WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With aging white Christian groups now accounting for fewer than half of the public and non-Christian groups constituting the country's youngest religious communities, the future of American religion will likely look strikingly different than its past. A massive new survey out today from PRRI reveals seismic shifts in the religious landscape over the last few decades, including the sharp growth of the religiously unaffiliated—a category that includes atheists, agnostics, and those who do not identify with any particular religion—along with racial and ethnic changes that are transforming nearly all major Christian denominations.
These are among the major findings from "America's Changing Religious Identity," a report released today by PRRI. The report is based on findings from PRRI's 2016 American Values Atlas, the single largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted, based on interviews with more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states conducted across 2016. The report includes detailed information about religious affiliation, denominational ties, political affiliation, and other demographic characteristics.
"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 in the U.S.," says Robert P. Jones, PRRI 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."
Today, only 43% of Americans identify as white Christian, and only 30% as white Protestant. In 1976, roughly eight in ten (81%) Americans identified as white and Christian, and a majority (55%) were white Protestants.
Fewer than one in five (17%) Americans now identify as white evangelical Protestant, but they accounted for nearly one-quarter (23%) of the public just a decade ago in 2006. Over the same period, white Catholics dropped five percentage points from 16% to 11%, and white mainline Protestants have shed an equal number, decreasing from 18% to 13%.
More evidence that America's future is less white and less Christian: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and the religiously unaffiliated are all far younger than white Christian groups. At least one-third of Muslims (42%), Hindus (36%), Buddhists (35%) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (34%) are under the age of 30. Slightly more than one in ten white Catholics (11%), white evangelical Protestants (11%), and white mainline Protestants (14%) are under 30.
The report also explores the shifting cultural center of the Catholic Church, the nation's most and least religiously diverse states, and the religious profiles of America's racial and ethnic groups.
View the topline, methodology, and additional analysis here: https://www.prri.org/research/american-religious-landscape-christian-religiously-unaffiliated/