Study: White Christian Americans are an Endangered Species


“White Christians now make up significantly less than one-half – only 43% – of the U.S. population. Four decades ago, they represented 81% of the country’s residents. These statistics pointing to the weakening of Christianity in American life are among the many contained in a new report released September 6 by PRRI – the Public Religion Research Institute, a polling organization in Washington, D.C. that describes itself as non-profit, independent, and non-partisan.

The 48-page report, America’s Changing Religious Identity, is based on “findings from PRRI’s 2016 American Values Atlas, the single largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted.” The first sentence of the report’s executive summary highlights the findings: “The American religious landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation.”

Among the report’s main conclusions:

Today, only 43% of Americans identify as white and Christian, and only 30% as white and Protestant. In 1976, roughly eight in ten (81%) Americans identified as white and identified with a Christian denomination, and a majority (55%) were white Protestants.

White evangelical Protestants are in decline – along with white mainline Protestants and white Catholics. . . Fewer than one in five (17%) Americans are white evangelical Protestant, but they accounted for nearly one-quarter (23%) in 2006. Over the same period, white Catholics dropped five percentage points from 16% to 11%, as have white mainline Protestants, from 18% to 13%.

Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists are all far younger than white Christian groups. At least one-third of Muslims (42%), Hindus (36%), and Buddhists (35%) are under the age of 30. Roughly one-third (34%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans are also under 30. In contrast, white Christian groups are aging. Slightly more than one in ten white Catholics (11%), white evangelical Protestants (11%), and white mainline Protestants (14%) are under 30. Approximately six in ten white evangelical Protestants (62%), white Catholics (62%), and white mainline Protestants (59%) are at least 50 years old.

Nearly half (46%) of Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are religiously unaffiliated.”

More about the study here.