Religion in the United States
|Part of a series on the|
Religion in the United States is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. Various religious faiths have flourished, as well as perished, in the United States. A majority of Americans report that religion plays a "very important" role in their lives, a proportion unique among developed countries.
The majority of Americans (73%) identify themselves as Christians and about 20% have no religious affiliation. According to the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2008, 76% of the American adult population identified themselves as Christians, with 51% professing attendance at a variety of churches that could be considered Protestant or unaffiliated, and 25% professing Catholic beliefs. The same survey says that other religions (including, for example, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) collectively make up about 4% of the adult population, another 15% of the adult population claim no religious affiliation, and 5.2% said they did not know, or they refused to reply. According to a 2012 survey by the Pew forum, 36 percent of Americans state that they attend services nearly every week or more. According to the 2011 Gallup poll, Mississippi is the most religious state in the country, while Vermont is the least religious state.
- Overview 1
- Freedom of religion 2
Abrahamic religions 3
- Christianity 3.1
- Judaism 3.2
- Islam 3.3
- Bahá'í Faith 3.4
Asian religions 4
- Buddhism 4.1
- Hinduism 4.2
- Jainism 4.3
- Sikhism 4.4
- Taoism 4.5
No religion 5
Agnosticism, atheism, and humanism 5.1
- Deism 5.1.1
- Belief in the existence of a god 5.1.2
- Agnosticism, atheism, and humanism 5.1
- Native American religions 6.1
- Druidry 6.2.1
- Wicca 6.2.2
- New Thought Movement 6.3
- Unitarian Universalism 6.4
- Major denominations founded in the United States 7
- Government positions 8
- Attendance 9.1
- Religion and politics 10
Membership reported by congregations 11
- Christian bodies 11.1
- ARDA survey 11.2
- ARIS findings regarding self-identification 12
- Ethnicity 13
- See also 14
- Bibliography 15.1
- External links 16
From early colonial days, when some English and German settlers came in search of religious freedom, America has been profoundly influenced by religion. That influence continues in American culture, social life, and politics. Several of the original Thirteen Colonies were established by settlers who wished to practice their own religion within a community of like-minded people: the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established by English Puritans (Congregationalists), Pennsylvania by British Quakers, Maryland by English Catholics, and Virginia by English Anglicans. Despite these, and as a result of intervening religious strife and preference in England the Plantation Act 1740 would set official policy for new immigrants coming to British America until the American Revolution.
The text of the First Amendment to the country's Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It guarantees the free exercise of religion while also preventing the government from establishing a state religion. The Supreme Court has also interpreted this as preventing the government from having any authority in religion.
According to a 2002 survey by the Pew forum, nearly 6 in 10 Americans said that religion plays an important role in their lives, compared to 33% in Great Britain, 27% in Italy, 21% in Germany, 12% in Japan and 11% in France. The survey report stated that the results showed America having a greater similarity to developing nations (where higher percentages say that religion plays an important role) than to other wealthy nations, where religion plays a minor role.
In 1963, 90% of Americans claimed to be Christians while only 2% professed no religious identity. In 2012, the percentage of Christians was closer to 70% with close to 20% claiming no religious identity.
Freedom of religion
Although some New England States continued to use tax money to fund local Congregational churches into the 1830s, the United States claims to have been the first nation to have no official state-endorsed religion.
Modeling the provisions concerning religion within the
- Association of Religion Data Archives
- 2008 ARIS Survey
- CNN Article on 2008 Pew Results, 2/25/2008
- Religious Affiliation Underestimated in U.S., Study Shows
- Map Gallery of Religion in the United States
- Largest Religious Groups in the United States of America
- U.S. Census links and Statistical Abstract – ARIS Data – PDF & XLS (Excel)
- USA – Population statistics by religion
- Is America Too *** Religious?—from NPR.
- None of the above: the growth of the "non-religious" – from IBCSR.
- Religious, not spiritual article on religiosity vs. spirituality in America.
- Charles Reagan Wilson, "Overview: Religion and the U.S. South", Southern Spaces, March 16, 2004.
- USA Today Interactive Tables – Shifting Religious Identitites and Topography of faith
- How many people go regularly to weekly religious services? – From Religious Tolerance website.
- The American Religious Landscape and Political Attitudes: A Baseline for 2004.
- Material History of American Religion
|Religions by country|
- Buck, Christopher (2009). Religious myths and visions of America: how minority faiths redefined America's world role. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers. .
- Richard Dawkins, "Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America", in The God Delusion, Black Swan, 2007 (ISBN 978-0-552-77429-1).
- De La Torre, Miguel A., Encyclopedia on Hispanic American Religious Culture 2 vol, ABC-CLIO Publishers, 2009.
- Gordon, Melton, J. Encyclopedia of American Religions (7th ed. Thomson, 2003) 1408pp
- Hill, Samuel S., Charles H. Lippy, and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds. Encyclopedia of Religion in the South (2005)
- Lippy, Charles H., ed. Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience (3 vol Scribners, 1988)
- National Council of the Churches of Christ. Yearbook of American Churches: 2010 (2010)
- Putnam, Robert D., and David E Campbell American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2010) excerpt and text search
- Queen, Edward L. et al. eds, Encyclopedia of American Religious History (3rd ed. 3 vol, Facts on File, 2009)
- Nones" on the Rise""". The Pew Forum. 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Among Wealthy Nations U.S. Stands Alone in its Embrace of Religion". Pew Global Attitudes Project. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
- Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar (2009). "American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2008" (PDF). Hartford, Connecticut, USA: Trinity College. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
- US Census Bureau (Internet Release Date: 09/30/2011). "Table 75. Self-Described Religious Identification of Adult Population: 1990, 2001 and 2008, The methodology of the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS)". US Census Bureau 2012 Statistical Abstract. Retrieved Feb 11, 2012.
- "The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life – Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths". Pewforum.org. 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Sydney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (Yale UP, 2nd ed. 2004) ISBN 0-300-10012-4
- Kevin M. Schultz, and Paul Harvey, "Everywhere and Nowhere: Recent Trends in American Religious History and Historiography", Journal of the American Academy of Religion, March 2010, Vol. 78 Issue 1, pp. 129–162
- See: English Civil War, Glorious Revolution, Restoration (England) and Nonconformists
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- Feldman, Noah (2005). Divided by God. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, pg. 10 ("For the first time in recorded history, they designed a government with no established religion at all.")
- Marsden, George M. 1990. Religion and American Culture. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, pp. 45–46.
- Paulson, Michael (2008-02-26). "US religious identity is rapidly changing". The Boston Globe. Boston Globe
- "News from the National Council of Churches". Ncccusa.org. 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
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- "Annual of the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- McKinney, William. "Mainline Protestantism 2000." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 558, Americans and Religions in the Twenty-First Century (July, 1998), pp. 57-66.
- B.DRUMMOND AYRES Jr. (2011-12-19). "THE EPISCOPALIANS: AN AMERICAN ELITE WITH ROOTS GOING BACK TO JAMESTOWN". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Irving Lewis Allen, "WASP—From Sociological Concept to Epithet," Ethnicity, 1975 154+
- "Largest Latter-day Saint Communities (Mormon/Church of Jesus Christ Statistics)". adherents.com. 2005-04-12.
- "American Religious Identification Survey". Exhibit 15. The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Retrieved 2006-11-24.
- "Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years".
- US Religious Landscape Survey: Diverse and Dynamic (PDF), The Pew Forum, February 2008, p. 85, retrieved 2012-09-17
- Leonhardt, David (2011-05-13). "Faith, Education and Income". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Taylor, Humphrey (October 15, 2003), "The #59", HarrisInteractive.com (
- Kosmin, Mayer & Keysar (2001-12-19). "American Identification Survey, 2001" (PDF). The Graduate Center of the City University of New York New York. pp. 8–9. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- "Jewish Community Study of New York" (PDF). United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York. 2002. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- "CIA Fact Book". CIA World Fact Book. 2002. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
- "Religious Composition of the U.S.". U.S Religious Landscape Survey. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. February 2008. p. 21. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
- Jack Wertheimer (2002). Jews in the Center: Conservative Synagogues and Their Members. Rutgers University Press. p. 68.
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- Ira M. Sheskin and Arnold Dashefsky, University of Miami and University of Connecticut (2009). "Jewish Population of the United States, 2009". Mandell L. Berman North American Jewish Data Bank in cooperation with the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry and the Jewish Federations of North America. The authors concluded the 6,543,820 figure was an over-count, due to people who live in more than one state during a year.
- "The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), Year 2000 Report". Churches were asked for their membership numbers. ARDA estimates that most of the churches not reporting were black Protestant congregations.
- "2001 National Jewish Population Survey". Ujc.org. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Lisa Aiken, The Baal Teshuva Survival Guide (Rossi Publications, 2009), pp. 1–3
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- "Demographics". Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Tweed, Thomas A. "Islam in America: From African Slaves to Malcolm X". National Humanities Center. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
- Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America: From the New World to the New World Order (Cambridge University Press; 2010) pp. 59–94
- Timothy Miller (1995). America's alternative religions. State University of New York Press. p. 280.
- Mattias Gardell, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam (Duke University Press, 1996)
- C. Eric Lincoln, The Black Muslims in America (3rd ed. Eerdmans, 1994)
- "First Muslim Elected to Congress". Cbsnews.com. 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Cebula, Judith (2008-03-11). "Second Muslim elected to Congress". Reuters.com. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Zogby phone survey". Projectmaps.com. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
- "America's Muslims after 9/11". Voice of America.
- "Muslim Americans, Pew Research Center" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions (2003) pp. 992–995
- "The Religious Freedom Page". University of Virginia Library.
- "Religious Composition of the U.S.". U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
- Kosmin, Mayer & Keysar (2001-12-19). "American Identification Survey, 2001" (PDF). The Graduate Center of the City University of New York New York. p. 13. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- "Religious Composition of the U.S.". U.S Religious Landscape Survey. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. February 2008. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- "About JAINA". Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- The Pioneers, America, "A historical perspective of Americans of Asian Indian origin 1790–1997" October 31, 2006
- Stockton Gurdwara, America, "Stockton California" October 31, 2006
- "largest religious groups in the US". Adherents.com. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Taoism at a glance". Bbc.co.uk. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Unaffiliated". Pew Forum. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Phillips, Erica E.; Kesling, Ben (9–10 March 2013). "Some Church Folk Ask: 'What Would Jesus Brew?'".
- "Atheists Are Distrusted". May 3, 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
- Paulos, John Allen (April 2, 2006). "Who's Counting: Distrusting Atheists". ABC News. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
- "Atheists identified as America's most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study". UMN News. Retrieved 2006-03-22.
- "Pew survey: Doubt of God growing quickly among millennials". Religion.blogs.cnn.com. 2012-08-16. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Raushenbush, Paul (2012-03-24). "Atheists Rally On National Mall". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "Reason The Only Oracle Of Man"Excerpts from Allen's . Ethan Allen Homestead Museum.
- Newport, Frank (2008-07-28). "Belief in God Far Lower in Western U.S.".
- Eric Ferreri (2011-08-16). "according to Mark Chaves". Today.duke.edu. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- "What People Do and Do Not Believe in". Harris Interactive. 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
- "More Than 9 in 10 Americans Continue to Believe in God". Gallup.com. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Merica, Dan (2012-06-12). "Pew Survey: Doubt of God Growing Quickly among Millennials". CNN. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- "Religiosity and Atheism" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Utter, Jack. American Indians: Answers to Today's Questions. 2nd edition. University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. P. 145.
- Or about .003% of the U.S. population of 300 million. James T. Richardson (2004). Regulating Religion: Case Studies from Around the Globe. Springer. p. 543.
- Introduction to Pagan Studies – Page 151, Barbara Jane Davy – 2007
- The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy – Page 84, Rosemary Guiley – 2006
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- Adler 2006. pp. 337–339.
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- (The 4th principle of Unitarian Universalism)UUA.org Seven principles
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- Thomas Berg. "The Pledge of Allegiance and the Limited State". Texas Review of Law and Politics, Vol. 8, Fall 2003.
- Scott A. Merriman. Religion and the Law in America: An Encyclopedia of Personal Belief and Public Policy.
- Natalie Goldstein, Walton Brown-Foster. Religion and the State.
Ann W. Duncan, Steven L. Jones. Church-State Issues in America Today: Volume 2, Religion, Family, and Education. Præger. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
Including God in the nation's pledge would send a clear message to the world that unlike communist regimes that denied God's existence, the United States recognized a Supreme Being. Official acknowledgement of God would further distinguish freedom-loving Americans from their atheist adversaries.
- "US Religious Landscape Survey". 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
- Media, Minorities, and Meaning: A Critical Introduction Debra L. Merskin – 2011 – Page 88
- Kaleem, Jaweed (May 17, 2014). "http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/17/religious-attendance-exaggeration-survey_n_5344535.html". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- "Harris Interactive survey". Harrisinteractive.com. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
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- One in 10' attends church weekly"'". BBC News. April 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- NCLS releases latest estimates of church attendance, National Church Life Survey, Media release, February 28, 2004
- "Religion Losing Influence in America". Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
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- "Exit poll - Decision 2004- NBCNews.com". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Michael Isikoff, "I'm a Sunni Muslim", Jan. 4, 2007Newsweek
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- see "Trends continue in church membership growth or decline, reports 2011 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches", News from the National Council of Churches (Feb. 14, 2011)
- "ARDA Sources for Religious Congregations & Membership Data".
- "The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), Year 2010 Report".
- "U.S.Religious Landscape Survey, Pew Forum (February 2008)" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Freedom of religion in the United States
- Historical religious demographics of the United States
- List of religious movements that began in the United States
- Relationship between religion and science
- Religion in United States prisons
- Separation of church and state in the United States
|Other world religions||<0.5%||<0.5%||2%||<0.5%||<0.5%|
|Unaffiliated (including atheist and agnostic)||16%||12%||23%||20%||14%|
The table below shows the religious affiliations among the ethnicities in the United States, according to the Pew Forum 2007 survey. People of Black ethnicity were most likely to be part of a formal religion, with 85% percent being Christians. Protestant denominations make up the majority of the Christians in the ethnicities.
- The ARIS 2008 survey was carried out during February–November 2008 and collected answers from 54,461 respondents who were questioned in English or Spanish.
The American population self-identifies as predominantly Christian but Americans are slowly becoming less Christian.
- 86% of American adults identified as Christians in 1990 and 76% in 2008.
- The historic Mainline churches and denominations have experienced the steepest declines while the non-denominational Christian identity has been trending upward particularly since 2001.
- The challenge to Christianity in the U.S. does not come from other religions but rather from a rejection of all forms of organized religion.
- 34% of American adults considered themselves "Born Again or Evangelical Christians" in 2008.
The U. S. population continues to show signs of becoming less religious, with one out of every seven Americans failing to indicate a religious identity in 2008.
- The "Nones" (no stated religious preference, atheist, or agnostic) continue to grow, though at a much slower pace than in the 1990s, from 8.2% in 1990, to 14.1% in 2001, to 15.0% in 2008.
- Asian Americans are substantially more likely to indicate no religious identity than other racial or ethnic groups.
- One sign of the lack of attachment of Americans to religion is that 27% do not expect a religious funeral at their death.
- Based on their stated beliefs rather than their religious identification in 2008, 70% of Americans believe in a personal God, roughly 12% of Americans are atheist (no God) or agnostic (unknowable or unsure), and another 12% are deistic (a higher power but no personal God).
- America's religious geography has been transformed since 1990. Religious switching along with Hispanic immigration has significantly changed the religious profile of some states and regions. Between 1990 and 2008, the Catholic population proportion of the New England states fell from 50% to 36% and in New York it fell from 44% to 37%, while it rose in California from 29% to 37% and in Texas from 23% to 32%.
- Overall the 1990–2008 ARIS time series shows that changes in religious self-identification in the first decade of the 21st century have been moderate in comparison to the 1990s, which was a period of significant shifts in the religious composition of the United States.
in % of
|Adult population, total||175,440||207,983||228,182||30.1%|
|Adult population, responded||171,409||196,683||216,367||26.2%||97.7%||94.6%||94.8%||−2.9%|
|United Church of Christ||438||1,378||736||68.0%||0.2%||0.7%||0.3%||0.1%|
|Protestant – Unspecified||17,214||4,647||5,187||−69.9%||9.8%||2.2%||2.3%||−7.5%|
|Pentecostal – Unspecified||3,116||4,407||5,416||73.8%||1.8%||2.1%||2.4%||0.6%|
|Assemblies of God||617||1,105||810||31.3%||0.4%||0.5%||0.4%||0.0%|
|Church of God||590||943||663||12.4%||0.3%||0.5%||0.3%||0.0%|
|Other Protestant Denominations||4,630||5,949||7,131||54.0%||2.6%||2.9%||3.1%||0.5%|
|Churches of Christ||1,769||2,593||1,921||8.6%||1.0%||1.2%||0.8%||−0.2%|
|Mormon/Latter Day Saints||2,487||2,697||3,158||27.0%||1.4%||1.3%||1.4%||0.0%|
|Total non-Christian religions||5,853||7,740||8,796||50.3%||3.3%||3.7%||3.9%||0.5%|
|New Religious Movements & Others||1,296||1,770||2,804||116.4%||0.7%||0.9%||1.2%||0.5%|
|None/No religion, total||14,331||29,481||34,169||138.4%||8.2%||14.2%||15.0%||6.8%|
|Did Not Know/Refused to reply||4,031||11,300||11,815||193.1%||2.3%||5.4%||5.2%||2.9%|
Religious Self-Identification of the U.S. Adult Population: 1990, 2001, 2008
Figures are not adjusted for refusals to reply; investigators suspect refusals are possibly more representative of "no religion" than any other group.
Adult respondents were asked the open-ended question, "What is your religion, if any?" Interviewers did not prompt or offer a suggested list of potential answers. The religion of the spouse or partner was also asked. If the initial answer was "Protestant" or "Christian" further questions were asked to probe which particular denomination. About one third of the sample was asked more detailed demographic questions.
The United States government does not collect religious data in its census. The survey below, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2008, was a random digit-dialed telephone survey of 54,461 American residential households in the contiguous United States. The 1990 sample size was 113,723; 2001 sample size was 50,281.
ARIS findings regarding self-identification
|Total US pop year 2010||308,745,538||100.0%|
|other – including Mormon & Christ Scientist||13,146,919||4.3%|
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon, LDS)||6,144,582||2.0%|
|other – excluding Mormon||7,002,337||2.3%|
The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) surveyed congregations for their memberships. Churches were asked for their membership numbers. Adjustments were made for those congregations that did not respond and for religious groups that reported only adult membership. ARDA estimates that most of the churches not responding were black Protestant congregations. Significant difference in results from other databases include the lower representation of adherents of 1> all kinds (62.7%), 2>Christians (59.9%) 3>Protestants (less than 36%); and the greater number of unaffiliated (37.3%).
|Religious body||Year reported||Places of worship reported||Membership (thousands)||Number of ministers|
|African Methodist Episcopal Church||1999||-||2,500||7,741|
|African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church||2002||3,226||1,431||3,252|
|American Baptist Association||1998||1,760||275||1,740|
|American Baptist Churches USA||1998||3,800||1,507||4,145|
|Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America||1998||220||65||263|
|Armenian Apostolic Church||1998||28||200||25|
|Assemblies of God USA||2009||12,371||2,914||34,504|
|Baptist Bible Fellowship International||1997||4,500||1,200||–|
|Baptist General Conference||1998||876||141||–|
|Baptist Missionary Association of America||1999||1,334||235||1,525|
|Christian and Missionary Alliance, The||1998||1,964||346||1,629|
|Plymouth Brethren Christian Church||1997||1,150||100||–|
|Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)||1997||3,818||879||3,419|
|Christian churches and churches of Christ||1998||5,579||1,072||5,525|
|Christian Congregation, Inc., The||1998||1,438||117||1,436|
|Christian Methodist Episcopal Church||1983||2,340||719||–|
|Christian Reformed Church in North America||1998||733||199||655|
|Church of God in Christ||1991||15,300||5,500||28,988|
|Church of God of Prophecy||1997||1,908||77||2,000|
|Church of God (Anderson, Indiana)||1998||2,353||234||3034|
|Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)||1995||6,060||753||3,121|
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)||2006||13,010||5,779||39,030|
|Church of the Brethren||1997||1,095||141||827|
|Church of the Nazarene||1998||5,101||627||4,598|
|Churches of Christ||1999||15,000||1,500||14,500|
|Conservative Baptist Association of America||1998||1,200||200||–|
|Community of Christ||1998||1,236||140||19,319|
|Coptic Orthodox Church||2003||200||1,000||200|
|Cumberland Presbyterian Church||1998||774||87||634|
|Evangelical Covenant Church, The||1998||628||97||607|
|Evangelical Free Church of America, The||1995||1,224||243||1,936|
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America||1998||10,862||5,178||9,646|
|Evangelical Presbyterian Church||1998||187||61||262|
|Free Methodist Church of North America||1998||990||73||–|
|Full Gospel Fellowship||1999||896||275||2,070|
|General Association of General Baptists||1997||790||72||1,085|
|General Association of Regular Baptist Churches||1998||1,415||102||–|
|U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches||1996||368||82||590|
|Grace Gospel Fellowship||1992||128||60||160|
|Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America||1998||523||1,955||596|
|Independent Fundamental Churches of America||1999||659||62||–|
|International Church of the Foursquare Gospel||1998||1,851||238||4,900|
|International Council of Community Churches||1998||150||250||182|
|International Pentecostal Holiness Church||1998||1,716||177||1,507|
|Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, The||1998||6,218||2,594||5,227|
|Mennonite Church USA||2005||943||114||–|
|National Association of Congregational Christian Churches||1998||416||67||534|
|National Association of Free Will Baptists||1998||2,297||210||2,800|
|National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.||1987||2,500||3,500||8,000|
|National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.||1992||33,000||8,200||32,832|
|National Missionary Baptist Convention of America||1992||–||2,500||–|
|Old Order Amish Church||1993||898||81||3,592|
|Orthodox Church in America||1998||625||28||700|
|Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc.||1998||1,750||1,500||4,500|
|Pentecostal Church of God||1998||1,237||104||–|
|Presbyterian Church in America||1997||1,340||280||1,642|
|Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)||1998||11,260||3,575||9,390|
|Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.||1995||2,000||2,500||–|
|Reformed Church in America||1998||902||296||915|
|Conservative Friends (Quakers)||1994||1,200||104||–|
|Romanian Orthodox Episcopate||1996||37||65||37|
|Salvation Army, The||1998||1,388||471||2,920|
|Serbian Orthodox Church||1986||68||67||60|
|Seventh-day Adventist Church||1998||4,405||840||2,454|
|Southern Baptist Convention||1998||40,870||16,500||71,520|
|United Church of Christ||1998||6,017||1,421||4,317|
|United Methodist Church, The||1998||36,170||8,400||–|
|Wesleyan Church, The||1998||1,590||120||1,806|
|Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod||1997||1,240||411||1,222|
Membership reported by congregations
The 2012 Republican presidential nominee Michigan. The Romneys were involved in Mormonism in their states and in the state of Utah.
A Gallup Poll released in 2007 indicated that 53% of Americans would refuse to vote for an atheist as president, up from 48% in 1987 and 1999.
Joe Biden is the first Catholic vice president.
- Alfred E. Smith in presidential election of 1928 was subjected to anti-Catholic rhetoric, which seriously hurt him in the Baptist areas of the South and Lutheran areas of the Midwest, but he did well in the Catholic urban strongholds of the Northeast.
- John F. Kennedy secured the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960. In the 1960 election, Kennedy faced accusations that as a Catholic President he would do as the Pope would tell him to do, a charge that Kennedy refuted in a famous address to Protestant ministers.
Only three presidential candidates for major parties have been Catholics, all for the Democratic party:
Politicians frequently discuss their religion when campaigning, and Democrats before the 1970s, while mainline Protestants comprised the core of the Republican Party. Those patterns have faded away—Catholics, for example, now split about 50–50. However, white evangelicals since 1980 have made up a solidly Republican group that favors conservative candidates. Secular voters are increasingly Democratic.
In August 2010 67% of Americans said religion is losing influence, compared with 59% who said this in 2006. Majorities of white evangelical Protestants (79%), while mainline Protestants (67%), Black Protestants (56%), Catholics (71%), and the religiously unaffiliated (62%) all agree that religion is losing influence on American life; 53% of the total public says this is a bad thing while just 10% see it as a good thing.
Religion and politics
|35||District of Columbia||36%|
In a 2009 Gallup International survey, 41.6% of American citizens said that they attended church or synagogue once a week or almost every week. This percentage is higher than other surveyed Western countries. Church attendance varies considerably by state and region. The figures ranged from 63% in Mississippi to 23% in Vermont.
In 2006, an online Harris Poll (they stated that the magnitude of errors cannot be estimated due to sampling errors, non-response,etc.; 2,010 U.S. adults were surveyed) found that 26% of those surveyed attended religious services "every week or more often", 9% went "once or twice a month", 21% went "a few times a year", 3% went "once a year", 22% went "less than once a year", and 18% never attend religious services.
A 2013 survey reported that 31% Americans attend religious services at least weekly. It was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute with a margin of error of 2.5.
|Affiliation||% of U.S. population|
|Nothing in particular||13.9||
|Don't know/refused answer||2||
- Christianity: (59.9% to 78.4%)
- Unaffiliated, including atheist or agnostic (15.0% to 37.3%)
- Judaism (1.2% to 2.2%)
- Islam (0.6%)
- Buddhism (0.5% to 0.9%)
- Hinduism (0.4%)
- Unitarian Universalism (0.3%)
- Wicca/Paganism/Druidry (0.1%)
- Other (~1%)
The U.S. Census does not ask about religion. Various groups have conducted surveys to determine approximate percentages of those affiliated with each religious group. Some surveys ask people to self-identify, while others calculate church memberships. The first table below represents the ranges that have been found.
Various American presidents have often stated the importance of religion. On February 20, 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated that "Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism." President Gerald Ford agreed with and repeated this statement in 1974.
The First Amendment guarantees both the free practice of religion and the non-establishment of religion by the federal government (later court decisions have extended that prohibition to the states). The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance was modified in 1954 to add the phrase "under God", in order to distinguish itself from the state atheism espoused by the Soviet Union.
- Anglican Church in North America – broke from the Episcopal Church in 2009 to protest against the latter denomination's liberalizing tendencies.
- Calvary Chapel
- Polish National Catholic Church – broke from Rome in 1897.
- Churches of Christ/Disciples of Christ – a restoration movement with no governing body. The Restoration Movement solidified as a historical phenomenon in 1832 when restorationists from two major movements championed by Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell merged.
- Pentecostalism – movement which emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit, finds its historic roots in the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California, from 1904 to 1906, sparked by Charles Parham.
- Adventism – began as an inter-denominational movement. Its most vocal leader was William Miller, who in the 1830s in New York became convinced of an imminent Second Coming of Jesus. The most prominent modern group to emerge from this is the Seventh-day Adventists.
- Nation of Islam – A sect of Islam, created and followed solely by African-Americans; redefined "Allah" as someone "who came in the person of W. D. Fard."
- The Latter Day Saint movement founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith in upstate New York. Multiple Latter Day Saint denomination can be found throughout the United States. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest denomination, is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Community of Christ, the second-largest denomination, is headquartered in Independence, Missouri.
- New Thought Movement – two of the early proponents of New Thought beliefs during the mid to late 19th century were Phineas Parkhurst Quimby and the Mother of New Thought Emma Curtis Hopkins. The three major branches are Religious Science, Unity Church and Divine Science.
- Jehovah's Witnesses – originated with the religious movement known as Bible Students, which was founded in Pennsylvania in the late 1870s by Charles Taze Russell. Loosely connected in its early years with Adventism, with which it shares some similarities.
- Scientology – founded by L. Ron Hubbard.
- Christian Science – founded by Mary Baker Eddy.
- Reconstructionist Judaism – founded by Mordecai Kaplan.
- Native American Church – founded by Quanah Parker beginning in the 1890s and incorporating in 1918.
- Church Of Satan – founded by Anton LaVey in San Francisco, California, 1966.
- Metropolitan Community Church – founded by Troy Perry in Los Angeles, California, 1968.
Major denominations founded in the United States
Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed; rather, they are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth and by the understanding that an individual's theology is a result of that search and not obedience to an authoritarian requirement.
. Divine Science and Unity Church, Religious Science. The movement had been previously known as the Mental Sciences or The Christian Sciences. The three major branches are Church of Christ, Scientist's Mary Baker Eddy ("teacher of teachers") after Hopkins broke off from Emma Curtis Hopkins The New Thought concept was named by  A group of churches which started in the 1830s in the United States is known under the banner of "
New Thought Movement
Wicca advanced in North America in the 1960s by Raymond Buckland, an expatriate Briton who visited Gardner's Isle of Man coven to gain initiation. Universal Eclectic Wicca was popularized in 1969 a diverse membership drawing from both Dianic and British Traditional Wiccan backgrounds.
According to the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) was founded by students at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota. They adopted elements of Neopaganism into their practices, for instance celebrating the festivals of the Wheel of the Year.
Neopaganism in the United States is represented by widely different Wicca, followed by Neo-Druidism. Other neopagan movements include Germanic Neopaganism, Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism, and Semitic Neopaganism.
Native American religions historically exhibited much diversity, and are often characterized by animism or panentheism. The membership of Native American religions in the 21st century comprises about 9000 people.
Native American religions
Many other religions are represented in the United States, including Shinto, Caodaism, Thelema, Santería, Kemetism, Religio Romana, Kaldanism, Zoroastrianism, Vodou, and many forms of New Age spirituality.
- A 2006 CBS News Poll of 899 U.S. adults found that 76% of those surveyed believed in a god, while 9% believed in "some other universal spirit or higher power", 8% believed in neither, and 1% were unsure.
- A 2007 Gallup Poll found that 86% of Americans believe in a god, with 8% saying they are not sure, and 6% saying they don't believe in a god.
- According to a 2008 ARIS survey, belief in god varies considerably by region. The lowest rate is in the West with 59% reporting a belief in God, and the highest rate in the South at 86%.
- Mark Chaves, a Duke University professor of sociology, religion and divinity, found that 92% of Americans believed in God in 2008, but that significantly fewer Americans have great confidence in their religious leaders than a generation ago.
- A 2008 survey of 1,000 people concluded that, based on their stated beliefs rather than their religious identification, 69.5% of Americans believe in a personal God, roughly 12.3% of Americans are atheist or agnostic, and another 12.1% are deistic (believing in a higher power/non-personal God, but no personal God).
- A late 2009 online Harris poll of 2,303 U.S. adults (18 and older) found that "82% of adult Americans believe in God", the same number as in two earlier polls in 2005 and 2007. Another 9% said they did not believe in God, and 9% said that they were not sure. It further concluded, "Large majorities also believe in miracles (76%), heaven (75%), that Jesus is God or the Son of God (73%), in angels (72%), the survival of the soul after death (71%), and in the resurrection of Jesus (70%). Less than half (45%) of adults believe in Darwin's theory of evolution but this is more than the 40% who believe in creationism..... Many people consider themselves Christians without necessarily believing in some of the key beliefs of Christianity. However, this is not true of born-again Christians. In addition to their religious beliefs, large minorities of adults, including many Christians, have "pagan" or pre-Christian beliefs such as a belief in ghosts, astrology, witches and reincarnation.... Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated."
- A 2010 Gallup poll found 80% of Americans believe in a god, 12% believe in a universal spirit, 6% don't believe in either, 1% chose "other", and 1% had no opinion. This is down only slightly from the 1940s, when Gallup first asked this question.
- A 2011 Gallup poll found 92% of Americans said yes to the basic question "Do you believe in God?", while 7% said no and 1% had no opinion.
- A 2012 Pew Research Center survey found that doubts about the existence of a god had grown among younger Americans, with 68% telling Pew they never doubt God's existence, a 15-point drop in five years. In 2007, 83% of American millennials said they never doubted God's existence.
- A 2012 WIN-Gallup International poll showed that 5% of Americans considered themselves "convinced" atheists, which was a fivefold increase from the last time the survey was taken in 2005, and 5% said they did not know or else did not respond.
Various polls have been conducted to determine Americans' actual beliefs regarding a god:
Belief in the existence of a god
In the United States, Enlightenment philosophy (which itself was heavily inspired by deist ideals) played a major role in creating the principle of religious freedom, expressed in Thomas Jefferson's letters and included in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. American Founding Fathers, or Framers of the Constitution, who were especially noted for being influenced by such philosophy of deism include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Cornelius Harnett, Gouverneur Morris, and Hugh Williamson. Their political speeches show distinct deistic influence. Other notable Founding Fathers may have been more directly deist. These include Thomas Paine, James Madison, possibly Alexander Hamilton, and Ethan Allen,
On 24 March 2012, American Atheists sponsored the Reason Rally in Washington D.C. This was followed by the American Atheist Convention at the Bethesda North Marriott and Convention Center in Bethesda, MD. Organizers called the estimated crowd of 8,000–10,000 the largest-ever US gathering of nonbelievers in one place.
In a 2006 nationwide poll, University of Minnesota researchers found that despite an increasing acceptance of religious diversity, atheists were generally distrusted by other Americans, who trusted them less than Muslims, recent immigrants and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society". They also associated atheists with undesirable attributes such as criminal behavior, rampant materialism, and cultural elitism. However, the same study also reported that "The researchers also found acceptance or rejection of atheists is related not only to personal religiosity, but also to one's exposure to diversity, education and political orientation – with more educated, East and West Coast Americans more accepting of atheists than their Midwestern counterparts." Some surveys have indicated that doubts about the existence of a god were growing quickly among Americans under 30.
A 2001 survey directed by Dr. Ariela Keysar for the City University of New York indicated that, amongst the more than 100 categories of response, "no religious identification" had the greatest increase in population in both absolute and percentage terms. This category included atheists, agnostics, humanists, and others with no theistic religious beliefs or practices. Figures are up from 14.3 million in 1990 to 34.2 million in 2008, representing an increase from 8% of the total population in 1990 to 15% in 2008. A nation-wide Pew Research study published in 2008 put the figure of unaffiliated persons at 16.1%, while another Pew study published in 2012 was described as placing the proportion at about 20% overall and roughly 33% for the 18–29-year-old demographic.
Agnosticism, atheism, and humanism
"Unaffiliated" does not necessarily mean "non-religious". Some people who are unaffiliated with any particular religion express religious beliefs (such as belief in God or reincarnation) and engage in religious practices (such as prayer).
This group includes atheists, agnostics and people who describe their religion as "nothing in particular".
Around 1900 some Sikhs emigrated to the United States to work on farms in California. They were the first community to come from India to the US in large numbers.
Adherents of Jainism and the Jain Way of Life.
In 2004 the Hindu American Foundation—a national institution protecting rights of the Hindu community of US—was founded.
In 2001, there are an estimated 400 thousand Hindus in the US, about 0.2% of the total population.
The first time Hinduism entered the US is not clearly identifiable. However, large groups of Hindus have immigrated from India and other Asian countries since the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. During the 1960s and 1970s Hinduism exercised fascination contributing to the development of New Age thought. During the same decades the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (a Vaishnavite Hindu reform organization) was founded in the US.
Estimates of the number of Buddhists in the United States vary between 0.5% and 0.9%, with 0.7% reported by both the CIA and PEW.
Many foreign associations and teachers—such as Soka Gakkai and Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama for Tibetan Buddhism)—started to organize missionary activities, while US converts established the first Western-based Buddhist institutions, temples and worship groups.
The early 20th century was characterized by a continuation of tendencies that had their roots in the 19th century. The second half, by contrast, saw the emergence of new approaches, and the move of Buddhism into the mainstream and making itself a mass and social religious phenomenon.
The first prominent US citizen to publicly convert to Buddhism was Henry Steel Olcott. An event that contributed to the strengthening of Buddhism in the US was the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1893, which was attended by many Buddhist delegates sent from India, China, Japan,Vietnam, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
During the late 19th century Buddhist missionaries from Japan came to the US. During the same time period, US intellectuals started to take interest in Buddhism.
The United States has perhaps the second largest Bahá'í community in the world. First mention of the Faith in the U.S. was at the inaugural Parliament of World Religions, which was held at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. In 1894, Ibrahim Kheiralla, a Syrian Bahá'í immigrant established a community in the U.S. He later left the main group and founded a rival movement.
Research indicates that Muslims in the United States are generally more assimilated and prosperous than their counterparts in Europe. Like other subcultural and religious communities, the Islamic community has generated its own political organizations and charity organizations.
Islam is the third largest faith in the United States, after Christianity and Judaism, representing 0.8% of the population. Islam in America effectively began with the arrival of African slaves. It is estimated that about 10% of African slaves transported to the United States were Muslim. Most, however, became Christians, and the United States did not have a significant Muslim population until the arrival of immigrants from Arab and East Asian Muslim areas. According to some experts, Islam later gained a higher profile through the Nation of Islam, a religious group that appealed to black Americans after the 1940s; its prominent converts included Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. The first Muslim elected in Congress was Keith Ellison in 2006, followed by Andre Carson in 2008.
Beginning in the 1960s, a worldwide movement among previously secular Jews, called baalei teshuva ("returners", returning to a more religious, in most cases, Orthodox, style of observance) has had a noticeable presence in America. It is uncertain how widespread or demographically important this movement is at present.
According to the 2001 National Jewish Population Survey, 4.3 million American Jewish adults have some sort of strong connection to the Jewish community, whether religious or cultural. Jewishness is generally considered an ethnic identity as well as a religious one. Among the 4.3 million American Jews described as "strongly connected" to Judaism, over 80% have some sort of active engagement with Judaism, ranging from attendance at daily prayer services on one end of the spectrum to attending Passover Seders or lighting Hanukkah candles on the other. The survey also discovered that Jews in the Northeast and Midwest are generally more observant than Jews in the South or West. Reflecting a trend also observed among other religious groups, Jews in the Northwestern United States are typically the least observant of tradition.
A 2009 study estimated the Jewish population (including both those who define themselves as Jewish by religion and those who define themselves as Jewish in cultural or ethnic terms) to be between 6.0 and 6.4 million. According to a study done in 2000 there were an estimated 6.14 million Jewish people in the country, about 2% of the population.
The Pew Research Center report on American Judaism released in October 2013 revealed that 22% of Jewish Americans say they have “no religion” and the majority of respondents do not see religion as the primary constituent of Jewish identity. 62% believe Jewish identity is based primarily in ancestry and culture, only 15% in religion. Among Jews who gave Judaism as their religion, 55% based Jewish identity on ancestry and culture, and 66% did not view belief in God as essential to Judaism.
According to a 2007 survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life, 1.7% of adults in the U.S. identify Judaism as their religion. Among those surveyed, 43% said they were Reform Jews, 31% said they were Conservative Jews, and 10% said they were Orthodox Jews. According to the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, 38% of Jews were affiliated with the Reform tradition, 35% were Conservative, 6% were Orthodox, 1% were Reconstructionists, 10% linked themselves to some other tradition, and 10% said they are "just Jewish."
Jews have been present in what is now the US since the 17th century, and specifically allowed since the British colonial Plantation Act 1740. Although small Western European communities initially developed and grew, large scale immigration did not take place until the late 19th century, largely as a result of persecutions in parts of Eastern Europe. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews whose ancestors emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe. There are, however, small numbers of older (and some recently arrived) communities of Sephardi Jews with roots tracing back to 15th century Iberia (Spain, Portugal, and North Africa). There are also Mizrahi Jews (from the Middle East, Caucasia and Central Asia), as well as much smaller numbers of Ethiopian Jews, Indian Jews, Kaifeng Jews and others from various smaller Jewish ethnic divisions. Approximately 25% of the Jewish American population lives in New York City.
After Christianity, Judaism is the next largest religious affiliation in the US, though this identification is not necessarily indicative of religious beliefs or practices. There are between 5.3 and 6.6 million Jews. A significant number of people identify themselves as American Jews on ethnic and cultural grounds, rather than religious ones. For example, 19% of self-identified American Jews believe God does not exist. The 2001 ARIS study projected from its sample that there are about 5.3 million adults in the American Jewish population: 2.83 million adults (1.4% of the U.S. adult population) are estimated to be adherents of Judaism; 1.08 million are estimated to be adherents of no religion; and 1.36 million are estimated to be adherents of a religion other than Judaism. ARIS 2008 estimated about 2.68 million adults (1.2%) in the country identify Judaism as their faith.
Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Eastern Orthodox Christians have the highest number of graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita of any other Christian denomination in the United States, as well as the most high-income earners.
Despite its status as the most widespread and influential religion in the US, Christianity has undergone a continuous relative decline in demographics. While the absolute number of Christians rose from 1990 to 2008 as the overall population increased, the actual percentage of Christians dropped from 86% to 76%. A nationwide telephone interview of 1,002 adults conducted by The Barna Group found that 70% of American adults believe that God is "the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today", and that 9% of all American adults and 0.5% young adults hold to what the survey defined as a "biblical worldview".
The strength of various sects varies greatly in different regions of the country, with rural parts of the South (except Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, and the Hispanic community, which both consist mainly of Catholics), having many evangelicals but very few Catholics, while urbanized areas of the north Atlantic states and Great Lakes, as well as many industrial and mining towns, are heavily Catholic, though still quite mixed, especially due to the heavily Protestant African-American communities. In 1990, nearly 72% of the population of Utah was Mormon, as well as 26% of neighboring Idaho. Lutheranism is most prominent in the Upper Midwest, with North Dakota having the highest percentage of Lutherans (35% according to a 2001 survey.)
Several Christian groups were founded in America during the Great Awakenings. Interdenominational evangelicalism and Pentecostalism emerged; new Protestant denominations such as Adventism; non-denominational movements such as the Restoration Movement (which over time separated into the Churches of Christ the Christian churches and churches of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)); Jehovah's Witnesses (called 'Bible Students' in the later part of the 19th century); and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism).
Greek, Ukrainian, Russian, Armenians, Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, and South Indian immigrants brought Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy to the United States. These branches of Christianity have since spread beyond the boundaries of ethnic immigrant communities and now include multi-ethnic membership and parishes.
Beginning in the 16th century, the Spanish (and later the French and English) introduced Catholicism. From the 19th century to the present, Catholics came to the US in large numbers due to immigration of Italians, Hispanics, Portuguese, French, Polish, Irish, Highland Scots, Dutch, Flemish, Hungarians, Germans, Lebanese (Maronite), and other ethnic groups.Moravians, and Quakers, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Puritans, Baptists, Anglicans. Among Protestants, Protestantism peoples introduced Northern EuropeanBeginning in the 17th century,
Members of mainline Protestant denominations have played leadership roles in many aspects of American life, including politics, business, science, the arts, and education. They founded most of the country's leading institutes of higher education. mainline Protestant as Episcopalians and Presbyterian tend to be considerably wealthier and better educated than most other religious groups in Americans.
The Southern Baptist Convention, with over 16 million adherents, is the largest of more than 200 distinctly named Protestant denominations. In 2007, members of Evangelical Churches comprised 26% of the American population, while another 18% belonged to mainline Protestant churches, and 7% belonged to historically black churches.
- The Catholic Church, 68,503,456 members
- The Southern Baptist Convention, 16,160,088 members
- The United Methodist Church, 7,774,931 members
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6,321,416  members
- The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members
According to the 2011 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, from which members in the United States are combined with Canadian members, and of the National Council of Churches, the five largest denominations are:European colonization Christianity was introduced during the period of ), and 1% have affiliations with various other Christian denominations.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the name commonly used to refer to members of Mormons, 2% are Catholics, 22% are Protestants). From those queried, roughly 48% of Americans are , claimed by the majority of the population (73% in 2012Christianity The largest religion in the US is