[02.27.08] Compared with nearly 70 percent a few decades ago, only 51 percent of Americans today are Protestant, or members of an evangelical, mainline or historically black church, according to a survey released by the Pew Forum this week.
As Protestantism approached minority status in the U.S., the extensive study revealed Catholicism, which accounts for 24 percent of the U.S. population, would’ve seen heavier losses if not for the mitigating factor of an influx of immigrant Catholics. Immigration also disproportionately accounted for the presence of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism in the U.S.
The study showed that various religious groups simultaneously gained and lost members over the years, with Jehovah's Witnesses maintaining the worst retention rate.
More than 40 percent of the population reported no longer being affiliated with the religious or secular tradition of their childhood, demonstrating how fluid Americans’ belief systems have become.