George Gallup Jr. has conducted his last poll. The renowned pollster, who helped run the polling organization his father founded for more than 50 years, has died of liver cancer at the age of 81, the New York Times reports. Gallup, who once considered becoming an Episcopalian priest and worked as a lay minister in Texas before joining the family business, never lost his passion for religion. He specialized in polling Americans on their religious beliefs and once said gathering information on public opinion was itself a kind of ministry.
"This is a new frontier of research, the inner life," said Gallup, who founded the Princeton Religion Research Center and published several books on spirituality and religion. His research tracked the rise of evangelical Christianity in the '70s and the religious right in the '80s, the Wall Street Journal notes. His research, he said, suggested that while America is the world's most religious nation, many Americans tend to be ignorant about theology and religious texts. "America's religion is broad but not deep," he said in 2003. "It's not that Americans don't believe anything. They believe everything."