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Who Is Drawn to Unity

Walk into Christ Unity Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and statistically you're most likely to run into a White woman in her 50s who is married, has a bachelor's degree and works as a professional or a manager. This demographically average churchgoer is the summation of responses to surveys given to attendees at a service at Christ Unity Church in Albuquerque and at a retreat at Unity Village, Missouri (See Appendix for a complete description of research methods). The 72-item survey was distributed to 81 people during a retreat at Unity Village: 27 participants in the retreat and 54 students in the Continuing Education Program. Responses were received from 32, for a response rate of 39.5 percent from the retreat. A slightly altered survey was distributed to every person in attendance at one Sunday service at Christ Unity Church. Of 121 surveys distributed, 65 were returned for a response rate of 53.7 percent. The overall response rate was 48.0 percent.

Because Unity churches can be so different, the information obtained through these surveys cannot be generalized to Unity as a whole, but is representative of the two groups which participated. Results were tabulated for all respondents as well as for the subgroups of Albuquerque and the retreat. The Albuquerque results are representative of a typical congregation which is open to different philosophies but for the most part adheres to the original teachings of the founders. The retreat results represent a much more diverse group of Unity participants from different parts of the country, from different types of churches and with varying levels of participation in the movement. Because of the similarities of the responses, most of the results will be presented as a total. The greatest diversity in survey data was found in demographics. Disparities between the two groups will be noted when present. The similarity of the responses between the two groups regarding beliefs, attitudes and practices suggests that the results might be more generalizable to Unity as a whole, but further research would be necessary to prove this point.

This chapter provides an overview of the general demographics of the Unity population which was sampled and compares this data to national trends. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of these demographics in light of the religious free-market paradigm.

© 1997, Rebecca Gittrich Whitecotton
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.