Posts Tagged ‘Catholics and Protestants’

The USA’s Christian majority is shrinking

May 13, 2015

PF_15.05.05_RLS2_1_310pxAlthough there are more avowed Christians in the United States than in any other country, the U.S. Christian majority in the United States is shrinking, Pew Research Center reports.

About 5 million fewer Americans identified themselves as Christians in 2014 than in 2007, and the percentage of self-identified Christians declined by nearly 8 percentage points.

The decline was most noticeable in the Millennial generation—those born in the period from 1981 to 1996.   Only 56 percent of this group identified themselves as Christian in Pew’s 2014 poll.

Evangelical Protestants are the strongest segment of American Christianity.  They grew in absolute numbers from 2007 and 2014, and declined only slightly as a percentage of the U.S. population.

But they are growing at a less rapid rate that the religiously unaffiliated.  And growth in that segment comes from the “nothing in particular” group, not the avowed atheists or agnostics.   I suppose this includes a lot of people who say they are spiritual, but not religious.

I don’t claim to know why this is so.

I can think of possible reasons.  One is the sexual revolution and the decline in the belief that marriage is a sacrament received through a church wedding.  Another is the growing awareness that scientific belief is incompatible with the literal belief in the Bible.  A third is the identification of Christianity in the public mind with conservative politics.  The so-called religious right, which is strongest among evangelical Protestants, is a backlash against these trends.

I would be interested in your thoughts.

For the full Pew report, click on America’s Changing Religious Landscape.

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Contraception: the religious divide

February 11, 2012

I can remember when opposition to artificial birth control was one of the bright-line differences between American Catholics and Protestants, and consequently good Catholics were known for their large families.

Evidently all this has changed. Survey data indicates that the main opposition to contraception in the United States comes from white evangelical Protestants.  (It would be interesting to know the survey data for black evangelical Protestants.)

Roman Catholic bishops object to health insurance coverage for contraception in Catholic hospitals, universities and charities, even when they serve both Catholics and non-Catholics and employ both Catholics and non-Catholics.  But it would appear their ruling is more in line with the sentiments of white evangelicals than it is for members of their own flocks.

I think woman have a moral right to choose whether to become pregnant or not, and children have a right to parents who want them and are able to care for them.  Teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are at 40-year lows because, in my opinion, of widespread knowledge and use of contraception.  This is a good thing, not a bad thing.  If you’re really concerned about the number of illegitimate children in the United States, you shouldn’t be trying to deny woman access to contraception.

Contraceptive use among American women who have had sex, 2006-2008.                          Source: Guttmacher Institute

Click on Women Who Use Birth Control Are the 99 Percent for more charts from Mother Jones.