- Published on Monday, 22 February 2010 11:18
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 3911
Figures published in the National Council of Churches yearbook for 2010 give Church memberships in the USA in 2008. While total membership is up slightly (0.5%), some Churches are down. The most interesting is that the Catholic Church continues to dominate in numbers and is actually growing. Catholics are 46% of the total US Church membership. There are more Catholics in the US than the total population of Italy.
|Church||Members||Change from 2007|
|The Catholic Church||68.1 million||+ 1.49%.|
|- Southern Baptist Convention||16.2 million||- 0.24%.|
|- United Methodist Church||7.8 million||- 0.98%.|
|- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints||5.9 million||+ 1.71%.|
|- Church of God in Christ||5.5 million||no change *|
|- National Baptist Convention||5 million||no change *|
|- Evangelical Lutheran Church||4.6 million||- 1.62%.|
|- National Baptist Convention||3.5 million||no change *|
|- Assemblies of God||2.9 million||+ 1.27%.|
|- Presbyterian Church||2.8 million||- 3.3%.|
|Total non-Catholic||54.2 million||+ 0.14%|
|Other Religions||25.1 million||- 0.75%|
|Total||147.4 million||+ 0.5%|
* 11 of the 25 largest churches did not report updated figures: Church of God in Christ; National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.; National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.; African Methodist Episcopal Church; National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Churches of Christ; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc.; Baptist Bible Fellowship International; and Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.
For comparison, the US population increased 0.93% in the same period with a total estimated population of 304,374,846 in July 2008 (US Census Bureau).
The National Council of Churches comments:
The Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, editor of the annual Yearbook since 1998, noted that many observers have attributed accelerated membership decline of some churches to "an increasing secularization of American postmodern society, and its disproportionate impact on liberal religious groups."
But Lindner advised caution in assessing the causes of decline. "American society as a whole has not experienced the kind and rate of secularization so clearly demonstrated during the last quarter century in Western Europe. Indeed, American church membership trends have defied gravity particularly where the Pentecostal experience is included."
In addition, the largest plurality of immigrants to the U.S. in the last 50 years have been Christian in their religious affiliation, Lindner notes.
"In an era in which we have come to expect the inevitable advance of secularism in the U.S., the influx of robust Christian communities among new immigrants once again amends the topographical map."
Crosswalk.com quoted Jack Haberer, editor of the independent Presbyterian Outlook magazine, who said that the trend has been long in coming, prompted by Baby Boomers who went off to college and confronted "the Beatles and rock 'n' roll and post-Vietnam distrust of bureaucracies and a kind of an anti-traditionalist youth movement."
"Baby Boomers who are also Christians, in general, have been drawn more to churches that are more informal, less institutional and more rock 'n' roll-ish," Haberer said. "Presbyterians and other mainline denominations have been very slow in reading those trends and thinking through a way to accommodate without compromising the theological integrity."
I think he's saying that Prebyterians should get more into Rock 'n' Roll. I would say they need to get more "commercial" - get some marketing!
I don’t know what these numbers mean – but I thought they were interesting. A comparison with world figures just released by the vatican is also interesting. If US Catholics are increasing, then Canada and the rest of the "Americas" must be down.