No Longer a US Majority: Protestants

One-fifth of US doesn't identify with any traditional religion

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 9, 2012 6:41 AM CDT | Updated Oct 9, 2012 7:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US population is no longer dominated by Protestants, a Pew study finds: They account for just 48% of us. And while 79% of the US remains affiliated with a traditional religious group, nearly a fifth of American adults—and a third of those under 30—don't identify with any single traditional denomination. That doesn't mean they're not religious, the Washington Post notes; plenty pray and have religious routines. This group is chock full of Democrats: 68% support the party, making up its biggest faith constituency.

Indeed, the study shows how closely religious and political affiliations have become intertwined. Some 24% of Democrats are in the "no traditional religion" group, the study finds, while 34% of Republicans are white evangelicals. In the past, the Post notes, congregations were politically diverse; not so much today. In fact, Americans tend to choose where to worship based on political leanings, instead of the other way around, according to sociologists. As for the trend away from traditional religion among under-30s, "we think it's a reaction to the religious right," says an expert, noting that conservative opposition to gay rights is a key driver of religious choices. Still, "religion as a whole in America has been astonishingly resilient."

Just 48% of the US is now Protestant, a study says.
Just 48% of the US is now Protestant, a study says.   (Shutterstock)
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