Ohio State University researchers are reporting that the Amish may be one of the fastest growing religious group in America. It’s arguable that that distinction currently belongs to the non-religious:
A new census of the Amish population in the United States estimates that a new Amish community is founded, on average, about every 3 ½ weeks, and shows that more than 60 percent of all existing Amish settlements have been founded since 1990.
This pattern suggests the Amish are growing more rapidly than most other religions in the United States, researchers say. Unlike other religious groups, however, the growth is not driven by converts joining the faith, but instead can be attributed to large families and high rates of baptism.
The researchers who compiled the census used a variety of sources to produce this count, including current and archival settlement directories and statistics from publications that cover some of the largest Amish communities, as well as by calculating estimates based on research-based facts about Amish settlement characteristics.
“The Amish are one of the fastest-growing religious groups in North America,” said Joseph Donnermeyer, professor of rural sociology in Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, who led the census project. “They’re doubling their population about every 21 to 22 years, primarily because they produce large families and the vast majority of daughters and sons remain in the community as adults baptized into the faith, starting their own families and sustaining their religious beliefs and practices.”
It still seems like a leap to say growth will continue at the same pace indefinitely…
Also, keep in mind there are only about 250,000 Amish according to the U.S. Census — a fraction of a fraction of the population. Rapid growth for them doesn’t necessarily mean they’re taking over anytime soon — unless there’s reason to think the growth will be sustained.
(Thanks to Ashley for the link!)