Religion Exercises Using the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey and SPSS


  • Religion and measurement
  • Religion and social issues
    • Religion_1SR – two-variable analysis of religion and how people feel about same-sex marriage
    • Religion_2SR – three-variable analysis of religion and how people feel about same-sex marriage
    • Religion_3ER – two-variable analysis of religion and how people feel about environmental laws and regulations
    • Religion_4ER – three-variable analysis of religion and how people feel about environmental laws and regulations
  • Religious mobility
    • Religion_1RR – comparing the religious group in which respondents were raised with their current religious preference to see how much mobility there is into and out of different religious groups
    • Religion_2RR – developing an overall measure of religious mobility and looking to see where people go when they leave their religious group
    • Religion_3RR – comparing religious mobility for men and women and for different age categories
  • Religious similarity and dissimilarity between respondents and their spouses or partners
    • Religion_1SPRcomparing religious similarity and dissimilarity between respondent and their spouse or partner for different religious groups
    • Religion_2SPR developing an overall measure of religious similarity and looking more closely at respondents who are not similar to their spouses and partners in religious preference
    • Religion_3SPR exploring whether religious similarity varies by sex and age
  • Comparing different religious groups
    • Religion_1CRintroduction to this series of exercises in which students compare two religious groups of their choice
    • Religion_2CR comparing the religiosity (i.e., how religious people are) of the two religious groups that students choose
    • Religion_3CRcomparing the religious beliefs of these two religious groups
    • Religion_4CR comparing the religious behavior of the two religious groups
    • Religion_5CR comparing political party preference and political views of these two religious groups
    • Religion_6CRcomparing opinions on same-sex marriage and abortion of the two religious groups

These twenty exercises were written for courses that include a component on religion. They could also be used in courses that introduce quantitative analysis.  The Pew Research Center has conducted a number of surveys that deal with religion.  Two of these surveys are the Religious Landscape Surveys conducted in 2007 and then repeated in 2014.  They were very large telephone surveys of about 35,000 adults in the United States.   For more information about the surveys, go to their website

The exercises use a subset of the 2014 survey which I have named Pew_2014_Religious_Landscape_ Survey_subset_for_classes.sav.  For the purposes of these exercises, I selected a subset of variables from the complete data set.  I recoded some of the variables, created a few new variables, and renamed the variables to make them easier for students to use.  There is a weight variable which should always be used so that the sample will better represent the population from which the sample was selected.  This subset can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.  To open the data set in SPSS, just double click on the file name.  (This assumes that the proper associations have been set up on your computer so the computer knows that .sav files are SPSS data files.)

Statistical Analysis

I use SPSS as the statistical package for these exercises.  However, they could be converted to SAS, Stata, or any other package you prefer.  The statistical tools used are relatively simple – percentages, crosstabulation, Chi Square, and measures of association.  Not all of these statistics are used in each exercise.  There is a spreadsheet available that identifies which exercises include which statistics. 

Notes for the Instructor

There are two sets of notes that you ought to read before using the exercises – one on how I created the data subset and the other on using the exercises in the classroom.

The exercises were written so each exercise is independent of the others and any one exercise can be used even if the other exercises are not used. Because the exercises were written to stand alone there is often duplication across the exercises. If you use several of the exercises together you may want to edit them to remove this duplication or add material of your own.

You have permission to use these exercises and to revise them to fit your needs. I would appreciate receiving a copy of your revision so I can see how the exercises are being used. If you find any errors in the exercise, please email me and I will correct them. I would also like to hear from you about your experiences using the exercises. Please contact me for more information.

There are two spreadsheets that will help you find the exercises that fit your needs.  One indicates which statistical and methodological terms are used in the various exercises and the other indicates the SPSS tools used.

Downloadable Files

Notes (in MS Word format, Word), spreadsheets (Excel), and the data subset (SPSS system file, sav) can be downloaded by clicking on the links below. 

Contacting the Author

If you would like to contact me, please email me at  I’m Professor Emeritus at California State University, Fresno in the Sociology department.  I taught research methods, statistics, and critical thinking before retiring and now teach a critical thinking course part time.

Author: Ed Nelson
Department of Sociology M/S SS97
California State University, Fresno
Fresno, CA 93740

© The Author, 2017