Religious Preferences of Americans have changed, Gallup Poll finds
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Tue Nov 20 00:54:04 EST 2001
RELIGIOUS PREFERENCES OF AMERICANS HAVE CHANGED
New Gallup Poll finds Protestants still dominant but diminished force
By David W. Virtue
Protestants still dominate the American religious landscape, according
to the Gallup Organization. Based on the cumulative sample of religious
preferences of 25,000 interviews conducted recently, more than 56
percent of Americans still call themselves Protestant.
This figure is unchanged since 1983, rose briefly to 60 percent between
1962 and 1978 but was a solid 69 percent in 1947.
By contrast Roman Catholics are 28 percent of the nation, the same as
1983 and only one percent higher in 1977-1978. In 1963 Catholics
numbered 23 percent. In 1947 they were 20 percent of the population.
The number of Jews in America is two percent, unchanged since 1974. In
1962 the Jewish population was three percent, but in 1947 it was five
percent. Increasing assimilation will drop that figure even lower.
Among those who claim a religious faith other than Protestant, Catholic
or Jewish that figure is four percent, up from one percent in 1977/78,
and those with an undesignated religious faith that figure is 10
percent, up from eight percent in 1977/78 and six percent in 1947.
A total of 13 percent of all Americans stand outside mainstream
Christianity, indicating that more and more Americans are unsure what
they believe or, if they do believe anything, it does not fit the broad
mainstream of Christian Faith.
Eighty-four percent of all Americans still claim to be historically
based Christians, how much that has changed since Sept. 11, 2001 is not
at present known.
It would still, on paper, be safe to say that the United States is a
broadly based Christian country, though how that works out in the daily
lives of most people is questionable.
Neither post-modernism nor pluriform religion holds sway over the vast
majority of Americans.
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