The United States is the world leader in the variety and number of faiths observed and congregations assembled. The majority of Americans believe in Christianity, but this country is also home to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others as well. How much do you know about religion in America? Keep reading to learn some interesting facts, and if you’re interested in joining a church or needing to know when local services are being held, scan the DexKnows religious services listings.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey lists the country’s major religious traditions. Christians make up 78.4 percent of American adults.It estimates that slightly more than half of Americans consider themselves members of a Protestant church, followed by members of Catholic churches at 23.9 percent. Both the Jewish faith and Mormon churches are at 1.7 percent each while Jehovah’s Witnesses stand at about 0.7 percent.
The Hartford Institute for Religion Research estimates that there are about 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. Protestant and other Christian churches make up about 314,000 of those, while Catholic churches and Orthodox churches total about 24,000. Non-Christian congregations are closer to about 12,000.
While Protestants make up the majority of American adults, the Protestant belief is actually made up of several churches and is not the largest religious denomination. That recognition, according to the 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, belongs to the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church, according to the Yearbook, has about 68.2 million members. The others in the Top 5 are:
The Hartford Institute refers to the Gallup Research Organization, which estimates that about 40 percent of Americans, or about 118 million people, state that they attended worship services during the previous weekend. The institute states that some sociologists question that figure, estimating that the number of church-goers could be as low as around 20 percent.
USA Today, reporting on the 2012 Religious Congregations and Membership Study, states that Mormonism is the fastest growing faith in the United States. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the official Mormon Church, reported 2 million new members and new congregations in 295 counties where there were not congregations a decade ago. Mormons made up the fastest growing group in 26 states.
Second place went to Muslims, which saw growth of a million new followers in 197 counties. Dale Jones, a researcher with the Church of the Nazarene, told USA Today that the growth rate of mosques was about 50 percent.
The Huffington Post reported in 2012 that Mississippi was the most religious state with 59 percent of residents describing themselves as “very religious.” Utah, home of the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came in second with 57 percent.
The site, which used statistics gathered by Gallup, stated that Vermont and New Hampshire were the least religious states. Less than 30 percent of residents in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska considered themselves very religious.
The Pew Forum found that more than 1 in 5 Mormon adults and 15 percent of Muslim adults have more than three children living at home.
Another statistic discovered by the Pew Forum was that nearly half of Hindus in the United States have obtained education beyond a bachelor’s degree. That is followed by a third of Jews and a quarter of Buddhists. In comparison, about 1 in 10 of all Americans have obtained a post-graduate education.
That, Pew reports, would be men. Nearly one in every five men claim no formal religious affiliation (nearly 20%), compared to about 13 percent of women.
More than one-quarter of U.S. adults — 28% — have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion or claimed no religion.
Baptists account for nearly two-thirds of the members of historically black Protestant churches.
Starting in 1850, census takers began asking religious leaders to identify their denomination – such as Methodist, Roman Catholic or Old School Presbyterian. The 1850 census found that there were 18 principal denominations in the U.S.
The U.S. Census Bureau stopped asking questions about religion in the 1950s.
Lutheranism came to the Americas with the earliest settlers, some who were Scandinavian, Dutch and German Lutherans. By the 1620s there were settlements with Lutheran churches and congregations along the Hudson River in what are now the states of New York and New Jersey.
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