UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

March 9, 2009

WHAT'S HAPPENING TO RELIGION IN THE U.S.

An excellent click and find guide to what's happening to religion in the U.S. and in your state.

USA Today - The percentage. of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. . .

These dramatic shifts in just 18 years are detailed in the new American Religious Identification Survey. Among the key findings:

- So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. . .

- Catholic strongholds in New England and the Midwest have faded as immigrants, retirees and young job-seekers have moved to the Sun Belt. While bishops from the Midwest to Massachusetts close down or consolidate historic parishes, those in the South are scrambling to serve increasing numbers of worshipers.

- Baptists, 15.8% of those surveyed, are down from 19.3% in 1990. Mainline Protestant denominations, once socially dominant, have seen sharp declines: The percentage of Methodists, for example, dropped from 8% to 5%.

- The percentage of those who choose a generic label, calling themselves simply Christian, Protestant, non-denominational, evangelical or "born again," was 14.2%, about the same as in 1990.

- Jewish numbers showed a steady decline, from 1.8% in 1990 to 1.2% today. The percentage of Muslims, while still slim, has doubled, from 0.3% to 0.6%. Analysts within both groups suggest those numbers understate the groups' populations.


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