Robert P. Jones is the CEO of he Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and author of the book, The End of White Christian America. In an interview with him by John Sides, an Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, regarding his book, Hones spells out the profound social implication of a new reality: America is no longer a majority white Christian nation.
“Let’s start with a graph from the book … tell us what you see and how you interpret it.
“The chart below reveals just how quickly the proportions of white, non-Hispanic Christians have declined across generations.
“Like an archeological excavation, the chart sorts Americans by religious affiliation and race, stratified by age. It shows the decline of white Christians among each successive generation.
“Today, young adults ages 18 to 29 are less than likely to be white Christians as seniors age 65 and older. Nearly 7 in 10 American seniors (67 percent) are white Christians, compared to fewer than 3 in 10 (29 percent) young adults.
“Although the declining proportion of white Christians is due to large-scale demographic shifts—including immigration patterns and differential birth rates … the other major cause: young adults’ rejection of organized religion. Young adults are three times as likely as seniors to claim no religious affiliation (34 percent versus 11 percent, respectively).
“What’s the broader implication of this generational pattern?
“The American religious landscape is being remade, most notably by the decline of the white Protestant majority and the rise of the religiously unaffiliated. These religious transformations have been swift and dramatic, occurring largely within the last four decades …
“I think the decline in the ‘white part of White Christian America is well known, given the country’s obviously increasing ethnic diversity. But let’s talk about the ‘Christian’ part and particularly the increasing number of people who aren’t affiliated with any religious tradition. Why are the ranks of the unaffiliated increasing?
“The rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans over the last few decades is one of the most important and dramatic shifts in American religious history. As recently as the 1990s, less than 1 in 10 Americans claimed no religious affiliation …
Looking ahead, there’s no sign that this pattern will fade anytime soon. By 2051, if current trends continue, religiously unaffiliated Americans could comprise as large a percentage of the population as all Protestants combined—a thought that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. …”
Source: The Washington Post: White Christian America is dying,
August 15, 2016