White Christians, long the dominant religious group in the U.S., now account for less than half of all adults living in America, a recently released survey shows.
More than 80 percent of the nation's residents identified as white and Christian 40 years ago, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. In contrast, the institute's 2016 American Values Atlas indicated 43 percent of Americans identifying as white and Christian.
"The church is not the center of family life like it used to be," said Daniel Myers associate pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kan. "We certainly see that and struggle with that all the time."
The 2016 American Values Atlas is the single largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted, according to PRRI. It reflects "a dramatic transformation" in the American religious landscape.
The survey's results are drawn from a sample of more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states and includes information about their religious affiliation, denominational ties and political affiliation, as well as other demographic details. The survey was conducted by phone, including cell phones, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.4 percentage points.
Among the major findings:
Fewer than half of all states are majority white Christian, according to the survey. As recently as 2007, white Christian populations were the majority in 39 states.
White evangelical Protestants, white mainline Protestants and white Catholics have all seen declines in numbers, according to the survey.
Of those polled, 17 percent identified as white evangelical Protestants, 13 percent as white mainline Protestants and 11 percent as white Catholics.
"People just aren't going to church," said Paul Bammel, associate pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita. "It used to be, it wasn't a matter of if you went to church, it was a matter of where you went to church.