Christian America Is Following The Path Of Western European Secularization
By Evangelical FocusJanuary 06, 2021
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The United States is following the secularization path of Western Europe, as the number of people who identify as Christians continues to fall. One decade ago they still were three in four citizens, now it is only two in three.
According to the latest report published by Pew Research, only 63% of US citizens self-identify as Christians, 10% less than in 2011 (73%). In 2007, the number was close to eight in ten (78%).
In contrast, it is the group of "nones" (atheists, agnostics or "nothing in particular") that grows, from 16% in 2007 to 29% now.
"Christians now outnumber religious 'nones' by a ratio of a little more than two-to-one", said the Pew Research Center. "In 2007, when the Center began asking its current question about religious identity, Christians outnumbered 'nones' by almost five-to-one".
Protestantism's fall in numbers
It is the group of Protestant Christians, the biggest religious confession in the US, which suffers the largest losses. Exactly 50% identified as Protestants ten years ago, now only 40% do so. This figure includes mainline Protestants, Evangelical Christians (Baptists, Pentecostals, etc) and some other minority groups.
"Currently, 60% of Protestants say 'yes' when asked whether they think of themselves as a 'born-again or evangelical Christian', while 40% say 'no' or decline to answer the question", says the report.
Catholicism, on the other hand, remains stable, with 21% of the population self-identifying with the Roman Church (three points less than in 2011).
Other faith groups such as Mormons (2%) and Orthodox Christians (1%) continue to be small minorities.
Asked about the role of prayer in their lives, 45% said they pray every day, down from the 55% that said so in 2014.
One third of US citizens now say they never pray, almost twice as many as in 2007.
41% say religion is "very important" in their lives (down -15% since 2007) while 33% say it is "not too important / not at all important" (up +17% since 2007).
When Protestants are asked about church attendance, it is evangelical Christians who say they are more committed to their Christian community: 63% join a worship service at least once a month (a number that goes up to 70% in the case of black evangelicals). Only 32% of other Protestants attend a church service once a month.
The Secularization Of Western Europe
These newest data seem to confirm that the United States follows the path of secularization of European countries.
Recent data in the UK show that self-described Christians are close to fall under the 50% line, as being non-religious is already the main option among those aged 25 or less.
In the Netherlands, the number of Protestants is on a historic low (14%) and Christianity is no longer the default religion for the members of the Royal family.
In Germany it is surprisingly the young people who say they believe most in God and eight in ten say they have prayed at least once.
In the last 20 years, Roman Catholicism has lost 20 percentage points in Spain, as evangelical Christians have multiplied eightfold and now represent 2% of the population.