Guest / Limited Access /

The new U.S. Religious Landscape Survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life renders familiar territory remarkable. This poll of more than 35,000 American adults has produced a map of population centers (major religious traditions), the boundaries that separate them, and the thoroughfares that connect them. Among the highlights of the latest findings:

  • Close to half (44 percent) of all Americans have changed religions or denominations at least once in their lifetimes.

  • Protestants now make up just 51 percent of the population, though the total Christian population remains as high as 78 percent.

  • Some 16 percent of American adults describe themselves as religiously "unaffiliated," more than twice the percentage who say they had no religious upbringing.

  • In addition to contributing to religious diversity, immigration also augments the country's church rolls, as 46 percent of foreign-born adults claim Catholic identity and 24 percent claim Protestant identity.

The survey's topline summary describes this scene as "both very diverse and extremely fluid," which is an apt assessment as long as one remembers that the subject examined is a landscape and not, say, a moving crowd in an airport. For all of the often quite illuminating attention they get, non-Christian religions still constitute only about 5 percent of the American population. All religious groups are gaining and losing members in a very competitive environment, but the overall percentages remain fairly stable year to year and even decade to decade. Contrary to some solicitations for home missions, America is not going to become a minority Christian country anytime soon.

Why Evangelical United Methodists Don't Count The Pew report contains much useful information for pastors, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedBible Society Takes 'More Accurate and Hopeful' Stance on Scripture Skeptics
Bible Society Takes 'More Accurate and Hopeful' Stance on Scripture Skeptics
(UPDATED) No more 'Bible antagonists,' among many findings in this year's ABS/Barna 'State of the Bible' report.
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickGod's Hot Pursuit of an Armed Bank Robber
God's Hot Pursuit of an Armed Bank Robber
After I surrendered to the FBI, I surrended to the Holy Spirit.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.