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.]
"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.
I think that is part of the reason Catholicism is looking strong, that's why I mentioned it. People coming back to God generally are looking for clear guidance, not the "I'm OK You're OK" philosophy that too many allegedly religious institutions have adopted.
My mistake, I thought you wanted to talk about another subject. Please forgive me.
"Actually, as a percentage of the population your growing the fastest.
Yeah, but the non-religious don't make up any sort of voting bloc. They're all over the map, politically, so there's no way to manipulate them as a bloc.
I have to keep in mind that this data is from a fairly large poll, not from any actual membership stats. It's a large sample, though, so I suspect that its numbers are fairly close.
What I do? What I do? :^D
I neither posted, endorsed, or criticized that comment!
No forgiveness necessary, reviewing my original comment I can see how it can be misconstrued in good faith.
pun intended =)
The numbers of non-religious are exploding, but you'd have to really hate religion to be a happy conservative about that... We're not talking about people finding a system for maintaining and fulfilling a non-religion-dependent system of ethics. Mostly, we're talking about people who couldn't be bothered to think about right and wrong, and resent the people who do. I'd think for a non-religious conservative to cheer that would be like the religious right being happy about an explosion of goddess-worshiping, gay-friendly, Democrat-fundraising churches.
This can't be right.
I'm not sure. Have you registered with your absence-of-a-church? :^D Just teasing.
Dear John 6.66=Mark of the Beast?,
I don't think that the Charismatic Renewal, as it occurred within the Catholic Church, led to much defection of Catholics from the Church. What I saw during ten years of active participation (going back 30 years, now) was that it revitalized many parishes, and revitalized the personal Christianity (although not always the personal Catholicism) of many individuals.
By the early 1980s, a lot of the excesses of the movement had worked themselves out, and in many cases, Charismatic groups sought ever more orthodox expressions of Catholicism. The Holy Spirit used the Renewal to take many lukewarm Catholics, many Catholics with little knowledge or understanding of their faith, to draw them back to the Church as their Teacher and Guide.
Certainly, some Catholics left the Church via the Renewal, but this often happened for reasons unrelated to the Renewal itself (divorce and remarriage, and mixed marriages being two principal reasons).
As well, there were certainly some Charismatic communities where the wheels just about flew off the wagon. There was one community in the Washington, DC area that turned into quite a mess.
However, because the Catholic Church officially embraced the Renewal (tentatively, at first, and then more enthusiastically under Pope John Paul II), the Church was able to exert a little disciplinary pressure that helped guide the main part of the movement in an orthodox direction. As well, that embrace helped minimize defection from the Church because of participation in the Renewal. The Church did not ever take the position that one could be a good Charismatic, or a good Catholic, but not both. Just the opposite.