How Many Americans are Christians?

The third American Religious Identification Survey has just been released, and it shows some interesting trends.  In terms of percentage, overall self-identification as “Christian” has stayed about the same as it was in 2001 –  76%, but there have been a couple of areas of significant change:

  • Non-denominational Christians have tripled in size (as a percentage) to just over eight million.
  • Evangelical Christians have doubled in size (as a percentage) to over two million.
  • Mainline Christians appear to have dropped the most, down to twenty-nine million.
US Population by Religious Tradition
US Population by Religious Tradition

Using the religious tradition categories above, how do you identify yourself?

[poll id=”10l”]

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4 Replies to “How Many Americans are Christians?”

  1. Hey Mark,

    What are your thoughts on religion (especially Evangelicals) becoming quite involved in politics on the national stage in the US? Politicians these days need to be of one faith or another these days it seems. My personal opinion is that religion should have no place in leading a nation. But what are your thoughts on the emergence of the Tea Party which is heavily composed of Christian and Evangelical groups? I worry that this group says they are religious on one hand, but then act a very different way at other times. In Matthew 25:40 it is said “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

    Yet this group of religious/political group is cheering when the topic of the death penalty is brought up in the Republican leadership debate. It worries me. This type of behaviour is in no way Christian and gives religion a bad name.

    1. Good question, Ryan! Unfortunately, I can’t really speak to the nuances of current American politics (that is not my area of expertise). Although I am somewhat intrigued by what I see online!

      That is a good question, though, about the relationship between religious beliefs and political beliefs. While most of us would agree that negative religious beliefs should not be a part of political leadership, my guess is that most of us would want positive religious beliefs (ethical behaviour, for example) to play an important role. And of course, who gets to decide what is positive and what is negative? 🙂 So perhaps “religion” itself is not the problem.

      Thinking big picture for a minute, it seems to me that there are at least three categories of worldviews (in general, anyway). Mono-theistic, poly-theistic, and non-theistic. I wonder, then, what the rationale would be for allowing only people with one worldview to be in political leadership. That sounds kind of dangerous to me (especially as I look at history), and pretty short-sighted. And speaking of history, I suspect that there are incredibly capable and incredibly inept leaders who fall on either side of the religious/nonreligious fence.

      So … in the end, perhaps it is not so much that religion per se should be eliminated from those in political leadership (which would be impossible and unwise, in my opinion), inasmuch as it is that poor leadership and lack of critical thinking should be eliminated from political leadership. And yes, I know that will be impossible too, but at least it is a noble goal. 🙂


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