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Are White Christians Now A Minority Group?

Are White Christians Now A Minority Group?

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, "As recently as 1996, white Christians still made up almost two-thirds (65 percent) of the public". The percentage of white evangelicals in the Republican Party declined only two percent over the same decade-from 37% to 35%.

Nearly every Christian denomination in the USA shows signs of growing diversity as white Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, give way to younger members, who tend to be of different races, according to a study released Wednesday (Sept. 6) by the Public Religion Research Institute.

The change has occurred across the spectrum of Christian traditions in the US, including sharp drops in membership in predominantly white mainline Protestant denominations such as Presbyterians and Lutherans; an increasing Latino presence in the Roman Catholic Church as some non-Hispanic White Catholics leave; and shrinking ranks of White evangelicals, who until recently had been viewed as immune to decline.

Even white evangelicals, a group typically viewed as being shrink-proof, have seen a drop-off in numbers. White Christians, once the dominant religious group in the US, now account for fewer than half of all adults living in the country.

Appalachian and Midwestern states are controlled by white Christians as compared to the Sun Belt and West Coast states. Since 2006, the percentage of Americans who identify as white and Catholic dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent. Approximately 10 percent of mainline protestants, Catholics and evangelicals are below 30 years of age. More than one-quarter, 27 percent, of Americans today identify as religiously unaffiliated. Nearly a quarter of all Americans, meanwhile, don't identify with any religion. The Northeast is no longer the epicenter of American Catholicism-although at 41% Catholic, Rhode Island remains the most Catholic state in the country. Head to the northeast (and one out west) for the most religiously diverse states in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and California.

At the same time, the new PRRI survey identified a specific decline in the percentage of Americans who identify as white Protestants - now at just 30 per cent. More than half (52%) espouse the historically Catholic doctrine that good deeds and faith are required to get into heaven. This is in contrast to 81 per cent of Americans identifying as white Christians in 1976.

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Though atheists and agnostics account for about one-fourth of all the religiously unaffiliated, 16 percent of the unaffiliated identify as "a religious person". But Democrats have a problem on their hands when it comes to young white Catholics, with just 21 percent of them identifying with the party. Fewer than one in three (29%) Democrats today are white Christian, compared to half (50%) one decade earlier. And one-third (34%) are religiously unaffiliated.

There are now 20 states in which the religiously unaffiliated outnumber adherents of any other single religious group.

MS is the most homogeneous state in terms of religion (60 percent are Baptist) while NY is the most religiously diverse. It includes a sample of more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states.

"The result of the survey.in America and Europe is not particularly surprising", said Paige Patterson, a participant during the 1990s in a five-year theological dialogue between eight Southern Baptist leaders and eight representatives of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"We need to begin asking people, 'How do you make meaning in your life? How do you cultivate a sense of wonder?'" she said.

Then there's the 24 percent who don't affiliate with a religion, plus the 3 percent that said they didn't know or refused to answer.