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Muslim, Mormon numbers increase in US

CHICAGO--American Muslims grew in number over the past decade, outnumbering Jews for the first time in most of the Midwest and part of the South, while most mainline churches lost adherents, according to a census of American religions released on Tuesday.

The number of Muslim adherents rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions, said Dale Jones, a researcher who worked on the study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

“Christians are the largest group in every state, but some of the things we found interesting was the growth of the Mormons, who reported the largest numerical gain in 26 states,” said Jones, who presented the report to a conference in Chicago.

The number of Mormons, whose Utah-based church's formal name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grew by 45 percent to 6.1 million in 2010, according to the census, which asked 236 religions to count their own adherents. Family members of adherents were generally included in the numbers.

Roughly 55 percent of Americans attend services with enough regularity to be counted, according to the data. By comparison, most surveys estimate roughly 85 percent of Americans profess religious faith, though they may not attend services.

Some 158 million Americans were classified as “unclaimed” by any religion in the survey.

Among major religions, the census found the number of Catholics, the largest single faith, declined 5 percent to 58.9 million during the decade.

“Catholics had the largest numeric decline,” including big losses in Maine where a priest abuse scandal came to light, Jones said. In the New England region, Catholic funerals are outnumbering baptisms, he added.

Among the other largest U.S. faiths, adherents to the Southern Baptist Convention held steady at 19.9 million over the decade, the United Methodist Church lost 4 percent to 9.9 million adherents, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 18 percent to 4.2 million, and the Episcopal Church lost 15 percent of its adherents to 1.95 million.

Evangelical protestant congregations continued to grow, though slowly, to 50 million adherents. Most of the growth, surprisingly, was in urban areas and the vast majority of expanding congregations have fewer than 100 members and are not large mega churches, Jones said.

Jones said Buddhists made strong gains in the Rocky Mountain states, where the number of temples and congregations increased markedly. The total number of Buddhist adherents in the United States was nearly 1 million. There was no estimate in 2000.

“Based on some of the temple names, I think some of the upscale yuppie types are looking for something different than the church they grew up in,” Jones said.

May 3, 2012    ytrent2012@
Good to see America becoming less dominated by Protestantism, hopefully more tolerance and mutual understanding will result.

The under-reported fact is the drop in both believers and practitioners of faith in the US over the same period; if agnosticism was rightly counted as a faith it would likely have outstripped the others in growth.
May 3, 2012    Quiet_Dave_2005@
Take note, that it is those churches that demand some real commitment from their adherents that are growing and not shrinking. Those mainline faiths that have gone squishy on doctrine and principles seem to be shrinking, those holding firm to a standard are growing. Men seek answers and vagueness in understanding and preaching does not instill confidence. Religion should be based on "Truth", something that doesn't change with every passing fade, but holds firm and fixed.
May 4, 2012    dhrogers@
Considering the high percentage of charitable giving by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which benefits society, growth of the Mormon Church is a good thing.

In the year 2007 alone, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded to major earthquakes in 5 countries, massive fires in 6 countries, hunger and famine in 18 countries, and flooding and severe storms in 34 countries. In total the Church and its members responded to 170 major events — nearly one every two days for the entire year. The motivation behind this vast global work centers on the simple charge given by Jesus so many years ago to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints conducts humanitarian activities worldwide. From 1985 to 2009 Humanitarian Services provided more than $1.2 billion in total assistance to needy individuals in 178 countries and territories. This church has 16 million members world-wide and five million in the United States. They were first at Katrina and brought food, clothing, and their hard backs and arms to help there.

In 1996 the Church organized Latter-day Saint Charities as a non-governmental organization to facilitate humanitarian activities in selected countries.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides relief and development projects for humanitarian purposes in countries all over the world. Projects operate without regard to the nationality or religion of the recipients.

* Humanitarian service may include emergency response to natural disasters, such as an earthquake or a tsunami, or man-made disasters, such as the effects of war and famine. It may also be part of a longer-term effort to meet serious and more entrenched human needs, such as the need to alleviate disease.

* Within hours of a disaster, the Church works with local government officials to determine what supplies and food are needed. Materials are then immediately sent to the area.

* After urgent needs are met, the Church looks for additional ways to help with the long-term needs of the community. The Church’s approach is to help people become self-reliant by teaching skills and providing resources for a self-sustained life.
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