Protestants No Longer a Majority in US – No Protestants on SCOTUS or Presidential Ticket

For the first time in our history, a Pew poll reports that Protestants in the U.S. have fallen below 50%, all the way down to 48%. The first thing that caught my eye, is that there are no Protestants on the U.S. Supreme Court. And then with my thinking in gear, I realized that Mormons do not consider themselves Protestants, and our Presidential ticket is Protestant-less. The Pew survey is based on two studies; one polled 3,000 people, another 17,000. In my neck of the woods, pick three (maybe two) of our many larger churches, and you’ve found about 20,000 people on any given Sunday.

Among the reasons for the change are the growth in nondenominational Christians and a spike in the number of American adults who say they have no religion. The Pew study, released Tuesday, found that about 20% of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15% in the last five years.

Scholars have long debated whether people who say they no longer belong to a religious group should be considered secular. While the category as defined by Pew researchers includes atheists, it also encompasses majorities of people who say they believe in God, and a notable minority who pray daily or consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious.” Still, Pew found overall that most of the unaffiliated aren’t actively seeking another religious home, indicating that their ties with organized religion are broken…

Growth among those with no religion has been a major preoccupation of American faith leaders who worry that the highly religious U.S. would go the way of Western Europe, where church attendance has plummeted…The trend also has political implications. American voters who describe themselves as having no religion vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Pew found Americans with no religion support abortion rights and gay marriage at a much higher rate than the U.S. public at large. These “nones” are an increasing segment of voters who are registered as Democrats or lean toward the party, growing to 24% from 17% over the last five years. The religiously unaffiliated are becoming as important a constituency to Democrats as evangelicals are to Republicans, Pew said. Source: Wall Street Journal

The make up of the U.S. Supreme Court:

Catholic: Alito, Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, Sotomayor, Thomas
Jewish: Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan

Apparently the large influx of Catholic Hispanics/Latinos, who would naturally dilute the numbers of Protestants, has no bearing on this survey, rather that possibility is ignored and it is assumed that people who have left the church are solely secular – just left that whole Protestant idea behind.

The study also show that the proportion of White “mainline” Protestants has dropped by 3% from 18% to 15%.

The study also found that the fastest growing “religious group” in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.

Nevertheless…

According to Pew, Protestants are still the largest religious group in the United States, followed by Catholics, who make up 22% of the country, and the unaffiliated, who account for almost 20%.

I think a survey of the many, many, many Americans who stay home on Sunday morning but tune in to a pastor/evangelist on television would be interesting. Those people often watch on Sunday morning, and then do it again daily on stations like Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). I know because I’ve been one of them, and I know many who continue to do so, but then, this is flyover country.

It’s my opinion that if you consider yourself a Christian, but are not Catholic and are not paired with an ideology outside of Biblical teachings, you are a Protestant, unless like Mormons, you have never claimed to be Protestant. “Non-denominational” churches would likely tell you they are non-denominational because they want to follow the Bible without a fixed doctrine. That’s not secular, and it can hardly be non-Protestant. What do you think?

  • Vic

    I take such polls with a grain of salt. How big was their sample? How was the question phrased? Did their sample include people from all states? Do they have a political axe to grind?

    I also don’t think American Christians are that concerned with the religion of the politicians they vote for. Maybe they should be. Maybe not. Personally, I will not vote for an known atheist or Muslim.

    If I were ask by a pollster, I would have to say that I am a nonconformist protestant, as Matthew Henry claimed he was. I have to admit however, I have met several Catholics I have much in common with. They are the more conservative type who don’t seem to worship the pope. They are well read, and know the scriptures well. I suppose they are somewhat nonconformist like myself.

  • I think much the way you do, Maggie. I’ve often used TV or radio as a substitute. I many ways if you are not Catholic (or Orthodox) and believe in our God by definition you are a Protestant. Mormons are a somewhat special case. I, like conservative Catholics have a lot of trouble basing Christianity on the Bible alone, without the thoughts of the early fathers and such.

    I also think the mainline churches are suffering from an infiltration of humanism that began at Lambeth in the C of E in the ’30s and has infected many of the mainline denominations, speeding the rise of the non-denominationals.