Most Religious Groups In Usa Have Lost Ground, Survey Finds

Most religious groups in USA have lost ground, survey finds

; By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY When it comes to religion, the USA is now land of the freelancers.

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. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely. 

These dramatic shifts in just 18 years are detailed in the new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), to be released today. It finds that, despite growth and immigration that has added nearly 50 million adults to the U.S. population, almost all religious denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS survey in 1990.

"More than ever before, people are just making up their own stories of who they are. They say, 'I'm everything. I'm nothing. I believe in myself,' " says Barry Kosmin, survey co-author.


Among the key findings in the 2008 survey:

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. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, "the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion," the report concludes.

• 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.

Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky-Lexington, says that most national telephone surveys such as ARIS undercount Muslims, and that he is conducting a study of mosques' membership sponsored by the Hartford (Conn.) Institute for Religious Research.

Meanwhile, some Jewish surveys that report larger numbers of Jews also include "cultural" Jews — those who connect to Judiasm through its traditions, but not necessarily through actively practicing the religion.

Meanwhile, nearly 2.8 million people now identify with dozens of new religious movements, calling themselves Wiccan, pagan or "Spiritualist," which the survey does not define.

Wicca, a contemporary form of paganism that includes goddess worship and reverence for nature, has even made its way to Arlington National Cemetery, where the Pentagon now allows Wiccans' five-pointed-star symbol to be used on veterans' gravestones.

Catholic 57.2 26.2% 25.1% -1.1% Baptist 36.1 19.3% 15.8% -3.5% No religion 34.2 8.2% 15.0% 6.8% Christian, generic 32.4 14.8% 14.2% -0.6% Mainline Protestant 29.4 18.7% 12.9% -5.8% Don't Know/Refused 11.8 2.3% 5.2% 2.9% Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.0 3.2% 3.5% 0.3% Protestant denominations 7.1 2.6% 3.1% 0.5% Mormon/latter-day Saints 3.2 1.4% 1.4% 0.0% New movements (such as Wiccan), other religions 2.8 0.8% 1.2% 0.4% Jewish 2.7 1.8% 1.2% -0.6% Eastern religions 2.0 0.4% 0.9% 0.5% Muslim 1.4 0.3% 0.6% 0.3%

JojoWazoo JojoWazoo
46-50, F
30 Responses Mar 9, 2009

thedistracted1-<br />
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A skeptic's mind is always open, as opposed to the mind that has chosen to believe in beings that are indetectable and unfalsifiable. There is no need to look to superstition to explain our reality. There are natural explanations for everything. Those things that we don't know for sure yet, we are closing in using reason and approaching those problems from a standpoint of having to explain things using evidence and not blind faith. <br />
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There is no magic, and so invoking magical beings does nothing to explain our situation.

Exactly Thedistracred1, so no one is right! So reason stands with me!

Not everybody reads and believes a book written by 'primitive and barbaric men' :-)<br />
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As far as 'reason' goes, it has not up till now, since the dawn of human civilisation, been able to 'explain' existence itself. In fact, it cannot explain its own birth, i.e. the cognitive process.

LOL Stevester. I was raised in the Catholic church too. By 11, I had some serious questions about religion and rituals. I made my confirmation to please my parents all the while believing there was no "God" the hot assed gates of hell. (They threw a good party though!) I couldn't get with confession. I always wondered who the heck the priest was to tell me I was absolved of my sins. Anyway, The rest is history and I am recovered. I appreciated your story. It's a good one!

As someone raised in a catholic environment I found increasing levels of discomfort with the obvious falsity of the whole set up . In addition to listening to the strange rituals, some of which are very colourful, I found the whole kow tow to the priest vaguely upsetting. It was easy to see how these guys were able to exert such influence because it was verboten to even quesion anything they said. <br />
In the more country areas they became authorities on virtually everything and reached the status of shamens. The mainstream protestant churches did not ascribe the same level of authority to their pastors but many of the more cultist ones do. What saved me mental anguish throughout the early years of my conflict with the church and cultural restraints was the subversive cynicism of my friends. a group of 13 yr old boys singing hymns in a choir but collectively fantasizing about the breasts of the music teacher is a wonderful antidote to the bromide of ecclesiastic rant.

Truly pathetic.

You're welcome. Thanks for reading!

hey jojo thanks for sharing!

The catholic church doesn't let them read the bible, the priest reads scripture and then explains it. Pathetic, i tell ya!

That's a good question. Maybe it's hidden because the pope doesn't think people will stick with the religion when they read what it really says.

Why does he have his own version. Where's the real version. How about the New International Version?

Because that's the version mommy and daddy read. You know what they say, religion's hereditary

Here, here, "V". If the bible is true why do people read the King James Version?

It's true to say that they're both beliefs, but not all beliefs are created equal. Some believe things for very good reasons, others believe things because a book written by primitive and barbaric men tells them to believe.

I think it is better to keep one's mind open. Some people believe God exists, some believe otherwise. Both are beliefs, which is not bad but it would be better to keep one's mind open, creative and exploring. <br />
Of course there are some people who are more worried about converting others instead of trying to find something 'real' for themselves. They are childish.

I am, I am! *Let me go look for my light saber* BRB! <br />

ooooh, I always wanted to be a bada$$ jedi knight. The force is strong with this one! <br />
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After I get my light saber, I'll wander the countryside doing good deeds like Kwai Chang Caine, talking like Yoda the entire time. Who's with me? Who's bloody with me?

Hahaha Stevester. When I'm asked for my "Race," I check "Other" and write in "Human." LOLOL

In the last survey of Northern Ireland a campaign was launched encouraging people to register their religion as Jedi knight. Apparently only 10,000 were required to lift it out of the others category and be named as a denomination. It didn't happen and I don't know if it was a lack of numbers or the authorities put the kibosh on it. But damn I was looking forward to wearing that light sabre.

Hahaha! All of you! We can stand around, pass the plate and not have to pay taxes on the gain! Now that's a win-win situation! And if a theory of a miracle happens, that's all the better!

No V, it is a 'theory' that it is a miracle. :P

If we pray for nothing to happen, is it still a miracle if our prayers are answered?

Godfree - That was very funny. :)<br />
Thanks for sharing this JoJo. I like to see the percentages.

we atheists need a hook to get more people involved, I wish we could have some kind of major atheist miracle, like a bunch of us get together and stand around while nothing happins, but that too much like regular church services

I don't think you'll ever see that coming from my district. Hell, they keep re-electing an imbecile who advocates having the 10 Commandments in all federal buildings and then he can't name them on the Stephen Colbert Show! LOL He's the boy from the south who doesn't know the racial connotations of calling a black person "Uppity." LOL I'm not going to Congress! Hahaha

There are 435 members in the house of representatives, and there's another 100 senators. Out of these 535 people, there is now one that is brave enough to say that he's an atheist: Pete Stark-D (of course he's a democrat lol) of California. <br />
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I predict that in the coming decades we will see that number balloon to several dozen. The beliefs and the people won't change, what will change is that the political climate will change enough in their states that they will be able to win even though they say they don't believe. <br />
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Change is coming. The zeitgeist is shifting.

Okay, let's start recruiting! I'm ready as well! (repitition) (repitition)

Is that better Deftone?<br />
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The party's on! Resem! I'm ready! I'm ready! I'm ready!

Well, we appear to be climbing the charts. Lol, does this call for celebration? I believe it does :)

i dont think anyone will read all of that. I just scrolled down to tell you i read the same thing.