Statistical changes in American religious life

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ColoradoGuy

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Trinity College in Connecticut has issued their latest assessment of the state of American religious groupings. Called the American Religious Identification Survey, you can find a summary here and a complete copy (it's 26 pages) here. It compares the early 1990s with 2008 (with one additional data point in 2001).

The overall trend is a decline from 86% to 76% in Americans identifying themselves as Christians. Most of this decline comes from what's been called "mainline Protestant denominations." Fifteen percent claim no religion. Interestingly, an increasing number of Americans now prefer a non-denominational designation.

A few other tidbits. The overall number of Catholics hasn't changed much, but the axis of this population has shifted to those areas higher in Hispanics. Mormons are unchanged proportionately, but Baptists are less numerous as a percent of the population.

A summary quotation of interest: "It looks like the two-party system of American Protestantism--mainline versus evangelical--is collapsing . . . . A generic form of evangelicalism is emerging as the normative form of non-Catholic Christianity in the United States."

It's interesting reading.
 

Guffy

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I have been watching this trend for some time now. I've read that church membership has been in decline since the 60s. I've also read that while church membership is in decline peoples individual perception of their own spirituality has been growing. I wonder if this happening in non-Christian religions.
 

ColoradoGuy

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How are the Quakers doing?
We're chugging along just fine. In fact, for some time now a majority of American Quakers are not what we call "birthright" (meaning having Quaker parents) but are what we call "convinced," the Quaker term for converts. Besides members, most Quaker meetings also have at least as many "attenders," folks who come, participate in the Meeting, but aren't ready to convince for one reason or another. Useless wars always bring quite a few new people to us. But unprogrammed Friends are still a tiny sliver of American religion -- about 200,000 in the US, I believe.
 

James81

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A generic form of evangelicalism is emerging as the normative form of non-Catholic Christianity in the United States."[/I]

Is this what the bible talks about in Revelation as the Leaodecian church? "Neither cold nor hot and he'll spew them out of his mouth?"
 

Monkey

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Adherents of New Religious movements, including Wiccans and self-described pagans, have grown faster this decade than in the 1990s.

From what I understand, this category grew tremendously in the 1990's, so that's really saying something.

Pretty soon, we'll break the 1% mark!


*sigh*


ETA: Where do they get off calling "self-described pagans" a New Religious Movement? The OED originally said that "Pagan" was a term of Christian origin, basically used to denote, well, heathens, but in the book listing corrections and additions to the OED, it said that the term "Pagan" was actually much older than previously believed. It was originally used by "self-described pagans" who were, to quote (albeit from memory), "polytheistic nature worshippers". NRM my tookus. :D
 
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Mac H.

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The overall trend is a decline from 86% to 76% in Americans identifying themselves as Christians.
Even more interesting ... only 34% of American adults self-identify as being 'born again' or 'evangelical' Christians.

Almost by the definition of 'evangelical', these are the people who actively want others to be Christian.

So does that means that 66% of Americans aren't particularly interested in whether people are Christian or not ?

Mac
 

veinglory

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In line with the survey discussed a few months ago, it seems that is of the shifts (lack of interest in converting others).
 

TerzaRima

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I only looked at the summary, but I'll have to look at the longer document--I'm sure it breaks this stuff down by age and education level. It would be interesting to see how boomers' kids (what's the demographic term for them, millennials?) identify.
 

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I only looked at the summary, but I'll have to look at the longer document--I'm sure it breaks this stuff down by age and education level. It would be interesting to see how boomers' kids (what's the demographic term for them, millennials?) identify.

What is strange about the millenials (that's the term) is that its not their birth cohort (unlike baby boomers) that defines them, but the moment the began arriving in college. They seem to be a generation defined as much by the impenetrability of their wired lives as by the circumstances of their origin. It's as if they were born of the etherial media in which they are embedded as much as by the belated sexual efforts of their relatively colorless late boomer progenetors.
 

Guffy

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They seem to be a generation defined as much by the impenetrability of their wired lives as by the circumstances of their origin. It's as if they were born of the etherial media in which they are embedded as much as by the belated sexual efforts of their relatively colorless late boomer progenetors.

och! Higgins that was harsh. but seriously this is a very good and telling quote. I've done a little bit of study on this generation and they have some very interesting ideas.

Is this what the bible talks about in Revelation as the Leaodecian church? "Neither cold nor hot and he'll spew them out of his mouth?"

No James81 these churches are also called Bible Churches. They are not affiliated with a main stream denomination. They are usually centered around a single individual. Some times they have a connection to a denomination but have broken away for some reason. This is of course a broad generalization.

The Leaodecian church on the other hand had lost their passion for their first love, Jesus
 

Higgins

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och! Higgins that was harsh. but seriously this is a very good and telling quote. I've done a little bit of study on this generation and they have some very interesting ideas.

As a very early Baby Boomer, I have to say that the millenials are the most happily eccentric and brilliant bunch to come along since my generation. It's true they are a bit narcissistic at least to the untutored outward eye, but this seems quite adaptive and is generally part of their often ironic self-conscious charm.
 

Guffy

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I haven't heard "millenials" (makes you wonder how much studying I've done) but it fits. Their are a lot of things I like about this group, but somethings drive me batty.

Most of my study has been as it relates to spirituality.
 

Higgins

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I haven't heard "millenials" (makes you wonder how much studying I've done) but it fits. Their are a lot of things I like about this group, but somethings drive me batty.

Most of my study has been as it relates to spirituality.

The millenials I know best are an astoundingly sophisticated crew and they don't seem to be as quick to dismiss spiritual pre-occupations as did the youth of my youth, who were fiendishly hedonistic in all contexts. Of course we had the numbers and few adult supervisors while the millenials are perhaps the most over-supervised generation of all time.
 

TerzaRima

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I would bet that as children, the millennials were less likely to attend church regularly, or to receive religious education. Boomer reaction to orthodoxy, new family constellations where Mom remarries and stops going to church, etc.

It's true they are a bit narcissistic at least to the untutored outward eye, but this seems quite adaptive and is generally part of their often ironic self-conscious charm

You know I love the medical students, but I'd say this is spot on. People, I get it. Your parents and Barney the dinosaur said you were special every single day and you really took it to heart. By the same token, they have a level of confidence that I would have killed for at age 23, so. But we're getting off religious life a bit.
 

ColoradoGuy

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Here's another recent snapshot, showing percentage by age of Americans identifying as Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, or none. The age range is 18 (far left bar) to 89 (far right bar). You can see that the younger ages are less likely to choose Protestant and more likely to chose "none." Catholic and Jewish look about the same.
religionyoung.jpg
 

Gehanna

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There is a problem with statistics and religion in that they both serve man. Not God.

I highly recommend inserting the words, "of the group of people who responded to the survey,..." in the sentences of statistical conclusions drawn from data obtained through a voluntary response sample.

Sincerely,
Gehanna
 

Guffy

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remember when we talk about statistics and generalities we are talking about patterns, not individuals, no individual matches the generalities.
 

AMCrenshaw

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There is a problem with statistics and religion in that they both serve man. Not God.

I'm not sure I'd agree, even in those days I might have called myself Christian. But consider that knowledge of creation might be linked to a knowledge of the Creator.

AMC
 

ColoradoGuy

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There is a problem with statistics and religion in that they both serve man. Not God.

I highly recommend inserting the words, "of the group of people who responded to the survey,..." in the sentences of statistical conclusions drawn from data obtained through a voluntary response sample.

Sincerely,
Gehanna
The polling science of the longer link in my opening post is actually quite good. Read it if you want the details, but I think their sampling technique is solid.
 

maxmordon

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From what I understand, this category grew tremendously in the 1990's, so that's really saying something.

Pretty soon, we'll break the 1% mark!


*sigh*


ETA: Where do they get off calling "self-described pagans" a New Religious Movement? The OED originally said that "Pagan" was a term of Christian origin, basically used to denote, well, heathens, but in the book listing corrections and additions to the OED, it said that the term "Pagan" was actually much older than previously believed. It was originally used by "self-described pagans" who were, to quote (albeit from memory), "polytheistic nature worshippers". NRM my tookus. :D

From the Royal Dictionary of Spanish Language, translated by me:

From the Latin Paganus, villager, from Pagus, village. It took the meaning of Gentile in Ecclesiastical Latin because of the rural resitence of Christianization
 
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