Looks like we’re all minorities now.
The percentage of Americans who are white and Christian, long the vast majority of the U.S. population, has dropped below 50 percent, according to a newly released poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, D.C.,-based polling organization that surveyed more than 100,000 people.
Only 43 percent of Americans today identify as white and Christian – and only 30 percent as white and Protestant. If those numbers seem shockingly low – and they do – consider this: Forty years ago, the national figures were 81 percent white Christians, and 55 percent white Protestants.
And the numbers are dropping across the nation’s religious spectrum. Among white evangelicals, the population percentage has dropped from 23 to 17 over the past decade. Only 11 percent of Americans identify as white Catholics – a drop of 5 percent.
And the Jews?
Still roughly 2 percent of the country, while the other non-Christian religions (Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus) each represent about 1 percent of the population.
But here are some other facts about Jews: Among those under the age of 30, a majority (53 percent) identify as culturally Jewish and only 47 percent as religiously Jewish. Among those 65 and older, 78 percent say they’re religious while 22 percent identify as culturally Jewish.
Thirty percent of Jews report household incomes greater than $100,000. Hindus (25 percent) and Unitarians (22 percent) are close. Along with Hindus (38 percent) and Unitarians (43 percent), Jews (34 percent) have the highest percentage of post-graduate degrees.
The religious transformation across America has partly been fueled by immigration and partly by people who simply reject organized religion. The religiously unaffiliated – either atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – now constitute 24 percent of the country. Since the 1990s, that figure has tripled. Among gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders, nearly one-half are religiously unaffiliated.
As great swaths of Texas and Florida attempt recovery from the vast destruction of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, spiritual leaders of all religions return to the pulpits and reach for sermons of comfort and sympathy and a sense of God’s role as nature expressed its fury.
The question, according to the latest polling data, is how many people are still out here listening?
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books, most recently “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age” (Johns Hopkins University Press).
Photo Above: Among Jews under 30, a majority identify only as culturally Jewish, according to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, D.C.,-based polling organization.
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