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A short note:

Religious trends in the West

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Religious trends in the West:

  • United States: At about the year 1990, Christianity started to lose market share in the U.S. The percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Christians dropped from 87% in 1990 to 77% in 2001 -- about 1 percentage point per year. The rate of decline then slowed; identification as Christian dropped to 76% in 2008. Sometime during the first decade of the 21st century, Protestant Christians became a minority in the U.S.

    The percentage of adults who say that they attend church on most weeks is close to 40%. But, half are lying; a counting of noses reveales that the true value was about half of this amount.

    Adults who identify themselves as having no religious affiliation are largely taking up the slack. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey 1 in mid 2007, 16.1% of the adult population reported being unaffiliated with any faith group. They consist of "Nothing in particular," Agnostics, Atheists, Secular unaffiiliated, and religiously unaffiliated persons.

    Some small religions are growing rapidly. One example is Wicca, an Earth-based Neopagan religion. It is doubling about every 30 months.

    If current trends hold, then sometime during the early 2030's, Christianity will become a minority religion in the U.S.

    North America is rapidly becoming more religiously diverse. The Northeast is largely mainline Christian, liberal Christian, and secular. The South is largely conservative Christian. The West coast has many followers of eclectic and mystical religions. There may not be a strong enough foundation of religious tolerance in the U.S. and Canada to support this growing future diversity without significant conflict.

    A major problem within many Christian churches is the disenchantment by many older teenagers and young adults. That does not bode well for the future of Christianity in the U.S.

  • Canada: Christianity has partly faded in Canada, where only 20% of adults say that they attend church regularly, and only about 10% actually do. 

  • United Kingdom: Christianity has been largely abandoned in the UK. The decline started in the 1950's. By 1980, only about 12% reported that they attendeded church weekly. This is expected to drop to about 5% by 2015. Meanwhile, the average age of an attendee rose from 40 years in 1985 to 50 in 2010 and is expected to reach 66 by 2020.

    As of early 2007, one survey showed that although 58% of UK adults still identify themselves as Christian, only about 15% of adults say that they attend any type of religious service once a month.

    Atheists and Agnostics have grown to about 33% of the population. The religion/philosophy claimed by the Jedi Knights of Star Wars fame is now the fourth largest religion in the UK! 2

  • Elsewhere in Europe: One 2007 survey showed that five countries that are predominately Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox have high church attendance: 76% in Poland, 67% in Ireland, 55% in Greece, 47% in Portugal, 44% in Italy. The lowest rates of churchgoing is found in Denmark, 9%; France: 14%; Hungary: 18%; Belgiium: 19%; Germany: 20%; Netherlands: 21%. 2

    It may be significant that Denmark was found to be the happiest place on Earth; the U.S. was rated the 23rd happiest country. 3

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Related essays:

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References used:

  1. "Report 1: Religious affiliation," Pew Forum, 2007, at: http://religions.pewforum.org/
  2. "How many people go to Church in the UK?," Why Church, 2010, at: http://www.whychurch.org.uk/
  3. Bill Weir & Sylvia Johnson, "Denmark: The happiest place on Earth," ABC News, 2007-JAN-08, at: http://abcnews.go.com/
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