Share of Christians in America dropping sharply

Share of Christians in America dropping sharply
© Getty Images
The share of Americans who describe themselves as Christian has dropped 12 percentage points in the last decade, a precipitous decline across denominations led by a millennial generation that is far less likely than their parents or grandparents to spend Sundays in the pews.
A new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center finds 65 percent of American adults identified themselves as Christian in 2018 or 2019, down from 77 percent in 2009. At the same time, the share of adults who describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated grew from 17 percent to 26 percent.
The decline, as in so many other societal trends, is led by the millennial generation, just 49 percent of whom describe themselves as Christian. That’s a drop of 16 percentage points from a decade ago, when the oldest millennials were in their mid-20s.
Just over a third of millennials say they attend religious services at least once a month.
More than 80 percent of those born before 1945, more than three-quarters of baby boomers and two-thirds of Generation X say they are Christian, though numbers have slumped among boomers and Xers.
Virtually every demographic has become less likely to identify as Christian in the last decade, the Pew data show. The drop is evident among both men and women, across racial lines, across regional and educational lines — and even across partisan lines. Democrats are now 17 percentage points less likely to call themselves Christian, and the share of Republicans who identify as such is down seven points.
Westerners are the least likely to call themselves Christian; just 60 percent said so. But even in the South, the most religious region of the country, the share of the faithful is on the decline. The percentage of Southerners who called themselves Christian dropped from 82 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2018.
Even the share of white born-again evangelicals is on the decline. Today, only 16 percent of American adults say they are born-again, down from 19 percent a decade ago.
The percentage of religious Americans who attend church services has not declined substantially in recent years, but overall church attendance is falling too. That, the Pew researchers said, is a reflection of the fact that there are simply fewer religious Americans to attend church in the first place.
Just a decade ago, slightly more than half of Americans said they were members of a Protestant denomination. Today, that share is down to 43 percent. And the number of Catholics has dropped from 23 percent to 20 percent over the same span.
Members of other religious groups have held steady in recent years. Just about the same percentage of Americans called themselves Mormon (2 percent), Jewish (2 percent), Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu (1 percent each) in 2009 as in 2018.
The trend away from religious observance has been a decades-long phenomenon. The General Social Survey found a drop in the number of Americans who identified as Christian stretching back to the late 1970s, when 90 percent of Americans said they adhered to a Christian faith.