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Religious Affiliation in the US: 1990-2001

How Americans Identify Themselves

So you thought that only conservative churches were growing, or that Christianity in general was in a period of rapid decline during the 1990's.

Think again. When asked, "What is your religion, if any?," researchers found that Americans identified themselves as being affiliated with specific denominations. Extrapolated across the entire population, these responses indicate patterns of affiliation, including growth or decline of various denominations across an eleven year period. Surprisingly, the fastest growing denominational group in the US during this period was also one of the most liberal, namely, the United Church of Christ. Baptists, considered one of the more conservative groups, showed no growth, and another conservative denomination, the Jehovah's Witnesses, actually saw a decline in the number of people identifying themselves as such. Meanwhile, the Presbyterians and Episcopalians, though caught up during this period in painful battles over the ordination of gay and lesbian members, also posted solid gains.

Denomination1990
Adults
2001
Adults
% of U.S. Pop.,
2001
% Change
1990 - 2001
Catholic46,004,00050,873,00024.5%+11%
Baptist33,964,00033,830,00016.3%0%
Methodist/Wesleyan14,174,00014,150,0006.8%0%
Lutheran9,110,0009,580,0004.6%+5%
Presbyterian4,985,0005,596,0002.7%+12%
Pentecostal/Charismatic3,191,0004,407,0002.1%+38%
Episcopalian/Anglican3,042,0003,451,0001.7%+13%
Judaism3,137,0002,831,0001.3%-10%
Latter-day Saints/Mormon2,487,0002,697,0001.3%+8%
Churches of Christ1,769,0002,593,0001.2%+47%
Congregational/
United Church of Christ
599,0001,378,0000.7%+130%
Jehovah's Witnesses1,381,0001,331,0000.6%-4%
Assemblies of God660,0001,106,0000.5%+68%

Source: The American Religious Identification Survey

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
  CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here.
God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion:
Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.  

For more information about Charles Henderson.