How many Wiccans are there?
Quotation from a posting to a Christian forum:
"I am my father's son" posted the following ominous message on 2007-FEB-20:
"I found this chilling. We are truly in the Last Days as Americans willfully and boldly embrace paganism. I recollect from the 90's a Christian Prophet who proclaimed how the Lord told him that when the simultaneous maturation of three things materializes in the U.S., then the complete destruction of America would immediately transpire; those three thing are abortion, witchcraft and legalized Gay marriage." 5
Abortion access has theoretically been available for over 40 years, since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade during 1973.
The first state to allow same-sex marriage was Massachusetts during mid-2004. By the end of 2014, it was available in 36 states and the District of Columbia. On 2015-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage (a.k.a. same-sex marriage) in four additional states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee by its ruling of the Obergefell v. Hodges case. This had the effect of also legalizing gay marriage across all 50 states, four out of five territories, and the District of Columbia. The exception is the territory of American Samoa where most inhabitants are considered American residents, not necessarily American citizens. Thus the High Court's decisions do not necessarily apply there.
That leaves only "witchcraft" to "mature" before the "Last Days" will start up.
Fortunately, there have been thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- of estimates of TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it). All of the dates that have been predicted to occur in our past have failed. We expect that the above prediction will also fail.
Wicca and other neopagan faiths still represent a very small percentage of religious believers in the U.S. today. Also, what the Christian Prophet defined as "Witchcraft" was probably related to the Satan worshipers/baby sacrificers who were believed to exist in the Middle Ages. They didn't exist then, and certainly don't exist today. So the God's destruction of the U.S. is probably not imminent. It is probably safe to unpack.
Self-reporting by various faith groups:
Estimates of the number of members which are supplied by their own
religious organizations are known to be inaccurate:
- Some faith groups consider any person who was once
baptized as a permanent member of their faith, even though they may have
never darkened the door of a church or other religious building since.
- Other faith groups simply pad their membership.
- Still others treat their membership data as confidential and refuse
to release it.
- Some report only active members.
Difficulties in estimating numbers of Wiccans:
Membership numbers, as supplied by large religious organizations, are
notoriously inaccurate, even though such groups have a central administrative authority which can
communicate with its member churches and collect and collate accurate data.
Within Wicca and other
Neopagan religions, there is no such organization. Many, perhaps most, Witches are solitary practitioners; they perform their
rites alone. Others form covens which are informal groups of Wiccans. There no real coordinating group above the coven level; no state, provincial, national, or international organization.
The problem is further complicated by the secrecy which necessarily envelops Wicca.
Particularly in the past, Wiccans who come out of the (broom) closet and publicly reveal their faith
exposed themselves to physical danger. In the late 20th century, there was allegedly one
lynching, a mass attempted mass murder by stoning, numerous shootings, fire
bombings and common assaults. So, many Wiccans remain safely
out of sight where they practice their religion in secret.
Most of the hatred has dissipated, largely because more Wiccans have come out of the closet and gone public with their faith. Also, many books on Wicca have been published recently, and many articles have appeared in the media and Internet.
Some estimates have been made on the basis of:
- The attendance at Neopagan
festivals and fairs. But it is not known with any accuracy what percentage of Wiccans attend these
gatherings, and what percentage of attendees at such festivals are Wiccans.
- The sales figures of various popular Neopagan books. But it is not known
how many Wiccans use the Internet, library books, or books borrowed from
friends rather than purchase their own copy.
Wiccans use tools in their rituals: athames (ritual knives), a chalice,
candles, etc. But it is hopeless to try to estimate the total number of Wiccans from the number
of tools sold. Many Neopagans construct
their own equipment. They might adapt a manufactured letter opener or conventional
knife for an athame.
All calculation techniques are largely guesswork and prone to inaccuracy.
Telephone polls have been conducted to determine the size of religious groups. But the number of Wiccans who are contacted by such surveys is very small and have a wide margin of errors. They are often not reported directly, but are lumped together with other faiths.
Another problem is that because of the fear of persecution, many Wiccans refuse to tell polling agencies of their religion.
Wiccan growth rate:
Another important statistic is the rate of growth of the Wiccan community.
"In May, 1998, the Chicago Tribune reported that, though difficult
to quantify due to lack of formal organization, neo-paganism is the
fastest-growing religion in North America with the Internet being the
prime means of proselytizing." 1
Ms. Curott estimates a doubling in size every 18 months. This
growth rate seems
quite high, but appears to
have some credibility in the Wiccan community. The ARIS survey of the
American adult population indicates a growth in the Wiccan community of 17
fold between 1990 and 2001 - the highest of any faith group monitored.
This would indicate a doubling in numbers of adherents about every 30
months. 2 Maria Alupoaicei, who co-authored the book
"Generation Hex" claims that "The numbers of [Wiccan] adherents are
doubling every 30 months." We suspect that she derived her estimate
from that essay. She notes that there are over 700,000 web sites for
Wiccans on the Internet.
If the latter growth rate is accurate and if it continues, then Wicca
would have grown to become the third largest religious group in the U.S. by about 2012,
behind Christianity and Judaism, and ahead of Islam!
U.S. Census Data:
A widespread rumor has circulated that the Census was going to collect data
about religious affiliation in the year 2000. This is the first Neopagan Urban
Folk Tale of which we are aware. A widely distributed Email recommends that
Neopagans all call themselves by the generic term Pagan, rather than use
more specific terms, such as Asatru, Druid,
Earth religionist, Heathen, Neopagan, Wiccan or Witch. Otherwise, they would simply be enumerated as "Religion:
other" and lose their identity.
This sounds like an attractive idea. However, it is based on a false belief.
The U.S. census for the year 2000, and in subsequent years, did not ask questions about religious affiliation.
Australian census data:
According to the Way of Life Literature's Fundamental Baptist
"The number of people in Australia identifying themselves as Witches
and Pagans has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2001, which is
the government's most recent census, more than 8,700 identified
themselves as Witches (up from fewer than 2,000 in 1996) and roughly
11,000 identified themselves as Pagans (which encompasses Wiccans,
heathens, Druids, Goddess worshippers, and shamans)." (Grammar
Number of Neopagan books published:
Supporting the belief in a rapid rise in the number of Wiccans and other
Neopagans in the world is the increase in the number of
Wicca/Witchcraft-related books in each recent decade. A posting to alt.religion.wicca.moderated described a survey of Amazon.com's online
||Number of books published
We have listed more recent data in another essay.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. With the passage of time, most of the following links are offline.
Quoted in: "21st century challenges to separation of religion and
government," Jefferson 21st Century Institute, at: http://www.j21c.org/
"American Religious Identification Survey," by The
Graduate Center of the City University of New York, at: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/studies/
"Witches in Victoria, Australia," Newsletter, Way of Life
Literature's Fundamental Baptist Information Service, 2005-SEP-30. Their
web site is at: http://www.wayoflife.org
"Wicca will be the 3rd largest religion in the U.S. by 2012,"
Shattered Paradigm, 2008-SEP-23, at: http://shatteredparadigm.blogspot.com/
"Wicca Religion in U.s. [sic] Expanding Exponentially," Christian Forum, 2007-FEB-20, at: http://www.christian-forum.net/ Christian-Forum.net is currently in "read only" mode and new postings are not accepted.
Copyright © 1999 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2016-OCT-20
Author: B.A. Robinson