Protestants Soon "A Statistical Minority?"
That's why so much is being made of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey of 33,000 Americans that found those claiming to be Protestant now make up just 51% of the population.
There are only two other affiliations that make up a significant amount of America's religion (or lack of it): Catholics with 24% and "unaffiliated" with 16%. Add up mainline, evangelical, Black churches, and you get 51%.
Jews are 1.7%, equal to Mormons, and Muslims at 0.6%, on a par with Hindus and Jehovah's Witnesses.
The sensationalism of the survey is due in part to its breaking out of Protestants as separate from Christians. If you tally all the Christian faiths (yes, we're counting the Mormons in there), you find that America is very much a nation of Christians -- over two in three Americans, 78.4%, profess faith in Christ. Throw in the Jews, and you have 80.1% hewing to Judeo-Christian values.
Not surprising, given the aggressive promotion of secularism in schools, is the growth of the Church of Unaffiliated:
Overall, 7.3% of the adult population says they were unaffiliated with any particular religion as a child. Today, however, 16.1% of adults say they are unaffiliated, a net increase of 8.8 percentage points.Stated another way, in a single generation, the amount of people who have no tie to church -- or, presumably to the Judeo-Christian values upon which are society is founded -- has more than doubled. If it doubles again in another generation, there will be as many unaffiliateds as Catholics.
(Catholics, by the way, are suffering large losses among those born in America, but are holding stead by a pretty good conversion rate and a huge influx of Latin American Catholics.)
All in all, the report is less sensational than the media coverage it's generating, like this from US News:
We remain dramatically Christian, with many Christian churches enjoying healthy growth. It's just those Unaffiliateds that are giving my heartburn. Even without churches and preachers, they seem to be converting millions, depriving them of the joy of faith, and potentially altering the moral fiber of the country.
The first American colonists were Protestant, and for roughly four centuries their descendents, along with successive waves of Protestant immigrants, have been the country's dominant religious group.But now Protestants are on the verge of becoming a statistical minority in the U.S., according a study released today.