Americans Feel More Positive About Most Religions

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, between June 2014 and January 2017, American views shifted to become more positive about about most of the world's great religions.  More specifically, survey respondents were asked to to rate a variety of groups on a “feeling thermometer” that ranged from 0 to 100 (with higher numbers reflecting warmer or more positive feelings). Respondents warmed to several religions during this two and a half year period, including Atheists Read More …

Top Religions by State

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. National Perspective As a whole the top three religions in our country are Catholic - 22% Religiously unaffiliated - 22% White Evangelical Protestants - 18%. Personal Experience I have spent my life in Texas and Florida.  The largest religion Read More …

Fewer and Fewer Christians (& Even Fewer Mainline Protestants)

In 2007 the Pew Research Center conducted their initial U.S. Religious Landscape Study.  The 2014 edition, published earlier today, shows Christianity declined by 8% in America over the last seven years (78.4% to 70.6%).  Allowing for the margin of error, this means the number of Christian adults in the U.S. has shrunk by somewhere between 2.8 million and 7.8 million. Decline Impacts All Christian Traditions Mainline Protestants and Catholics top the list for experiencing the greatest Read More …

Changes in Christian Affiliation in Latin America

Last week the Pew Research Center released findings from their recent survey examining religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) across Latin America and the Caribbean.  While this region of the world is home to over 400 million Catholics (nearly 40% of the global total) and despite the popularity of the first Latin American Pope, affiliation with Catholicism is declining rapidly. Dramatic Decline From the 1900s through the 1960s Read More …

Shifts in Religious Affiliation (1972-2012)

The changing role of religion in American culture is a popular topic of conversation among religious leaders.  Those leaders situated within Mainline Protestantism (a tradition I claim as my own) are talking more openly than ever before about decline.  Even the names used to describe the tradition increasingly recognize that the decline is both about diminishing numbers of adherents (Oldline) and a more marginalized role (Sideline).  While I am encouraged by increased attention given to the Read More …

Who REALLY Attends Church?

Over the last 10 days I have seen at least a few dozen different articles or blog posts talking about the gap between who says they attend church and who actually attends.  The sudden focus on the topic is a result of a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, which was release on May 17.  More specifically, the latest inquiry finds that people are more honest about the topic when asked in an anonymous online survey than when asked by phone.  Interestingly, three groups were more likely Read More …

Latinos Leaving Catholicism

The longstanding cultural expectation that Latinos are overwhelmingly Catholic is shifting.  New data from Pew Research finds that "a majority (55%) of the nation’s estimated 35.4 million Latino adults – or about 19.6 million Latinos – identify as Catholic today."  To put this in perspective, one must understand that the percentage of Latinos self-identifying as Catholic has been declining for two decades, and the rate of decline is accelerating.  Over the last four years alone, the number has Read More …

America the Religiously Diverse

Last week's graphic of the week from the Public Religion Research Institute is titled America the Diverse.  In the days since it was posted, I have returned to it several times and referenced it in multiple conversations. So What? The information contained on this graphic isn't news to those who follow generational trends.  It is, however, important data for congregational leaders to consider as they plan for the future. Currently, I serve two mainline congregations comprised primarily Read More …

Religion in America: A Map

This map, based on the 2010 census data, shows the largest religious groups in each county of the U.S.                                   So What? While the Catholic Church is the largest religious tradition in more counties than any other group, the Southern Baptists are a close second and are a majority in the vast majority of counties in the Read More …

The Decade of Christian Decline

2000-2010 can best be labeled as a decade of decline for American Christianity.  David Roozen's recent piece in the Christian Century provides an important look at just how rapid the decline was for conservative/evangelical Protestants, mainline/oldline Protestants, and Roman Catholics.  As a percentage, the declines were oldline/mainline: 13% Catholic: 5% conservative/evangelical: 1% So What? After decades of progressive Christianity, it should not be surprising to see the Read More …