Skip to comments.Protestant Churches Disappearing; More Catholics Than Total of All 19 Prot. Denominations Listed
Posted on 03/30/2006 9:45:17 PM PST by dangus
The National Council of Churches' have just reported church membership for the 2006 yearbook. It's quite an interesting picture:
The Catholic Church is the largest and numerically fastest growing church in America, with 67.8 million members, a growth of about 563,000 members.
Many non-denominational churches, not listed in the report, have been growing rapidly in the recent past.
Proportionally, the fastest growing church in America is the Assemblies of God, (10th largest) growing at a 1.81% rate, by adding 50,000 members. That's over twice the growth rate of the Catholic church, but 1/10th of the increase in members of the Catholic Church, because the Assemblies of God is only 4% of the size of the Catholic Church, having 2.78 million members
The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, (4th largest) with nearly twice (6.0 million) members of the Assemblies of God had nearly the same growth rate, 1.74%.
Looking quickly, one might mistakenly think the Orthodox Church in America (24th largest) is growing amazingly quickly. The Council reports 6.4% more members than it reported last year, but this is the first update in many years. Previously, the Orthodox Church in America had reported simply the same rough estimate year after year: 1 million.
Meanwhile, the Council reported the Greek Orthodox Church (17th largest) as having 1.5 million members; the church doesn't report annually, but just a few years ago, it had nearly 2 million members. Of course, that report itself was quite old, so the decline isn't that amazingly fast. Still, unless there is rapid, unforeseen growth in the smaller Orthodox congregations, it means that overall, the Orthodox Church is likely declining, and what few Orthodox are remaining are switching to the more generic Orthodox church.
Many of the Protestant churches in decline are probably no surprise: United Methodist, 3rd largest, down 0.79% to 8.186 million; Evangelical Lutheran, 7th largest, down 1.09% to 4.93 million; Presbyterian Church (USA), 9th largest, down 1.6% to 3.19 million; Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, 14th, down 1.01% to 2.464 million; Episcopal, 15th, down 1.55% to 2.28 million*; American Baptist, down 0.57% to 1.433 million; and, with the fastest collapse of them all, the United Church of Christ, which has made a strong push to present itself as gay-friendly, dropped 2.48% to only 1.266 million.
What may be surprisin are some of the other denominations in decline. Southern Baptists (2nd) are down again, 1.05% to 16.3 million; and Jehovah's Witnesses, (25th) which were growing just last year, dropped a significant 1.07% to 1.03 million.
Five Baptist conventions, mostly black, (ranked 6th, 12th, 13th, 20th, and 22nd) report very old, and very suspect numbers. Totalled, they would be well over 16 million, but they are believed to actually have far, far fewer members, clinging for political purposes to very old, very rough estimates.
Amazingly, not one of the 25 largest denominations in America was a growing Protestant denomination, except for the Assemblies of God which are not always counted as Protestant.
Combined, the 13 reporting churches had a total membership of 118.7 million. The memberships claimed most recently by the 12 churches that did not issue new reports a combined membership of about 30 million, but is probably closer to 20 million. Even with the very possibly significantly exaggerated estimates of these churches included, however, there are now more members in America of the Catholic Church than in all of the 19 Protestant denominations in the top 25 denominations combined!
[*The National Council of Churches reports 2,463,747 members of the Episcopal Church. This is, however, exactly the same number of members reported by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the next largest church, and it creates a data conflict with last years' numbers. The number used last years' numbers as a baseline, and subtracted this years' reported decline. Also, the Episcopal church is not counted among the 17 Protestant denominations, following the practice of the National Council of Churches, the Encyclopedia Britannica, the World Almanac, and many other references.]
Incidentally, all those Mexicans in the news lately are not counted as Catholics unless they are registered with their parishes, so they are not likely to be the predominant source of the Catholic Church's growth.
And why wouldn't they be registered?
Catholics keep out-and proud homosexuals out of the clergy, don't they?
Edits found to late:
"[B]ut is probably closer" should be "but which is probably closer."
And I'm right, my grammatic is wrong. I'm sure of it. It's "The Assemblies of God is," and not "The Assemblies of God are," since "Assemblies" (a plural) is not the subject; "Assemblies of God" is, and that is a singular noun, the name of a single denomination!
Wheres Farrakhan? These numbers arent true we need to march! (Sarcasm on)
I n all honesty how many nondoms are there in this country, many who have left the traditional denominations for various reasons and have gone to the non denominationals churches are not being counted.
1. Because they tend to be afraid that the registration list will be turned over to the government, since they come from a formally anti-clerical state, whose previous ruling party killed thousands of priests and nuns and banned "proselytization."
2. Because very few have retained their Catholicism; most of what is retained has often been degraded to mere superstition.
3. Because many are migrant workers, have families in Mexico, or are dissatisfied with the demeaning, condescending Spanish-language masses offered in America by apostate priests who romanticize about their being oxen, donkeys, and chickens on the altar, and whose idea of a communion hymn is "Allabare, Mi Senior," sung with guitars and maraccas; and, if end up switching to non-denominational and charismatic churches.
I've lived in parishes in New York, Massachusetts, and near DC where the census number of Hispanics outnumbered the number of registered Catholics, yet the total size of the congregations of all masses (including the Spanish-language ones) was about 10:1 "Anglo." (A very insulting term for many of my Irish friends!) I hear the L.A., South Texas and Miami-area (except anti-Communist Cuban exiles) Hispanics are even less religious/Catholic, although I haven't been to those places enough to have a good personal sense.
And yet the Bishops are closing and selling a huge number of small and midsize parishes to raise money to pay off lawyers.
What is posted here fails to mention the Churches of Christ (go to the site to find it), which list 1,500, 000 members and reported holding steady...no statistical decrease or increase. Note that this is NOT the United Church of Christ, which IS mentioned in the posting as having suffered a big decline and is known among other things "for being gay friendly". The Winkler family are members of the Churches of Christ, NOT United Church of Christ, NOR the International Church of Christ(not on the list).
So do I. It seems my whole adult life (15 years), I've seen exploding, new nondenominational communities, but then I go back up to 15 years later, and there are just new nondenominational communities, but no more nondenominational Christians than there were before. I suspect many of their congregants are dissatisfied with their former denominations, and like being able to pick the congregation that believes what they want to believe, but then, after many years, there's really not that much to hold them in.
I know so many non-denominational churches claim that a majority of their members are ex-Catholic. Well, guess what? Catholics are pretty close to a majority of registered Christians in the country, so for a congregation made up mostly of young converts, that makes sense. But I can also tell you that a few of the parishes I've lived in have a very vast number of former former Catholics! Typically, they dropped out of the Catholic church, not having learned much in the dreadfully weak-minded modern CCD books. Then, knowing very little about Jesus or their faith they were attracted to the people making the most noise. But then, once they started doing a lot of their own religious formation (scripture-reading, etc.), they realized that they simply hadn't understood the Catholic faith very well.
Of course, this is all based on a not-terribly-broad personal experience. I've lived in enough places I feel I have a little insight into the religious practices of many Hispanic immigrants (of course, being gross generalizations!). But I haven't lived in the non-denominational "hot-spots." Plus, it's my understandin that a vast proportion of immigrants end up in nondenominational churches, and gosh knows this place is flooded with illegal immigrants. And in cities, sometimes you can't tell a nondenominational church from a check-cashing service or phone-card store unless you happen to walk by during one of their services and hear the music! (This is a reflection of their poverty and a contempt for "trappings", I believe, and is no sign of a lack of reverance.)
I would be very interested to know how many people attend non-denominational churches; but by their very nature, except for the megachurches, they are very difficult to enumerate.
>> And yet the Bishops are closing and selling a huge number of small and midsize parishes to raise money to pay off lawyers. <<
I've lived in Boston. Believe me, those churches are dead. I'd go to a high-noon mass. There would be me, the priest, the lecter, a few old ladies, and a very big, fat fly you can't help noticing because it's the only form of life.
Go figure; child-raping perverts preaching statism from the altar don't effectively maintain church attendance. Who'd've thought? (/sarcasm)
The growth is outside of the cities like Boston where the church-closings are.
Now, of course, it is criminal if churches are being sold off for the money. On the other hand, if they are shutting down the parish and leaving the church for an oratory, that is unfortunate, but understandable given the absence of congregations.
What may be surprisin are some of the other denominations in decline. Southern Baptists (2nd) are down again,
In the South we spell it surpirsin' with an apostrophe.
Hahahehah! I was hopin no-one would notice... :^D
The big growth in the non denominational church was during the Charismatic renewal; many left their churches and went non denominational due to the fact that they were Spirit filled. This is particularly true in the Catholic Church, it seemed like the more ridged and formal the belief system the greater the flight from that system to the nondenominations.
This is not true in rural areas. I am from rural Ohio and know of several small parishes that are being consolidated, closed and closed for the money.
These parishes are small but active. The members (many elderly) now will have to drive many miles to attend services.
Sorry... couldn't help it.
BTW, it's not that the Churches of Christ are holding steady; it's that there is no update. It could be booming or collapsing for all we know. However, most that report such a broad estimate are declining, and clinging to an out-of-date estimate to hide the decline. I can find an old reference to "The Churches of Christ" in my 1997 almanac that lists the congregation at 1.657 million. I'd also like to know the fate of several other small churches, like the Salvation Army, and like those that broke off from larger ones, like the non-Episcopalian Anglicans, the Presbyterian Church in America.
In reference to the Church closings I think demographic shifts are the biggest problems in the older, east coast cities. The 2nd and 3rd generation Irish, Portugese, Italians etc have made it out of the cities and into the suburbs.
I know that in Boston they are having a terrible time with the Catholic schools because the schools are all inner city and the people are in the burbs.
No, in fact it was the liturgical chaos that followed Vatican II that caused folks to look elsewhere. Catholicism is growing again because (some) order has been restored.
In areas that are very orthodox the growth has been almost more than the dioceses have been able to handle.
Actually, you and John are both right. People need security. They need to know that there is a competent authority overseeing things. (Government, of course, is an inherently incompetent authority.)
Picture a 14-year-old girl whose father just found out from the school that she was caught stripping naked in the locker room with some older guy. On some level, she WANTS her father to raise holy hell about what she was doing, to make her afraid of it, to know that he is confident about his morality, to know he will provide consequences. Instead, he just sits quietly, afraid of "losing her."
When finally he finally skips up and lets a trace of his outrage be sensed by her, she hates the contradiction of his scorn, but lack of exercising authority. He is a cowering wimp, and she hates him for it. "Who are you to judge me? I'm a grown up!" she declares with genuine but misdirected fury.
Benedict, then, is like that grandfather (her father's father), who doesn't QUITE feel HE has the authority to lay down the law, but at least can say to her, "He's your father. And you know what you did was positively wrong!"
If she's not too far gone, she will love him for saying that.
(God is the only competent authority to oversee us, of course... but parents can still teach us right from wrong, and Christ founded the church to do just that.)
(Benedict IS like a grandfather here, I believe.. He wants to assert some order in the church, but is concerned that he cannot contradict the local bishops - who have immediate authority through their positions in the office of the apostles - too much, so he moves slowly.)
I just posted the following on the thread about Savage.:
I have no doubt, since the Episcopal church went down the toilet. After being raised as, and a life long Episcopalian, I left them over six years ago.
Here in Slovakia, the Catholic Church is very strong.
In Bratislava, I have a choice of over 10 different beautiful Catholic churches, all within a 5 minute walk of each other.
Salvation is not about numbers.
Isn't the RC church like the Mafia, once you are on the books, you never leave?
OK, but what about us non-religious? Are we growing? Am I still counted as "Catholic" by this unofficial religious census because I was registered at a Church as recently as five years ago?
They have to go and get registered. If they don't they aren't in the count.
Same, I have heard, with the LDS and Episcopal.
Actually, those numbers are based on head counts of registered families in the parishes. And many, if not most, purge their records from time to time, based on whose contributing and who's known to attend. This has to do with things like baptisms and first communions.
I bet something like this is true for all groups who are claimed once in, always in.
No. YOu have to register yearly.
I can tell you that Catholics have declined in terms of their share of the population in New York, as have Jews, while the non-religious have grown.
Of course, where I am writing these words (Washington State) the non-religious are at 28%, the largest "denomination" in the state and the highest proportion of non-religious in the world.
Methinks the Catholic Church growth in strongest in the South and the West, while declining (in terms of percentage of the population) in places like New York, Mass, and (possibly) New Jersey.
"OK, but what about us non-religious? Are we growing?"
Who knows. Most non-religious folks aren't part of any organized group, so it's tough to count them. I'd say that the numbers are, and will remain, unknown.
Actually, the Catholic church does quite a lot to maintain an accurate, annual census.
Your perception isn't baseless: In many polls, people reply that they are Catholic even when they have left the Catholic church, as if to validate their position: "I'm a Catholic, and I think gays should get married; I'm a Catholic, and I think the schools should hand out condoms in the second grade," yadda yadda yadda... Then when they get asked how frequently they go to church, they tell the pollster how much they hate the Catholic church. So they don't go to church, they don't agree with any of the church's most basic teachings, they consider organized religion to be inherently corrupt, and they proudly worship pagan gods, but they tell pollsters that they are Catholic?
Further, there can be confusion as regards to baptism and Catholics in nations with established churches. Once baptized, a person remains forever a part of the church, according to Catholic faith. But that neither means that their salvation is assured, or they are considered Catholic: Baptism removes the stain of original sin, but can increase the judgment of committed sin. And nearly all Christians' rites of baptism are considered valid, so that hardly means they are members of the CATHOLIC Church (tm).
Finally, in many nations, C+P>T, or Catholics + Protestant > Total citizens. I believe... and may totally be wrong... that the reason why the number of Catholics remains higher in several largely apostate nations is that, having formerly had established religions, people continue registering with the Catholic church as they register with the state. I know the registration is not one and the same, but they can be very synchronized.
In Latin American countries, where there are very few priests per capita, there are probably very different registration rules; they'd be lucky to see a priest come to town once a year, let alone register each year! And I have heard that it is quite common for people to register with whoevere comes to town, accumulating several registrations in several sects.
I have a Philippino friend who is fairly ecumenical. She breaks me up. She remains the most devout of Catholics, but she'll never turn down the opportunity to reply affirmatively any time a friend invites her to go to a Protestant preacher. She believes, as the Catholic church teaches, in constant renewal of baptism, so she always goes along with any calls to be be baptized in the spirit, and would never pass up the chance to express her immense love for each member of the trinity, or to be prayed over.
So she'll enthusiastically sign up for any literature (probably inadvertantly registering at the same time); she'll respond to every altar call. The poor girl has probably become a member of 300 denominations just since I've known her!... But she is an everlast Catholic...
The fastest growing group I'm told.
Naturally, I know many actual Catholics from my parish, but the self proclaimed Catholic people I've worked with, or live among in my neighborhood, will have their children baptized so they can get into the parish school, or because their parents are Catholic and it is just something one does when one has a baby.
I think Jewish people also have a cultural component to their self proclaimed religious affiliation, but you rarely hear that one is a Methodist or Lutheran for cultural reasons.
I specifically added in the stuff about nondenominational churches and smaller, conservative, breakaway churches to the main article so as to not sound like I was saying to protestants, "haha, my church is growing; your church is shrinking!" I really have no news at all to report about how they are doing, but thought that silence about them might also communicate a message I don't mean to send.
But frankly, given the scandals the Catholic church has been through -- the corrupt leadership, the supposedly alienating style of church conservatives and Pope Benedict, and the blistering attacks against it from the left (MSM) and the right (incessant sermons against Catholic doctrines) -- I think the Catholic church is doing pretty good to be growing the way it is; and I think its growth says things about conservative values that support ALL conservative religions, in that a church with very large conservative and liberal factions is growing wherever it finds truth, and that ain't among the liberals!
I think you pretty much covered it, dangus.
My own experience is that many of the illegals came here in pursuit of their own god, money, and to escape the confines of their own culture which includes the Church and the morality She teaches.
Not usually. If they don't know you, and you never put an envelope in the collection plate, and you don't have a child in the parish school, they usually try to purge you from the parish registry after 3-4 years.
People typically don't bother to notify the parish office when they (physically) move away, anyway, and there's no central database of parish registrations, so they have to do something like that.
"OK, but what about us non-religious? Are we growing?"
apparently, you are growing ---
non-religious in 1990: 13,116,000
non-religious in 2001: 27,539,000
I wonder how they came up with those figures. I'm not all that surprised at the growth, I guess.
I only know a few of that 27,539,000, though.
agreed. I would be surprised if more than 33% of them are practicing Catholics.
I went and looked at that chart. Interestingly enough, the non-religious are the second largest group in the US, after Christians. I did not know that. Their projections into 2004 make the non-religious 13.8% of the US population.
That's a significant minority, I'd say.
Very significant minority. You probably also have a fairly respectable growth rate.
**Incidentally, all those Mexicans in the news lately are not counted as Catholics unless they are registered with their parishes, so they are not likely to be the predominant source of the Catholic Church's growth.**
Very good point. Registering in a parish means they have to overcome a language barrier unless the forms are also provided in Spanish. Secondly, not part of their culture. Their church support consists mostly of loose plate offerings -- not the envelope/tithing/offertory systems.
Please discuss the topic of the thread!
very significant growth since the 90's... (Clinton years by the way)...
If you watch TV you would think that 80% of the people are non-religious. I think that is partially fueling that growth.
"Wheres Farrakhan? These numbers arent true we need to march! (Sarcasm on)"
Holy smokes, Dangus. Will you turn your sarcasm switch
off? Everybody in town sounds like Howard Stern right now.