|A UMNS photo by Chuck Arlund.
Aug. 2, 2004
By Chris Herlinger *
YORK (ENI)--A long-standing feature of U.S. religious life - a
Protestant majority - may become a thing of the past, a new survey has
“Since colonial times the United States
has been a Protestant nation. But perhaps as early as this year (2004),
the country will for the first time no longer have a Protestant
majority,” the survey by the National Opinion Research Center, based at
the University of Chicago, found.
The number of
those identifying themselves as Protestant, already declining in recent
years, is expected to drop below 50 percent if present trends continue,
the survey results were announced on July 20. A Protestant majority may
have already vanished in the two years since the survey was
groups covered by the term Protestant include Anglican, Baptist,
Congregational, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Quaker
“The recent Protestant decline comes in
large part from the loss of younger adherents and a related drop in the
retention rate,” the survey stated. It added that a number of factors
“indicate that the Protestant share of the population will continue to
shrink and they will soon lose their majority position in American
The survey of more than 2,650 respondents in
2002 found the number of those identifying themselves as Protestant
dropped from 63 percent to 52 percent between 1993 and 2002. At
the same time, those saying they had no formal religious ties or
identification increased from 9 percent to nearly 14 percent.
factors cited in the study for the decline of Protestant identification
included increased numbers of immigrants from non-Protestant countries
and the fact that fewer people in the United States are being raised as
The so-called “retention rate”
for Protestants has also been dropping. From 1973 up to 1993, nine out
of 10 Protestants raised in a Protestant home remained Protestant;
however, now less than
83 percent remain Protestant as adults.
Protestants have been a majority in the United States, Roman Catholics
have constituted the nation's biggest single denominational
The report can be found at http://www.norc.uchicago.edu/issues/PROTSGO8.pdf .
*Ecumenical News International distributed this article.