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Religious & spiritual groups in the United States

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Quotation:

"No denomination has ever constituted a majority in the United States as a whole. In this sense all denominations are minorities..." M J. Gunn

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Overview:

Little precise information is known about the size of religious faith groups in the U.S.  Members of the Church of Satan and Christian Scientists do not release their membership data.  Most of the other groups do publish their total membership.  However, there is no standardization of reporting methods:

  • Some count only the number of active members.

  • Others count everyone who has ever been baptized, even though they may not have darkened the door of that church in many decades.

  • Still others inflate their figures, or do not reveal them publically.

A better way of estimating the size of religious groups might be through the use of telephone sampling, such as is done on the periodic ARIS and Pew surveys. However, these also have inaccuracies:

  • Even with a sample size of 50,000 adults, relatively few members of small groups like Unitarian Universalists or Quakers will be contacted. As a result, the estimated size of small faith groups will lack accuracy.

  • Followers of some faith groups, like Wicca and Islam may not readily admit their religious affiliation to a stranger over the phone because of the danger of persecution.

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Negative reactions towards minority faiths:

Hatred, and animosity towards Wiccans and other Neopagans is largely a holdover from the Middle Ages when Witches were believed to worship Satan and engage in abuse of children. Since the 1990's when:

  • Satanic Ritual Abuse became been widely understood as a hoax, that is nonexistent in practice.

  • the popularity of Wicca increased,

  • Knowledge about Wicca has increased, and

  • Many Wiccans have been more open about their religion,

animosity by Cowans (non-Wiccans) has largely dissapeared.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true of Islam. A violent fringe within the extreme fundamentalist wing of Islam has been assassinating fellow Muslims, Christians, and followers of other religions in large numbers. This has caused a growing level of Islamophobia, particularly among non-Muslims who identify the radical fringe element as typical of the entire religion.

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Topics covered in this section:

bulletIntroductory information: How many faith groups? How they count noses. Attendance; The un-churched.

bulletChristian denominations

bulletNon-Christian groups

bulletHow Americans view themselves:

bullet Findings of the ARIS studies: Religious identification in the U.S.; How American adults view themselves (Personal religious identification, shifts, religious vs. secular, switching, inter-faith marriage, geographical distribution, etc.) This survey was completed in 1990, 2001, and 2008. << A big section

bulletFindings of the Pew Forum A 2004 survey identifying of 18 distinct religious communities).

bulletComparing U.S. religious beliefs with those in other "Christian" countries

bulletCooperation and conflict motivated by religious diversity in North America
 
bulletAttitudes towards other faith groups:

bulletBy Americans, in general

bulletBy Americans towards Mormons and Evangelicals

bullet By American Christians towards non-Christians
 
bulletAdditional information: The largest denominations; numbers of Catholics; books

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Site navigation:

Home page > Religious info. > Basic info > here

Home page > Christianity > Christian history, beliefs, practice > Practices > here

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Copyright © 1996 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated: 2013-OCT-11
Author: B.A. Robinson
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