many as 10 attempts were made to complete an interview at every sampled telephone number. The calls were staggered over times of day and days of the week to maximize the chances of making contact with a potential respondent. All interview breakoffs and refusals were re-contacted at least once in order to attempt to convert them to completed interviews. In each contacted household, interviewers asked to speak with the 'youngest male 18 or older who is at home.' If there is no eligible man at home, interviewers asked to speak with 'the oldest woman 18 or older who is at home.' This systematic respondent selection technique has been shown empirically to produce samples that closely mirror the population in terms of age and gender" (Pew Forum).

All of the above quotations taken from the survey methodology available online at the website:

Principal Investigators

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Related Publications

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Survey Report: Religion a Strength and Weakness for Both Parties, August 30, 2005

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Survey Report: Abortion and Rights of Terror Suspects Top Court Issues, August 3, 2005

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Survey Report: Views of Muslim-Americans Hold Steady after London Bombings, July 26, 2005

Complete summary information is available at the website:

Related sites:


Notes on Weighted Data:
"Non-response in telephone interview surveys produces some known biases in survey-derived estimates because participation tends to vary for different sub-groups of the population, and these sub-groups are likely to vary also on questions of substantive interest. In order to compensate for these known biases, the sample data are weighted in analysis.

"The demographic weighting parameters are derived from a special analysis of the most recently available Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (March 2005). This analysis produced population parameters for the demographic characteristics of households with adults 18 or older, which are then compared with the sample characteristics to construct sample weights. The analysis only included households in the continental United States that contain a telephone. The weights are derived using an iterative technique that simultaneously balances the distributions of all weighting parameters" (Pew Forum).

Notes on the variables BORNAGN and VERSION:
"Due to a programming error, on the first night of interviewing the Born-again question (BORNAGN) was asked only of those who answered 'something else' in the initial religious preference question or 'Protestant' in the first Christian followup question, rather than of all Christians. This totaled 3% of the 83% in the Christian and 'something else' categories. The VERSION variable was created to capture BORNAGN's missing cases instead of recoding INT_DATE." (Pew Research Center methodology notes)

Notes on the variable COMMIT:
"This variable is a combination of ATTEND and RELIMP. First recode RELIMP so that 1=1, 2=3 and 3=5. Then recode DK/Ref to the midpoints for each variable (if ATTEND=9 recode it to 3.5; if RELIMP=9, recode it to 3). Then add ATTEND and RELIMP. The scale runs from 2.0 to 11.0 where low on the scale = high commitment and high on the scale = low commitment.

"Cut points for the banner points for the White Mainline Protestant, White Evangelical Protestant, and White, Non-Hispanic Catholic are based on this distribution: High commitment = 2 - 3; Other = 3.5 - 11; General Religious Commitment: High = 2 - 3; Average = 3.5 - 6.0; Weak = 6.5 - 11.0.

"Note: This scheme is slightly different from the ones used in 2001 and 2002. The earlier scheme used different cut points for each of the three religious traditions. The current scheme uses the same criteria for high commitment for each religious tradition." (Pew Research Center methodology notes)

Notes on Sampling Technique:

"In May 2005, we began a household selection experiment which we will do indefinitely on all subsequent surveys. We administered our regular household selection parameters (youngest male/oldest female) to half of the sample (sample splits did not correspond to 'Form 1' or 'Form 2' in survey). The other half of the sample received a youngest male/youngest female selection request. The variable to analyze the difference in household selection technique is called 'screen.'

"This experiment is being run to see if we can increase the proportion of younger people included in our surveys. Analysis of our recent polling has shown that the proportion of young women in our surveys has been declining. We want to see whether a youngest male/youngest female selection helps to correct the problem." (Pew Research Center methodology notes)