By Jonathan Merritt, Religion News Service with BJC Staff Reports
The notion of America as a mostly white, mostly Christian country is rapidly becoming a fact for the history books.
“The U.S. religious landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation that is fundamentally reshaping American politics and culture,” said Dan Cox, research director for Public Religion Research Institute.
In February, PRRI released the American Values Atlas, an interactive online tool that compiles data about Americans’ opinions, identities, and values. One of the biggest takeaways of this year’s study was that, for the first time ever, America is not a majority Protestant nation.
Part of this shift is due to the growing number of religiously unaffiliated Americans, now at 22 percent nationally and 34 percent of young people.
The study also revealed that in 19 states, white Christians are now a minority. The list of states where this is the case includes a few surprises. Several Bible Belt states such as Georgia (No. 16) made the list; Texas (No. 7) had the same population of white Christians as New York (No. 5).
While one might want to blame these shifts on “secularism,” one force at work seems to be America’s increasing ethnic diversity. According to PRRI, Hispanic Catholics are a growing proportion of Catholics and evangelical Protestants are becoming less white.
PRRI’s definition of “white Christian” includes evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Mormons who identify as “white, non-Hispanic.”
According to PRRI, “The American Values Atlas draws upon 50,000 annual telephone interviews among a random sample of Americans to deliver an unprecedented level of detail about the United States’ cultural and religious landscape.” The organization plans to conduct a new wave of interviews each year to update the American Values Atlas so it will stay current with America’s changing demographic, cultural and political landscape.
The atlas can be accessed online at http://ava.publicreligion.org.
See page 2 of this magazine for survey results from The Barna Group on how Americans mark their personal identity.
From the April 2015 Report from the Capital. Click here to read the next article.
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