Mormonism gaining; Catholics, Protestants losing in new survey

Interesting bit of news in my inbox this morning: Mormonism is the fastest-growing religion in more than half of the states and moving into many parts of the country where it had no presence previously.

Check out the stats here.

Released Tuesday, the 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study (RCMS) shows that the mainline Protestants and Catholics, the dominant religions of the past century, are losing ground to the rapid rise of Mormons and, increasingly, Muslims.

The Religion News Service breaks down the study, which is conducted once every 10 years and can track Americans’ religious affiliation down to the county level, from the largest (Los Angeles County, where Mormons grew 55 percent while Catholics shrank by 7 percent) to the smallest (Loving County, Texas, which is home to 80 people and one nondenominational evangelical church).

Romney’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 2 million new adherents and new congregations in 295 counties where they didn’t exist a decade ago, making them the fastest-growing group in the U.S.

Mormons were the fastest-growing group in 26 states, expanding beyond their historic home in Utah to the heart of the Bible Belt and as far away as Maine.

Muslims came in second, with growth of 1 million adherents in 197 new counties, to a total of about 2.6 million. Overall, non-Christian groups grew by 32 percent over the past decade.

The survey identified nearly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States, from Albanian Orthodox to Zoroastrian. Those churches, temples and mosques are the spiritual home for 150.6 million Americans, and researchers say they were able to capture 90 percent of all U.S. congregations.

The RCMS study relies mainly on self-reported data from churches and denominations.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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