New Denominational Survey

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Bugman, Sep 18, 2002.

  1. Bugman

    Bugman
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    http://www.nj.com/newsflash/national/index.ssf?/cgi-free/getstory_ssf.cgi?a0416_BC_ReligionCensus&&news&newsflash-national

    Survey of U.S. religions finds growth among evangelicals, Roman Catholics

    By RACHEL ZOLL
    The Associated Press
    9/18/02 1:11 AM

    The Mormon church and evangelical faiths grew during the past decade while more liberal Protestant denominations shrank, according to a new census of U.S. religions conducted by a Roman Catholic research group.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grew at the fastest rate, with the Pentecostal denomination Assemblies of God following closely behind, the 2000 Religious Congregations & Membership study found.

    The Roman Catholic Church also posted strong growth while its population shifted. More Catholics now live in the West than the traditionally Catholic Midwest, and the Catholic population in the South grew faster than it did in the Northeast.

    "That has a lot to do with the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States," said researcher Clifford Grammich, who collected Catholic figures for the study. "How well the church has been holding onto Hispanic Catholics, a study like this can't determine."

    The survey is conducted once a decade and was released Tuesday.

    The latest version includes Muslims for the first time, finding 1.6 million in the United States. The count was lower by millions than some other surveys, but researchers said the figure was only a tally of those active in mosques, not the total American Muslim population. Estimates of all Muslims vary dramatically from 2 million to 6 million.

    The study was conducted by the Glenmary Research Center in Nashville, Tenn., a Catholic research and social service organization that coordinates the study with analysts from several faiths. It's one of just a few religious surveys across denominations.

    The 149 participating faiths sent membership estimates to Glenmary, which adjusted the figures to make them comparable. The U.S. Census Bureau does not collect information on religion.

    The numbers for each denomination may not be exact, but are close enough to help uncover important trends, said the Rev. Dale Jones, a Church of the Nazarene minister who oversaw the survey.

    Jones said one of the most troubling trends was that, in most areas, religious groups failed to increase the percentage of members compared with the total population. This was especially pronounced in the West, where denominations claim the smallest percentage of members.

    People there "consider themselves religious, but some will say you don't need to belong to a church to be religious," Jones said.

    The study found the Los Angeles metropolitan area was the most diverse urban center, with 106 different denominations reporting members. Illinois was the most diverse state with 120 different faiths.

    The evangelical Southern Baptist Convention grew by only 4.9 percent during the last decade, but remained the nation's largest Protestant group, with nearly 20 million members, according to Glenmary. Other surveys put the Southern Baptist figure closer to 16 million.

    Roman Catholics remained the largest denomination in the country, growing 16 percent to 62 million believers. The Mormon church grew about 19 percent to 4.2 million members, while the Assemblies of God grew nearly as quickly to 2.6 million.

    The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was among moderate and liberal Protestant denominations posting a significant loss, dropping by nearly 12 percent to 3.1 million. Mainline Protestant churches have been losing members for decades.

    The study put the Jewish population at 6 million, but Jones said the figure researchers gave Glenmary included Jews who were not members of congregations and therefore was difficult to compare to other participating denominations.

    Predominantly black denominations, such as the National Baptist Convention, did not participate in the study, since many lack the resources to count their membership, Jones said.

    Bryan
     
  2. Baptist Believer

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    I'm not sure I trust these statistics... Southern Baptists have never claimed 20 million members. The fashionable figure in SBC life right now is about 16 million. In real life, Southern Baptists probably don't know where at least 6 million of those people are... There are likely a number of them that are being counted by one or more churches and many who don't attend church anymore.

    Do these figures sound funny to anyone else?
     
  3. Rev. Joshua

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    I'm not surprised to see the evangelical groups growing and the mainline shrinking (although 20 million for the SBC is vastly over-inflated). Sadly, the key weakness of the mainline denominations continues to be their unwillingness to evangelize (hey - just because their my kin doesn't mean I don't see our flaws). Likewise, the evangelicals and the Mormons give people what they want - a solid, black-and-white worldview with no grey in between or questions unanswered.

    Joshua
     
  4. All about Grace

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    Of course this is not a problem with any other denomination is it?

    If I am a "mainliner", why should I evangelize? I have no authoritative book, no authoritative message, no confidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be, no reason to believe it is all not just some hoax, and no reason to suggest that anyone's eternal damnation is at stake.

    Liberalism does not grow churches. It destroyes them. The sad reality is that even the dwindling numbers among liberal churches is misleading b/c most of those churches have conservative roots.

    [ September 18, 2002, 12:35 PM: Message edited by: SBCbyGRACE ]
     
  5. Baptist Believer

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    I’m sure it is. I wasn’t trying to dig at the SBC here, but I am most familiar with the official membership numbers of the SBC. For instance, I also highly suspect the Mormons of inflating their numbers for the sake of their missionary sales calls. All organizations have the temptation to put themselves in the best possible light. It’s human nature.
     
  6. rsr

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    Because of the way they keep numbers, this may be a bigger problem with the SBC than some others. I read an analysis by an AP writer (I'm still trying to locate a copy) that said the United Methodist Church undercounts, and if the SBC inflation and the UMC undercounting were factored, the UMC would actually be the largest Protestant denomination in the country.
     
  7. mark

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    The counting thing is kind of an issue. The IBF church I now belong to and the GARBC church I belonged to before we moved to a new town, both had procedures to remove inactive members from the rolls. I was born into a family that was Presbyterian and I was sprinkled as a baby, and I think as far as the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, Iowa is concerned I am still on the membership rolls. Kind of like voters in Chicago.
     
  8. Scott J

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    No. The key problem with "mainline" denominations is their unbiblical doctrines and ethics give them a weak base for evangelism.
    You are kidding right? People don't want the church to approve of their ungodly behaviour? Since when?

    If anything, the greatest obstacle for we evangelicals is that people will not accept the Bible's absolutes. But we are out there trying to reach the lost because we believe the truth of the gospel as taught in the Bible and obey the command to spread it. The least compassionate thing a witness can do for the lost is agree with situational morality. If there are no absolutes of sin, there is no absolute necessity of a Saviour.
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    [ September 20, 2002, 10:34 PM: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  10. rlvaughn

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    [ September 20, 2002, 10:21 PM: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  11. rlvaughn

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    There are 14 groups that reported more than 100,000 members to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches that did not participate in the RCMS 2000 study. These groups include:

    Denomination / Membership

    African Methodist Episcopal Church / 2,500,000
    African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church / 1,276,662
    Baptist Bible Fellowship / 1,200,000
    Christian Brethren / 100,000
    Christian Congregation, Inc. / 118,209
    Christian Methodist Episcopal Church / 784,114
    Church of God In Christ / 5,499,875
    Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministers International / 325,000
    Jehovah's Witnesses / 990,340
    National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. / 3,500,000
    National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc./ 8,200,000
    National Missionary Baptist Convention of America / 2,500,000
    Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. / 1,500,000
    Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc./ 2,500,000

    Many of the groups that did not participate which are listed above are African-American religious bodies. The absence of these bodies from the RCMS should be considered when one is studying religious adherence within areas of the country with a significant African-American population.

    [ September 20, 2002, 10:36 PM: Message edited by: rlvaughn ]
     
  12. Jamal5000

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    All too true. My church ranks in the lower part of this category. :(
     
  13. Sherrie

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    Hmmmmmm...its very interesting! But I am staying out of this one.

    Sherrie
     

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