Health & Spirit

White Christians are no longer US majority

Stan Finger, The Wichita Eagle on

Published in Religious News

Nationwide, little more than one-third of Catholics under the age of 30 are white and non-Hispanic, while 52 percent are Hispanic.

The religious groups in America with the largest segment of followers under 30 are all non-Christian, according to the survey. Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are all far younger than white Christian groups.

At least one-third of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, as well as religiously unaffiliated Americans, are under the age of 30. In contrast, barely more than 10 percent of white Catholics, white evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants are under 30.

Nearly two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants and white Catholics are at least 50 years old, along with nearly 60 percent of mainline Protestants.

Even as demographics shift, however, Christian denominations are still the dominant presence in America. Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus each constitute only 1 percent of the public.

Demographics aren't the only things evolving, Bammel said. Definitions are, too.

Members used to have to go to church pretty much every week to be considered "active." But people today consider themselves active church members even if they only go once or twice a month, he said.

Bammel conceded that he's always skeptical of surveys, but the institute's survey isn't raising many flags for him.

"I would probably say it's fairly accurate," Bammel said. "There don't seem to be as many people in church as there used to be, I don't know that that's necessarily a bad thing."

While those who were part of The Greatest Generation went to church in droves, Bammel said, "perhaps people went to church more as a social thing" then.

On the other hand, he said, far fewer millennials are coming to church.

"The millennials that are actively involved are very valuable to a church," Bammel said. "They're very serious about their faith.

"Maybe the quantity has declined, but the quality has increased significantly."

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