Christianity is losing its leadership position in the US: it will soon cease to be the religion of the majority
Christians could lose majority status in the United States by 2070, according to forecasts published by the Pew Research Center. What can happen and what the religious picture will look like, the publication said USA Today.
The study simulated four hypothetical scenarios, each representing a different rate of “switching,” which the Pew Research Center defined as “the change between the religion a person grew up with (as a child) and their current religious identity (as an adult).”
Pew said their models consider a scenario in which the switching speed remains unchanged, two scenarios in which the switching speed increases, and another scenario in which the switching speed stops completely.
The number of Americans who identify themselves as agnostics, atheists, or do not follow any particular religion has risen sharply since the 1990s, according to the think tank.
Each scenario starts with the religious composition of the nation in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center: 64% Christian, 30% unaffiliated (atheists, agnostics, and people who do not identify with any particular religion), and 6% other religions.
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By 2070, in three out of four scenarios, Christians will make up less than 50% of the country's population.
Scenario #1: Christian population is no longer a majority, plurality persists
In this scenario, young Americans (ages 15 to 29) are leaving and joining Christianity and other religions at the same rate as in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center, the share of Christians decreases by several percentage points in every generation, eventually falling below 50% by 2060 and reaching 46% by 2070. However, they represent the largest religious group in the country.
By 2070, representatives of other religions will grow to 13% of the population, while in this scenario, 41% of the US population will have no religious affiliation.
Scenario #2: By 2070, nearly half of the US population will be non-religious
Young Americans are gradually moving away from Christianity with each generation in this scenario. But over time, the speed of "switching" slows down.
By 2050, the number of Christians falls below 50% of the population, and by 2070 - up to 39%.
The share of Americans who do not belong to any religion rises to 2070% by 48, and the percentage of US residents belonging to non-Christian religions rises to 12%.
Scenario #3: The US will be mostly secular by 2070
In this scenario, by 2070, 52% of Americans will not identify with any religion, "switching" is growing at a constant rate.
The percentage of Americans who are Christians drops to 35%, while the percentage of those who belong to a non-Christian religion is 12%.
Scenario #4: By 2070, Christianity will retain a slim majority
This scenario, based on recent trends, seems unrealistic as it assumes that Americans will abruptly stop leaving religion after 2020.
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However, according to the Pew Research Center, by 2070 the number of Christians in Christianity will fall by 10% as older Christians die. Religiously non-religious people will make up 34% of the country's population, and representatives of other religions - 12%.
Which scenario is most likely
Scenario #2, in which Christianity falls below 50% of the population by 2050 and to 39% by 2070, “best illustrates what will happen if generational trends in the US continue,” according to the Pew Research Center.
Data from dozens of countries around the world show that the majority of people aged 30 to 49 who report being raised as Christians are still Christians, meaning that, according to Pew, the retention rate of Christians in those countries did not fall below 50%. Scenario #2 simulates a Christian retention rate of 50% or higher in the US.
According to Pew, each scenario assumes that current demographic trends - migration, births and deaths - remain constant.
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