The Changing “Faith” of America

The Changing “Faith” of America
Paulette Brown-Hinds, PHD

Paulette Brown-Hinds, PHD

While the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, a study released this week by the Pew Research Center presents a picture of a changing religious landscape with the number of Christians declining as unaffiliated and other faiths continue to grow.

The center’s second U.S. Religious Landscape Study is a follow-up to the first comprehensive study of religion in America.

Since the U.S. census does not ask Americans about their religion there are no official government statistics on the religious composition of the U.S. public, researchers explained.

With samples taken first in 2007 and then in 2014, the study surveyed more than 35,000 Americans and in that period the percentage of adults who identify as Christian dropped from 78.4 percent in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014. According to researchers, during the same period, Americans who identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated jumped from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent. And Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also rose from 4.7 percent in 2007 to 5.9 percent in 2014. In addition, the study showed, older people as well as millennials are increasingly disavowing association with organized religion.

Much like the rest of the country, the Inland region has witnessed a steady change in the way people identify — or do not identify — with organized religion, the type of worship experience they expect, or choosing to promote no religion at all. The recent billboard campaign funded by the Inland Empire Coalition of Reason aimed at increasing the visibility of agnostics and atheists, is one such example. One billboard, located off the 10 and 215 Freeways in Colton asked the question, “Don’t believe in God?”…You are not alone. And then directs interested individuals to the COR website.

This week we begin the first in a series of stories on worship and faith in the Inland region with a story on the First Congregational Church of Riverside and its progressive social justice mission, including its current effort to encourage the gay, lesbian, and transgender community to join the assembly. Future issues will feature Allen Chapel AME, one of Riverside’s oldest churches, local Cops and Clergy activities, and millennials’ perspectives on the future of organized religion. We look forward to sharing these stories with you.


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