one-sided it falls off my bookshelf."
the number right
While I'm glad that the Magazine recently won
an award for its writing excellence, I was most disappointed to find major factual
errors in "Keeping
Their Religion" (August/02) as to the number of Muslims in the United
States. In the first place, neither the State Department nor any other government
agency collects data on the religious affiliation of Americans, so the State Department
cannot have any official estimates of the number of Muslims (or Jews or Catholics)
or members of any other religion residing in the United States. So how, then,
does the State Department know this? The article fails to provide a more specific
citation, and the reader is left puzzled.
precisely because the government does not collect religious information in the
Census, estimates of the number of Muslims currently residing in the United States
are extremely variable and, for political reasons, extremely controversial. However,
one of the most reliable of these estimates was made recently by Tom Smith of
the National Opinion Research Center, an organization which is located quite near
the University of Chicago. In a highly publicized study, Smith has estimated that
there are about 2 million to 3 million Muslims currently residing in the United
States. Smith's work should have been mentioned in an article such as this. This
carelessness is unworthy of your magazine.
Lerner, AM'82, PhD'84
Lerner is right to note that the Magazine's editors erred in their condensation
of the State Department Web site's statement that "[w]hile there are no official
population figures for religious affiliation in the United States, experts estimate
that there are approximately six million American Muslims. Other estimates range
from four to eight million." For more on Tom Smith's research, see "Investigations,"