The results of a recent study of Americans’ religious affiliations are shocking. It is the largest study on the said topic ever undertaken and it was conducted by PRRI, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. The study’s results now seriously challenge, if not debunk, the popular notion that the United States is primarily composed of white Christians. It may no longer be the case at present, modern-day America.
The study is conducted for a period of one year from January 2016 to January 2017. It interviewed 101,000 people from all 50 states. The findings were presented in a report called “America’s Changing Religious Identity.” It has the startling discovery that white Christians in the U.S. are apparently a vanishing breed.
PRRI said that results show only 43 percent of Americans now identify themselves as white Christians. Of that, only 30 percent say they’re white Protestants. That’s not the case in the past. As recently as 1976, those numbers were almost twice as high: 81 percent identified as white Christians and 55 percent as white Protestants.
Other some remarkable findings include the decreasing number of white evangelicals as well. In 2006, white evangelicals constituted nearly one-fourth of Americans at 23 percent. That has since fallen to 17 percent. Evangelicals then are declining as fast as other Christian groups, contrary to notions that they may be immune to the gradual losses seen in other Christian groups.
White Catholics in the U.S. are also on the decline- from 2006 to 2016, white Catholics decreased fromm 16 percent to 11 percent of the U.S. population. White mainline Protestants that include Episcopalians, Presbyterianns, Methodists and such comprise only 13 percent now, down from 18 percent.
The decline in white Christians among Americans is particularly more pronounced among the younger ones. Among Catholics, for instance, younger than 30, Hispanics significantly outnumber white non-Hispanics, 52 percent to 36 percent.
Although, white Christians are declining in the U.S., members of all non-Christian religious groups combined- Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and so on account for only about 6 percent of Americans.
The real, dramatic growth lies among those with no religion, who comprise 24 percent of the population. The number of the unaffiliated may have increased, but interestingly those don’t consider themselves atheists or agnostics. Six in 10 preferred to be described instead as simply secular or non-religious. 16 percent say they’re religious but are not part of an organization. It’s not a matter of them not believing in God; neither are they necessarily hostile to churches, only that they find religion irrelevant already.
Also interesting to note that in 20 states, the unaffiliated equal or outnumber the largest religious group. Most of these states are located in the West.
As for those with political identifications as well- the percentage of white Christians in the Democratic party fell from 50 percent in 2006 to 29 in 2016. Among Democrats below 30 years old, that number is now at 14 percent; 40 percent consider themselves religiously unaffiliated.
For Republicans, white evangelicals comprise 35 percent of the party. Almost three-fourths of Republicans identify as some type of white Christian. It is safe to say then that the GOP “remains the last bastion for the old order.”
In other simple words, what those numbers mean is that white Christians are now the minority in the U.S.