American Religion from 1970 to 2010

America is a rather religious country.  The chart below (Religions of the World, p. 3002) provides an overview of American religion in 1970 and in 2010 alongside data about what percentage of the population each group comprised in 2010 and the annual growth rate for each during the most recent decade.

 

So What?

Despite the increases in religious pluralism, more than 4 in 5 Americans were Christian in 2010.

  • Are you surprised to learn that Protestants declined in total numbers between 1970 and 2010 (a time-frame when the overall US population grew significantly) and also declined during the first decade of this millennium (one of only two groups to do so)?  What factors do you feel have contributed most significantly to this ongoing decline?
  • During the last decade only three groups experience an average annual growth rate of 2% or greater: Agnostics, Baha’is, Buddhists, and Sikhs.  Why might these groups be faring better than the others?  Are the conditions that have contributed to significant growth likely to continue, and, if so, will this continue to positively impact their growth?

Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, eds. 2nded. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010. 3788 pp. 6 vols.

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