Saturday, September 9, 2017
The share of Americans who identify as white and Christian has dropped below 50 percent, a transformation fueled by immigration and by growing numbers of people who reject organized religion altogether, according to a new survey released this week.
Christians overall remain a large majority in the U.S., at nearly 70 percent of Americans. However, white Christians, once predominant in the country’s religious life, now comprise only 43 percent of the population, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Four decades ago, about eight in 10 Americans were white Christians.
The change has occurred across the spectrum of Christian traditions in the U.S., including sharp drops in membership in predominantly white mainline Protestant denominations such as Presbyterians and Lutherans; an increasing Latino presence in the Roman Catholic Church as some non-Hispanic white Catholics leave; and shrinking ranks of white evangelicals, who until recently had been viewed as immune to decline.
The trends identified in the survey are fueling anxiety about the place of Christians in society, especially among evangelicals, alarmed by support for gay marriage and by the increasing share of Americans – about one-quarter – who don’t identify with a faith group. President Donald Trump drew 80 percent of votes by white evangelicals, a constituency that remains among his strongest supporters.