Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fastest growing religious belief isn't.

The New York Times has an interesting report on Spanish-speaking immigrants and religion. Apparently the level of religiousity drops significantly when these people move to the United States.

One reason is outlined by one immigrant from Guatemala who said he went to church every Sunday prior to immigrating but now his family no longer does so. “We pray to God when we feel the need to but when we come here to America we don’t feel the need.”

The report, from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center found that 8 percento Spanish-speaking residents of the US say that they have “no religion” which is close to the 11% of Americans in general who say the same. (Among young people in America the percentage of non-religious is now 20%.)

One difference for the immigrants is that two-thirds of the now non-religious say they were previously religious.

But a larger survey of Spanish-speaking Americans found that there has been a dramatic decrease in religiosity in recent years. In 1990 it was found that 6 percent said they were non-religious but the new survey by the American Religion Indentification Survey puts the number at 13 percent. This survey shows non-religious Americans as being 15% of the population.

And while the totally non-religious are a relatively small percentage a much larger percentage have dropped religion in its traditional form, that is they don’t attend church or affiliate with a religious body though they still think of themselves as Christians. These people are secular in everything but name.

One Catholic priest admitted: “My fear is the strength of secularization, the influence of Americanized pop culture. Is the spiritual tradition of the church, Catholic and Protestant, strong enough to withstand the secularizing cultural influences?”

The American Religion Identification Survey found that the fastest growing religious indentification “in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification; their number has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just eight perent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001. It might be even higher since there was also a dramatic increase in the number of people who refused to answer the question, from 2 percent in 1990 to 5 percent in 2001.

One interesting statistic, which we have found repeated in numerous other studies, shows that the more fundamentalist an individual the more likely they are to have a failed marriage. While 9% of people without religion are divorced or separated the figures are higher for fundamentalists: 12% for Baptists, 14% for Pentecostals, 10% for Assemblies of God and 11% for Seventh Day Adventists.

Another interesting statistic is the coversion rates in different groups. That is how many people were new adherent to a religion and how many left the same religion.. Catholics lost twice as many people as they converted. Baptist lost 200,000 more than they “saved”. The non-religious had 1.1 million become religious but had 6.6 million who were previously religious give up the belief. Methodists lost 1.1 million more than they gained, while Lutherans and Presbyterians each lost 100,000. Even the incessant recruitment campaigns of the Mormons didn’t do them much good. where they gained 447,000 they lost 446,000, which is hardly any growth at all.

Even in Utah the Mormons are losing the race. Few are converting in and migration to Utah is quickly changing the religious make up of the state. The 2004 count showed that 62% of the population is still Mormon but every county saw a decrease and it is expected to fall below 50% by 2030.

In fact there are vast discrepencies between the numbers the Mormoms claims to have as member and the numbers of people who claim to be Mormon. In Mexico the Mormons claim to have 850,000 members yet only 205,000 Mexicans claim to be Mormon. In Brazil the church claims to have 743,000 members but only 200,000 claim to belong. The Mormons say 91,000 New Zealanders are members of the church but only 40,000 Kiwis say they belong. Membership is the UK is supposedly 177,000 but 62,000 define themselves as Mormon, in Germany the number of self-identified Mormons is only one-third the number the church claims. In fact it is pretty common for the church to claim members which are 300% to 400% higher than what people themselves say.

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Blogger Ethereal said...

Good article. I have a question for you if I may? I noticed that in black communities that is a lot of poverty, there is also a lot of churches. In my hometown, it's a poor city, but there are many churches that has a lot of rich pastors in it as well.

I think that in poor areas, there are a lot of churches that prey upon the weak.

So my question to you is, have you also noticed this as well?


April 15, 2007

Blogger IConrad said...

As to the count & location of churches: I would say, "yes."

As an avowed life-long "devout atheist", however, I still take umbrage with the term, "take advantage."

They provide a service. That service is psychological in nature, but it is still a service.

There is also an actual economic benefit to church communities in the poor areas; it establishes and develops a strong gift economy amongst congregation-goers. This unfortunately serves to make it more difficult to *ESCAPE* the income-range, but it *DOES* support those at the lowest end of that income range. Gift economies tend to be extremely unstable in a market economy; religion serves as a sort of psychological "glue" which adheres to this. Of course, gift economies are also extremely easily corrupted; hence the general plague of corrupt preachers & money-grubbers.

A more conscientious, consciously directed effort at reproducing the same might just have a less restraining impact, as well as being less corrupt-able, but that's another story altogether.

April 16, 2007

Blogger GodlessZone said...

Robert: Yes, I have noticed that. There is a strong correlation between poverty and religiousity. This remains true across the board, around the world. The mot orthodox of any faith tend to be the poorest.

April 19, 2007

Blogger Einzige said...

Is a serious web page, or satire? It's hard to be sure.

April 23, 2007

Blogger IKnowLittle said...

The reason there are so many churches in poor communities is because there are people who are, well, poor. When we are in need we call to others for help, sense humans are often cruel or selfish we tend to turn to God. When we are rich we forget our maker to our world around us, the multiple churchs come from a large community's need for help. Though when you think about it logically, if, instead of having multiple small churches they had few or one large one, it would form a money pool which could raise the poor from poverty if used correctly.

August 13, 2008

Blogger GodlessZone said...

Dear Knowlittle. You say when we are in need you call on people but "sense (sic) humans are often cruel and selfish, we tend to turn to God."

Take any disaster. People pray and die. No evidence that prayer saves them. But people do save them. God apparently does nothing but those nasty humans you talk about pour in aid and risk their own lives. Of course you have an antihuman viewpoint, I don't.

The rest of what you said, I will ignore, since it was rather incoherent to me. It rambles but doesn't actually say anything of substance.

August 13, 2008

Blogger Jeff said...

All this talk about poorness being associated with religion is a little confusing. I thought the richest country in the world was the US which is basically regarded as being a Christian country.

January 02, 2009

Blogger GodlessZone said...

Within the US the poorest are the most fervent Christians while the wealthiest are more likely to be non-Christians or "liberal" Christians who don't take the Bible seriously.

January 02, 2009


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