A recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that “the future of religion in America is young, non-Christian, and technicolor.”
That's what a recent Religion News Service article reports about the study, which was a survey of 101,000 Americans on religious identity. It confirms trends that we already know – specifically about the growing number of the religious unaffiliated (the so-called “nones”) and the decline in mainline Protestant and Catholic church attendance.
But the survey also reveals some interesting statistics that perhaps have not been so well documented, including findings on Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. For example, Muslims skew the youngest of all faith groups, with 42 percent of Muslims younger than 30.
Perhaps most surprising is that white evangelical Protestants are losing ground. Since 2006, the percentage of white evangelical Protestants has dropped from 23 percent to 17 percent of the population., although until recently, they seemed immune to the struggles facing Catholics and mainline Protestants.
As younger cohorts within the general population become more diverse -- ethnically, culturally, and spiritually -- churches and seminaries are finding that they must adapt if they're to connect with them in meaningful ways. The full study, “America’s Changing Religious Identity,” is online now, or you may read an article synthesizing the data at Religion New Service.
Once you do, let us know your thoughts. What surprised you about the findings? How do you anticipate theological education adapting to these shifting demographics?