There are many non-Catholics, Jews perhaps foremost, who should be grateful to Andrew Greeley for helping to paint a religious landscape of America.
Sociologist and priest, Andrew Greeley passed away yesterday at age 85. In addition to his many accomplishments, Greeley was a senior researcher at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center which fielded the first General Social Survey in 1972 and was the first ongoing national survey to ask a religion question, a continuation of Greeley’s groundbreaking work on the social effects of a Catholic education which overturned the widespread belief that Catholics had low college attendance rates. Greeley found that white Catholics graduated from college and pursued advanced degrees at higher rates than the general white population in the U.S. which was mostly Protestant.
Jewish researchers got their first taste of a national data-set, the GSS, which hinted at the actual population size of American Jewry and had 16 almost yearly series of data about Jews by the time the first 1990 National Jewish Population was fielded and served as a validation tool for the new, more comprehensive national Jewish data.
Its possible to say that if this Catholic priest who was never allowed to pastor a parish because of the facts that he found and published to the dismay of his superiors and subsequently was forced to turn his energies and life to research, American Jews would perhaps have never learned so much about ourselves through the data gathering that he help create over the past half-century.
Pini Herman, PhD. specializes in demographics, big data and predictive analysis, has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography, Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work, Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position and is a past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: firstname.lastname@example.org To follow Pini on Twitter: Follow @pinih