We all know religion is changing, now we have the pictures to prove it.
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An article in USA Today features key findings from the new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) released today. It is based on 113,000 interviews, updated with 50,000 more in 2001 and now 54,000 in 2008. Because the U.S. Census does not ask about religion, the ARIS survey was the first comprehensive study of how people identify their spiritual expression.
Major takeaway? Nearly all religious denominations have lost ground - often dramatic percentages - since 1990. The religious "Nones" (those indicating no particular religious affiliation) has grown.
From the article:
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• So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, "the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion," the report concludes.
• Catholic strongholds in New England and the Midwest have faded as immigrants, retirees and young job-seekers have moved to the Sun Belt. While bishops from the Midwest to Massachusetts close down or consolidate historic parishes, those in the South are scrambling to serve increasing numbers of worshipers.
• Baptists, 15.8% of those surveyed, are down from 19.3% in 1990. Mainline Protestant denominations, once socially dominant, have seen sharp declines: The percentage of Methodists, for example, dropped from 8% to 5%.
• The percentage of those who choose a generic label, calling themselves simply Christian, Protestant, non-denominational, evangelical or "born again," was 14.2%, about the same as in 1990.
• Jewish numbers showed a steady decline, from 1.8% in 1990 to 1.2% today. The percentage of Muslims, while still slim, has doubled, from 0.3% to 0.6%. Analysts within both groups suggest those numbers understate the groups' populations.
The USA Today article includes some nice charts and graphs. Also, the full report is online.