Estimates of the number of Wiccans in
the U.S., during 1999 and 2000.
Part 2 of seven parts
Jewelry in the form of one Wiccan pentacle symbol inside another.
The Christian radio progran, 700 Club, on the Christian Broadcasting
Network, broadcast a series of programs titled "America's
Moral Crisis." Included were episodes titled: The Moral State of
the Union, Materialism & Greed, Substance Abuse and Crime, Growing up
Godless, and False Religion. Under the last topic, they
discuss Witchcraft (i.e. Wicca) and Satanism -- two religions that they
presented as equivalent. They also include
unrelated religions and pastimes, such as New
Age, materialism, the
Occult, Astrology and devil worship. A graphic on their web page showed
a Los Angeles Time newspaper with the heading "Today:
70,000 Witches in America." Under "Symptoms" they estimate that there are 3,000,000 "avowed witches" in the U.S. The source of this number is unknown.
Loren Wilkinson wrote an article on
Neopaganism for Christianity Today, a leading evangelical Christian
periodical. He was a professor of interdisciplinary studies and
philosophy at Regent College, a conservative Christian college in
Vancouver, BC, Canada. The essay is adapted from a book that he was writing at the time, titled: "Circles and the Cross: A Trinitarian Response to Some Contemporary Religious Movements." The book was published as ISBN #
1842270303, but is now out of print. Concerning Wicca, he stated that "Supporters claim it is the
fastest-growing religion in the United States, with nearly half a
million adherents." Unfortunately, he did not cite a source for this statement.
A marketing executive from Barnes and Noble, the
"World's Largest Bookseller Online," estimates a U.S.
"Pagan Buying Audience" of 10 million. Many, perhaps most, of this number were probably just curious, and not practicing Neopagans. This number would
not include those who only scan the Internet or frequent the public library as
their main sources of information. Of course, this number is only an
estimate of the number of people who buy Pagan books -- not the number of
actual Pagans. B&N allocates more space to Pagan books than the size of the audience
would justify, because "Pagan book buyers" tend to buy more books
per capita than those of other faith groups. 3
Catherine Edwards, writing in Insight Online magazine
quotes -- misquoted Phyllis Curott as estimating that there are 3 to 5 million
Wiccans in the U.S. 4
Edwards also quotes Helen Berger and Craig Hawkins' book
"Witchcraft" which estimated 150,000 to 200,000. 5
The Witches' Voice is one of the largest and
most professional Wiccan web sites. In their press kit, they comment on the
numbers of Witches, Wiccans and pagans, saying:
"No one knows for sure but
we do know that the number is increasing rapidly. Our best estimate here at
The Witches' Voice is about 1 million in the U.S. and 3 million
This web site, ReligiousTolerance.org, conducted a poll
of its visitors in late 1999. We were amazed to find that 13% of
those answering our poll identified themselves as "Wiccan or
other Neopagan." If this were a true sampling of the North
American population, then the result would imply that about 40 million Neopagans
lived in the U.S. and Canada!
The poll does not reflect the situation in the entire U.S., for a
number of reasons:
- Wiccans are probably more actively involved on the Internet than
followers of other religions. After all, many Wiccans engage in
positive magical activities. Surfing the Internet involves, at a
fundamental level, the rearrangement of electrical charges on
pieces of silicon buried inside a computer. What could be more magical that that?
- Because of the extremely high level of persecution and
oppression of Wiccans, they were probably much more likely than
most North Americans to visit our web site, which is devoted to
the promotion of religious tolerance and coexistence.
- Being a member of a religious minority, they would probably be
more likely to take part in an anonymous religious poll.
- Only about 62% of our site visitors live in the U.S. and Canada.
Responses from elsewhere in the world would have distorted the
"Guy Vestal, [is] CEO of Pagan Internet
Industries Inc. His study of 'pagan demographics' indicates there are
roughly 3 million Pagan Internet users. And he suspected that the actual
total is much higher. 7
The Covenant of the Goddess conducted a
year-long poll of Witches and Pagans, starting 1999-JUL. They estimated
that the total number of Witches and Pagans in the United States is
There is an atypical age distribution when compared to other
- 11% are 17 or under
- 25% are 18 to 25
- 40% are 26 to 39
- 23% are 40 to 59
- 1% are 60 or over.
86% of Wiccan and Pagan adults were registered to vote. This compared with about 50% among
American adults generally. This puts their effective size as a
voting block at about 1.3 million, approximately half that of Jews
and of Muslims in America at the time.
71% are female; 29% male. They probably have the greatest gender mismatch of any large religion in the U.S.
13% have military service records. 8 This may be a considerably higher percentage than occurs in the population generally. 9
For estimates after the years 2001 to 2006, see the next essay
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"America's Moral Crisis," Christian Broadcasting Network,
(This link is no longer active.)
Loren Wilkinson, "The bewitching charms of Neopaganism," Christianity Today, 1999-NOV-15, Vol. 43, #13, Page 54.
Online at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/
- Posting to a Wiccan mailing list which included a personal interview of a B&N executive.
Phyllis Curott, "Book of Shadows: A modern woman's journey into
the wisdom of Witchcraft and the magic of the Goddess," Broadway
Books, (1999) Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
Amazon.com's sales rank for this book was 2,356 on 1999-OCT-26. Not bad,
considering that Amazon lists over 1 million books.
Helen Berger and Craig Hawkins, "Witchcraft: Exploring the world
of Wicca," University of South Carolina Press, (1999) Read
some very positive reviews/order this book
The Witches' Voice web site is at: http://www.witchvox.com/
Michelle Finley, "Web Pagans make love and warlock,"
Lycos Network, at: http://www.wired.com/
"Witches Count!," press release, Covenant of the Goddess,
Mona Chalabi, "What Percentage Of Americans Have Served In The Military?," FiveThirtyEight, 2015-MAR-19, at: http://fivethirtyeight.com/
Copyright © 1999 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2016-OCT-20
Author: B.A. Robinson