Mainline Decline? Yes, Really!

Mainline Decline? Yes, Really! July 7, 2014

From The Atlantic, by Tanya Basu:

The handover in houses of worship across the country is not a straightforward case of an increase in non-Christian immigrants in the United States. In fact, many church sales can be attributed to shifts among Christian denominations.Roman Catholic weekly service attendance has slid from 75 percent in 1955 to 45 percent in the mid-2000s, while Southern Baptist and Evangelical churches have seen big drops in attendance, partially due to a split within the Protestant church between mainline Protestantism and Evangelicals. Meanwhile, Pentecostal churches have seen spikes in attendance.

Much of this shift can be attributed to a growing Latino population. Historically Roman Catholic, nearly one in three Latinos today identify as former Catholics. Ex-Catholics tend to veer in one of two directions: they either become Pentecostals or Evangelical Protestants, or they identify themselves as agnostic or atheist. According to Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion, only 40 percent of Hispanic Catholics attend weekly services; comparatively, 71 percent of Hispanic Evangelical Protestants do so.

Beyond the Christian faith, immigration is shaping the religious landscape of America and influencing the church purchasing process. A recent map from theAssociation of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies of the second most popular religions in states across the country showed that Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism were represented strongly across the country. Though Christianity remains the overwhelmingly dominant religion of choice in the U.S., other faiths are quickly growing, such as Hinduism in Arizona and Delaware and the Baha’i faith in South Carolina.

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