Religiosity in America

There is "paint-by-numbers," and there are numbers that paint a picture. A new survey just released by the University of Chicago 's National Opinion Research Center should give Protestants food for thought. The study shows that the percentage of people who identify themselves as Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and such—often called the " Main Line " Protestants—together with the self-named non-denominational protestants, charismatics, fundamentalists, whatever, now are just barely in the majority in the U-S, only 52% of the Christian community nationwide. That's down from a high of 62% thirty years ago.

The rate of this change depends on how you count the rapidly growing Mormon Church, but how ever they are counted, the Protestant accustomed lion's share of American religiosity is diminishing. Further, the study says the number of people who say they have no religion is up about 5%, and among younger people, 27% say they are not religious.

On the other hand, the number of people who call themselves just "Christian," as opposed to a particular denomination, has doubled. Among all immigrants—about 10% of the U-S population—only one-in-four is Protestant. Southern Baptists are not growing as fast as they were; Episcopalians are losing communicants. Romans Catholics and Jews are holding steady, but Orthodox Christian churches are growing. Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus have more than doubled in less than ten years.