Tuesday, October 9, 2012

US Protestants no longer a majority, says study

    Tuesday, October 09, 2012   No comments

For the first time since European settlement the US does not have a Protestant majority, according to a study, with the number of Americans claiming no religious affiliation on the rise.

The percentage of Protestant adults in the US has reached a low of 48%, the first time Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has reported with certainty that the number has fallen below 50%.

The drop has long been anticipated and comes at a time when there are no Protestants on the supreme court and the Republicans have their first presidential ticket with no Protestant nominees.

Among the reasons for the change are the growth in nondenominational Christians who can no longer be categorised as Protestant, and a spike in the number of American adults who say they have no religion. The Pew study, released on Tuesday, found about 20% of Americans said they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15% in the past five years.

Scholars have long debated whether people who say they no longer belong to a religious group should be considered secular. While the category as defined by Pew researchers includes atheists, it also encompasses majorities of people who say they believe in God, and a notable minority who pray daily or consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious".

Still, Pew found overall that most of the unaffiliated were not actively seeking another religious home, indicating that their ties with organised religion were permanently broken.

Growth among those with no religion has been a major preoccupation of American faith leaders, who worry that the US, a highly religious country, would go the way of western Europe, where church attendance has plummeted.


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