Magazine article The Christian Century

Christians in America Are Younger and More Diverse, Study Shows

Magazine article The Christian Century

Christians in America Are Younger and More Diverse, Study Shows

Article excerpt

Almost every Christian denomination in the United States shows signs of growing diversity, according to a study released in September by the Public Religion Research Institute.

White Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, have given way to younger members, who are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

And while the decline of white mainline Protestants and Catholics has been documented in earlier surveys, the new PRRI survey shows a similar and relatively recent decline among white evangelicals: from 23 percent to 17 percent of the public from 2006 to 2016.

"This report provides solid evidence of a new, second wave of white Christian decline that is occurring among white evangelical Protestants just over the last decade," said Robert P. Jones, PRRI's CEO and author of The End of White Christian America. "Prior to 2008, white evangelical Protestants seemed to be exempt from the waves of demographic change and disaffiliation that were eroding the membership bases of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics.... We now see that these waves simply crested later for white evangelical Protestants."

The study, America's Changing Religious Identity, also further confirmed the rising presence of the nones--atheists, agnostics, and those who say they do not identify with any particular religion--who are about one-quarter (24 percent) of the population.

Researchers contacted 101,000 Americans in 50 states. The survey has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 0.4 percentage points.

Among the survey's chief findings:

* White Christians, 81 percent of the population in 1976, now account for less than half the public -43 percent of Americans identify as white Christians, and 30 percent as white Protestants.

* 92 percent of Lutherans are white, more than in any other denomination. …

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