The following the first in a three part series first published on Rev. Christine Robinson’s blog, iminister

In 1990, 2001, and  2008, researchers funded by the Lily Foundation randomly dialed  up about fifty thousand  Americans and asked them,  “What is your religion, if any?  Then, they asked follow-up questions.  In 2008, 192 of those fifty thousand identified as Unitarian Universalists, up from 182 in 2001.  The following is an extrapolation and analysis of this data.  The whole report can be found  here  This study gives us some interesting information about ourselves and comparison to other religious bodies.

The single most interesting, but not surprising fact is that this study suggests that there are more than a half a million adult UU’s in this nation.  Fewer than half of these self-identified UU’s are legal members of UU churches, but they think of themselves as UU’s.  Furthermore, this group is growing robustly…as a matter of fact,  nearly keeping up with population growth.  (the group of self-identified UU’s grew by 26% between 1990 and 2008, compared with 30% population growth)

Here’s a happy surprise:  The UUA has done a little better than the nation as a whole in increasing ethnic diversity.   In 1990, non-Hispanic Whites were 90% of the  UUA. (compared to 77% in the US as a whole)  These days, non-Hispanic whites are 75% of the UUA. (compared to 66% overall)    We are still lagging behind our nation, but not by as much.   Our success at this is largely due to an increase in Hispanic UU’s, however, while most of our diversity “angst” over the years has been the small number of African American UU’s.

11% of the US population is Black,  but only 6% of this sample of people who claim to be Unitarian Universalists is Black.  However, even on this point we have notable success.  In 1990, we lagged 8 points behind the nation in percentage of Black members.  These days, we lag only 5 percentage points behind. This study has more interesting things to say about us.  Stay tuned to this Blog for more!


Guest  Blogger

Rev. Christine Robinson has been the minister of First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1988. She describes herself as a “human being, mom, Unitarian Universalist minister, wife, friend, intrigued with technology and how it can help us minister to each other and our world.”

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Tandi Rogers


  1. Ezequiel

    I suggest litniseng to the 2009 GA workshop on generational differences of the population as a whole, not just UUs (though very applicable to us). Yes, 10 a.m. is not the ideal time for young adults to come to a service—in fact, many young adults will be more interested in pot-luck dinners, vespers, events held at the building in the evenings (covenant circles, justice events, etc.)—attending a weekly service is not how they think of “doing church”. So I am going to encourage my congregation to (sorry for the cliche9) think outside the box for programs/activities that will appeal to that age group. I will be watching here for thoughts.


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