If you’re wondering “How many Christians are in the United States,” the answer may surprise you. While Christians currently outnumber non-Christians by a two-to-one margin, the percentage of non-Christians in the US is expected to double by 2070, reaching 12% to 13% of the total population. The number of religiously unaffiliated people is also growing.
Christianity in the United States
The Christian population in the United States is estimated to be around 326 million, or nearly a third of the total population. Christianity is the largest religion in the United States, accounting for more than half of all Americans who identify as religious.
There are several reasons why Christianity is so prevalent in the United States. First, Christianity is an immigrant religion. More than two-thirds of Christians in the United States were born outside of the country. Second, Christianity is a very decentralized religion. Unlike many other countries where there are centralized religious institutions, Christianity in the United States is spread out amongst a variety of individual churches and denominations. This allows for a greater degree of flexibility and diversity within the faith community, which may appeal to some Americans and repell others.
Despite its widespread presence, there are some challenges facing Christianity in America today. One issue that has emerged in recent years is the rise of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments across much of American society. This has had a negative impact on both Muslim-Christian relations and Christian-Jewish relations, as well as overall public perceptions of Christianity in general. Additionally, secularism – or the decline of belief in traditional religious values – has been gaining ground in America over recent decades, which may be impacting Christians’ ability to proselytize effectively.
Demographics of Christians in the United States
The Pew Research Center has estimated that there are about 246 million Christians in the United States, constituting 78.1% of the population (2013 estimates).
Among major religious groups, Christians are the largest and most numerous. In 2013, Christianity was the main religion of 52.9% of Americans ages 18 and older, according to the Pew Research Center. Muslims (2.6%) and Hindus (2.1%) were second and third, respectively. All other major religions accounted for less than 1%.
When it comes to religious affiliations, white evangelical Protestants are by far the largest group of Christians in the United States. Some 57% of all American evangelicals identify as white Evangelical Protestants, while only 23% identify as mainline Protestant or Catholic. Black Protestants (15%) and Catholics (14%) are also sizable groups, but they account for a smaller share of Americans overall….
There is no single answer to questions about who these 246 million American Christians are or what they believe…. American Christians come from all walks of life—from urban centers to rural communities—and range in age from newborns to seniors…. In terms of their beliefs, there is no single profile for U.S. Christian identification…. Roughly one-in-ten Americans identifies as atheist or agnostic (10%). And about six-in-ten U.S. Christians say that religion is very important in their lives—a higher percentage than among any other major religious group….
Religion and Politics in the United States
The United States is home to a variety of religious denominations, all of which have had a significant impact on American politics. The majority of Americans identify as Christians, though there are also sizable populations of Muslims, Jews, and Hindus. In recent decades, the presence of non-Christian religions has increased dramatically in the United States. Today, there are about 1.6 billion people living in the United States, and according to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, about half of U.S. adults (51%) say they have no religion. This represents an increase from 29% who said this in 2007.
There is no one answer to why religion has become more visible in American politics over the past several decades. Some experts argue that it is simply part of a larger trend toward more open and diverse societies, while others suggest that it has something to do with the increasing number of immigrants and refugees who are bringing their own religious beliefs with them. Whatever the reasons may be, religion continues to play a significant role in American politics.
Christians outnumber Christians by a two-to-one margin
The United States is home to more Christians than any other country in the world, with a large majority of the adult population identifying with some branch of the Christian faith. However, according to a Pew Research Center study, Christians are losing ground as a proportion of the population. In fact, over the last seven years, the number of Americans who identify as Christians fell by eight percentage points.
The number of white people who identify as Christian has decreased by nine percentage points between 2007 and 2018, and the percentage of white mainline Protestants and Catholics has declined from an all-time high of 18% in 2008 to just 8% in 2014. However, the proportion of people who identify as religious “nones” has increased, from one percent to four percent in eight years.
In terms of religious diversity, Christians are more numerous among those ages 18 to 29. Although white Christians outnumber non-white Christians, this trend is largely offset by sharp declines in the proportion of people in the other religious categories. Among Americans ages 18 and under, approximately one-third are Christians. Among the age groups 50-64, one-quarter of adults are religiously unaffiliated.
The decline in Christian church membership is likely due to generational replacement. While younger generations are more likely to identify as “nones,” older generations are disavowing their associations with organized religion. As a result, one-third of older Millennials, those who were between 18 and 26, say they are not religious. Similarly, the trend is increasing among Generation Xers and Baby Boomers.
However, Americans are becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse. One-third of non-Hispanic whites, mainline Protestants, and Catholics are Christians, while one-fifth of Hispanics are Protestants. The share of people who identify as Christian is smaller among Christians of other racial groups, including white evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, and Jews.
Non-Christians will double in proportion to represent 12% to 13% of the US population by 2070
In the United States today, Christians represent about half of the total population. But by 2070, the percentage of non-Christians could reach as high as 35%. This is because Christians have become more disaffiliated over recent generations. But there is a way to curb this trend.
In a scenario where non-Christians become 12% to 13% of the US population, the share of Christians in the US declines by half. Non-Christians increase in percentage mainly due to migration, aging and low birth rates. A majority of non-Christians will be in Europe, Asia and China.
As more non-Christians enter the US, the proportion of white population will decrease. As a result, the older population will outnumber the young. By 2060, the proportion of non-Christians will be between 12 and 13% of the US population. In the coming decades, non-Christians will be the largest minority group in the US.
In 2070, Christians of all ages will decrease from 64% to between 35% and 52%. Non-Christians will reach 41% and will make up 12% to 13% of the US population. The rest of the population will be non-affiliated, and the numbers will continue to rise.
The pace of disaffiliation has accelerated in recent decades. During the past decade, half of American youth raised in a Christian household had already abandoned their religious affiliation. By 2070, the rate of non-Christians among young adults would drop below the half of Christians, and Christians would account for 35%. The current rate of 21% among young adults would drop to 2%. This is the fastest rate of disaffiliation among the two groups in the United States.
According to the latest World Population Prospects report, Muslims will eventually overtake Christians as the world’s largest religious group. While Christianity has been the dominant religion in Europe, the numbers of Christians are decreasing in that region. In 2010, seventy percent of Europeans were Christian, but by 2050, that number is projected to be down to 65 percent.
Church membership declines within Protestantism
The decline of church membership in Protestantism has been a topic of much debate. Some say the decline is a result of evangelicals taking over the mainline denominations, while others argue the decline is a product of mainline Protestants becoming more conservative. Regardless of the cause, the trend is undeniable.
The recent scandals in the Roman Catholic Church have shaken the confidence of Americans in organized religion. As a result, Protestant and Catholic memberships are declining more rapidly. Since the late 1990s, Catholic membership has declined by 18 percent, while Protestant membership is down by 9 percent. The recent scandals involving major-league Protestant leaders have also impacted the trust of many people.
According to UCC statistics, the UCC had 824,866 members in 2018, while the Disciples of Christ had 380,000. However, the UCC is among the smaller mainline denominations. In 2018, the UCC lost 3.4% of its membership. Local congregations lost about two members each, while average attendance declined by two. In terms of number of members, the UCC represents only a small fraction of the American population.
While population replacement can partially explain the decline of church membership, a lack of church attendance is a major contributing factor. In the United States, church membership rates have declined by more than a decade, especially among millennials. Additionally, the number of people identifying themselves as “nones” has increased significantly.
Despite the decline in church attendance, some congregations have begun to see a significant increase in baptisms. While overall church attendance is down, the number of Christians in rural areas has increased. In Lovington, the number of worshipers has gone from 110 to 75 over the past decade, and it has since rebounded to 100, with several new families. While Hillcrest Baptist Church has experienced challenges drawing people together, it has recently completed a private Christian school to address the issue.
Growth of religiously unaffiliated people
The percentage of Americans who are not affiliated with a religion is growing rapidly. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, it is projected to double by 2070. According to the study, the majority of Americans are still practicing their faith, but fewer are identifying as religious.
These “nones” have a varied range of beliefs, including agnosticism and atheism. Many are actively involved in service and advocacy organizations, forming a powerful collective voice on social issues. Many are also getting involved in the media, as they represent a large, young, secular demographic.
The decline in religious affiliation is a consequence of a secularizing culture. Although American churches have been very successful in evangelism, missions, and community service over the past four decades, they were not able to hold back the secularization of the nation. The Christian right, in particular, felt threatened by the rise of the liberal political movement, and thus, turned to authoritarian politicians to save their own religion.
The growing number of Americans who identify themselves as nonreligious, but still believe in God, is a troubling trend. Despite their lack of faith, many of them still attend church services at least a few times a year. It is estimated that one in six Americans is nonreligious. This trend shows no sign of slowing down. The number of nonreligious Americans is growing faster than the rate of religiously affiliated adults in the United States
In 2012, one-third of American adults identified as “none” and that percentage increased to nearly a quarter of one percent by the year 2000. While some survey participants may be reluctant to identify as nonreligious, the numbers indicate that Americans are increasingly becoming religiously unaffiliated and identifying as agnostic.
Christian disaffiliation by age 30
Recent research has revealed a significant decline in the proportion of young adults who identify themselves as Christian. Since the 1990s, this trend has been growing, with younger adults disaffiliating from Christianity at higher rates than older people. The Center for Religious Research estimates that more than a quarter of people who were raised as a Christian disaffiliate by age 30.
A similar trend is seen among adults who were born Christian. Until the mid-1990s, the likelihood of a young person disaffiliating from Christianity was low. However, it began to increase after that point. In addition, the rate of switching religious affiliations among young adults increased dramatically.
By 2070, the rate of disaffiliation would have reached its highest level yet. By then, Christians would account for less than half of the population. Meanwhile, the number of non-Christians would rise to almost half. This shift would be the greatest of any projection scenario.
The decline of the number of Christians in the United States is accompanied by the increase of non-Christians. The average age of a Christian is 43 years, while the average age of a non-Christian is 10 years older. Pew has also projected the future of religions around the world, adjusting models based on the different regions. According to their models, Muslim and Christian populations are the youngest and lowest in fertility, respectively.
The results of this study indicate that a growing number of young Americans will be disaffiliated from their faith by age 30. The rate of disaffiliation will increase with each successive cohort, with 5% of the population remaining Christian after age 30. By 2050, Christian retention will only be 50% among both men and women.
According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 22 percent of Americans identify as evangelical Protestants, which is the highest percentage of any Christian group. Additionally, a 2016 study by The Barna Group found that among American adults who identify as Christian, 43 percent self-identify as “born again or evangelical.” These findings suggest that there are a significant number of Christians in the United States and that they are likely growing in numbers.