There are many ways to look at America’s top religions.
The Public Religion Research Institute’s new American Values Atlas offers a helpful way to consider the religious makeup of the United States on both a national and state level.
As a whole the top three religions in our country are
- Catholic – 22%
- Religiously unaffiliated – 22%
- White Evangelical Protestants – 18%.
I have spent my life in Texas and Florida. The largest religion in both of these states is Catholicism. In rank order the leaders for each state are
- Catholic – 25%
- White Evangelical Protestants – 19%
- Religiously unaffiliated – 18%
- Catholic – 22%
- Religiously unaffiliated – 21%
- White Evangelical Protestants – 17%.
The Disappearing Mainline
I have lived in two of the seventeen states in which Catholicism is the most popular religion. While Catholics are the top religion in more states than any other religion, White Evangelical Protestants are not far behind (15 states – mostly Southern). The religiously unaffiliated rank third (13 states – mostly in the Pacific Northwest or the Northeast). The final groups to be the largest in any state are Mainline Protestant (2 states -North Dakota and Iowa) and Mormon (1 state – Utah).
As a lifelong Mainline Protestant I immediately noticed how far from main-anything my tradition has become. We have clearly moved from Mainline to Sideline some time ago. In addition to ranking first in just two states, we rank second in only five more (South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Despite all of the stories about the rise of the religiously unaffiliated, America remains a very religious country. The religion of choice for the vast majority of Americans is Christianity. No other world religion ranks among the top three religions practiced in any state in the United States.
- What are the top three religions in your state?
- Where does your religion rank on your state’s list? How has its relative position (at or near the top vs at or near the bottom of the list) impacted your experience.
- How do you expect the numbers to shift in your state over the next 10 years? What are some of the factors you think will have the greatest impact on such changes?
Note: While the largest Protestant subgroup is smaller than Catholicism, all Protestant groups combined remain larger than Catholicism.
Fun fact: Utah is the only state to have a top religion adhered to by more than half of the population.