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Best Resources to Research Cultural Trends

Current Events and Religious Media

In her award-winning weekly radio show, On Being, Krista Tippett explores the intersection of theology and human experience through conversations with compelling and challenging theologians, scientists, academics and significant cultural personalities. The website houses podcasts and archives of past shows and an interactive blog that features informed guests writing on issues of culture and faith.

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly offers distinctive, cutting-edge news coverage and analysis of national and international events in the religious world as it explores how issues of faith, religion and ethics shape both national and international events. The website includes archives of past show transcripts, streaming video of weekly reports, related articles dealing with significant issues, lists of related resources, audio and video podcasts, and a collection of viewer’s guides with essays, discussion questions and resources.

The Religion Newswriters Association website is devoted to promoting excellence in media coverage and public discourse about religion. As part of its mission, RNA sponsors sister websites that offer windows into significant contemporary issues and debates about faith and culture, and current religion headlines.

Data on Religious & Cultural Trends

Faith Communities Today (FACT) is the educational arm of an ongoing consortium of researchers and religious leaders who work cooperatively to survey the memberships of more than 25 American religious groups to identify common and distinctive as well as constant and transitioning demographic, faith and practice dynamics. The site's data reports on changes in religion since 2000 and identifies common issues across faith communities.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research produces rigorous, policy-relevant research that anticipates emerging issues and pursues creative ways to disseminate findings, including integrating them into courses taught at Hartford Seminary. Among its work, the institute has produced groundbreaking studies on women clergy, the implications of the Internet for religious life, the role of church websites, and changes in seminary and denominational structures and concerns.

The purpose of the ongoing National Study of Youth and Religion is to research the shape and influence of religion and spirituality on the lives of American youth; identify effective practices in the religious, moral and social formation of youth; describe the perceived reach and effectiveness of the programs religious communities offer their youth; and foster an informed national discussion about the influence of religion in the lives of youth. Begun in 2001, the survey completed its third wave of study in December 2010. From the website you can access interpretive reports, articles and multimedia presentations, as well as a list of for-purchase publications based on the data.

Conducted in two waves (2001 and 2008-09), the U.S. Congregational Life Survey is the largest and most representative profile of worshippers and their congregations ever conducted in the U.S. Results reflect contemporary congregational life, including insights into how worshippers experience and connect with their congregations. A unique feature of this study is the opportunity for any congregation to self-administer the survey and return it to USCLS for a complete report, including valuable comparisons to the benchmarks established by the national surveys.  

Opportunities to Learn More About Religious Trends 

The primary work of the Center for Congregations is to assist the churches of Indiana to become the best they can be by providing educational opportunities and material that reflects contemporary society. Articles and postings highlight exemplary youth ministry, introducing drama into worship, understanding the missional church, and more

The National Congregations Study gathers information on an ongoing basis about a wide range of characteristics and activities of America’s congregations. Data is collected on congregational social composition, structure, activities and programming. The website offers access to the raw data through a set of filters that you can combine to develop custom tables of results exploring questions that interest you.

The African American Lectionary punctuates the wider liturgical calendar with resources that draw out the African American ecclesial tradition, highlighting those moments that creatively express the joy and challenges of being both African American and Christian. By addressing contemporary issues in African American life, the site’s resources shed light on trends and concerns within a segment of American culture.

The Association of Theological Schools is an organization for administrators of schools of theology. However, because member schools report their enrollments, programs of study, finances and development programs, the site is a repository of ongoing data about who is attending professional schools of theology, how those schools are adjusting their curricula to meet the needs of culture and students, and how they are faring as schools with a specific professional focus.

Archives, Data and Commentary About Cultural Trends

The Association of Religion Data Archives provides easy access to the most trusted information on American and international faith practices, housing more than 900 historic and contemporary collections of data on religion. Included are church membership and demographic reports; worldwide national and regional profiles; survey findings on the religious beliefs, behaviors, affiliations, attitudes and experiences; an interactive Religion Timeline and more, including interpretive articles on the site’s blogs, Ahead of the Trend and GlobalPlus.

Resources for American Christianity is an archive site that helps Christian church members, leaders and scholars understand the impact, trends and trajectories of Christianity in American society by providing access to information from and reflection on selected research projects funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. Explore the clusters of projects and products, essays, interviews and study guides, and newsletters listed under the “Overview Resources” tab.

Also explore the other articles and annotations in Insights Into Religion's “Cultural Trends,” section.



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