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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 8, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 36
White Christians now a minority in the USA, new survey says
Section One
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White Christians now a minority in the USA, new survey says

LGBT people and Washingtonians particularly irreligious

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

White Christians - once the dominant ethno-religious group in the country - now make up less than half the population.

That is the dramatic conclusion of a new study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). The PRRI is a nonprofit and nonpartisan polling organization that specializes in studies of American values.

According to its latest data, released September 6, only 43% of Americans identify as white and Christian. Only 30% identify as white and Protestant. Twenty-four percent are 'religiously unaffiliated.'

In comparison, 81% of Americans identified as white Christians in 1976, and 55% said they were white Protestants.

As recently as 2007, 39 states had majority white Christian populations, but today fewer than half of the states are majority white Christian.

The trend away from religious identification is especially marked among LGBT people. Forty-six percent of Americans who identify as LGBT are religiously unaffiliated, the survey found.

Washington state is one of the least religious in the country, with 35% of our population saying they are religiously unaffiliated. Vermont and Oregon are even less religious, with 41% of Vermonters and 36% of Oregonians claiming no religious affiliation. Hawaii (34% religiously unaffiliated), Colorado (33%), and New Hampshire (33%) round out the list of least religious states.

Today only 17% of Americans identify as white evangelical Protestant, down from 23% in 2006. Over the same period, white Catholics dropped five percentage points from 16% to 11%. White mainline Protestants have also declined, from 18% to 13%.

Of the 'unaffiliated,' 58% identify as secular - in other words, not religious at all. Sixteen percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans reported that they still identify as a 'religious person' even if they don't identify with a particular denomination or sect.

Those identifying as atheists or agnostics account for only 27% of all religiously unaffiliated Americans.

Among those with religion, more people are identifying as non-Christian, but they still represent less than one in ten Americans combined. Jewish Americans constitute 2% of the public, while Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus each constitute only 1% of the public. All other non-Christian religions constitute an additional 1%.

New York is the most diverse state when it comes to religious groups, and Mississippi is the least. Sixty percent of Mississipians are Protestant, and 60% of the Protestants in Mississippi are Baptist.

White Christians have become a minority in the Democratic Party. Only 29% of Democrats today are white Christians, compared to 50% just one decade earlier. Only 14% of young Democrats aged 18 to 29 identify as white Christians. Forty percent identify as religiously unaffiliated.

White evangelical Protestants remain the dominant religious force in the GOP, however. Thirty-five percent of all Republicans identify as white evangelical Protestants, a proportion that has remained roughly stable over the past decade. Seventy-three percent of Republicans belong to a white Christian religious group.

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