- A study has revealed that Christians in the US are quickly shrinking and may be a minority in 2070
- The study was on four hypothetical scenarios, based on trends of no switching, steady switching, rising disaffiliation with limits, and rising disaffiliation without limits
- By 2055, the unaffiliated would become the country’s largest group at 46%, which will be more than Christians' 43%
Christians may become a minority group in the USA by 2070 if recent trends continue, data by the Pew Research Center has revealed.
Four hypothetical scenarios
To predict the religious landscape of the country, the center modeled four hypothetical scenarios, based on trends that included no switching, steady switching, rising disaffiliation with limits, and rising disaffiliation without limits.
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Some of the questions modeled for the study included; what if Christians keep leaving religion at the same rate observed in recent years or the pace of religious switching continues to accelerate?
"What if switching were to stop, but other demographic trends – such as migration, births and deaths – were to continue at current rates?” was also included in the study.
Christians will decrease
The Guardian reports that the scenario of no switching hypothesizes that Christians will keep their majority through 2070. However, in that scenario, the share of Christians will still decrease by 10 percentage points over the next 50 years.
"Primarily as a result of Christians being older than other groups, on average, and the unaffiliated being younger, with a larger share of their population of childbearing age," read the findings from Pew.
According to the steady switching scenario, Christians will lose their majority but will still retain their title as the biggest US religious group in 2070.
Common religious identity
“If switching among young Americans continued at recent rates, Christians would decline as a share of the population by a few percentage points per decade.
“In 2070, 46% of Americans would identify as Christian, making Christianity a plurality – the most common religious identity – but no longer a majority … the share of ‘nones’ (individuals who are not religiously affiliated) would not climb above 41%," read another part.
The rising disaffiliation with limits will have nones as the largest group in 2070 but not a majority. This is assuming brakes are applied to keep retention among Christians from decreasing below 50%.
Christians would lose their majority
“If the pace of switching before the age of 30 were to speed up initially but then hold steady, Christians would lose their majority status by 2050, when they would be 47% of the US population (versus 42% for the unaffiliated),” Pew said.
In the rising disaffiliation without limits scenario, Christians would no longer be a majority by 2045, assuming that switching rates before 30 were to accelerate.
This means by 2055, the unaffiliated would become the country’s largest group at 46%, which will be more than Christians' 43%.
Depending on whether religious switching stops entirely, accelerates or continues at current rates, Christians of all ages will shrink from 64% to between 54% and 35% by 2070.
The nones will rise to 52%
Meanwhile, the nones will rise from 30% to somewhere between 34% and 52% of the population.
“While the scenarios in this report vary in the extent of religious disaffiliation they project, “they all show Christians continuing to shrink as a share of the US population, even under the counterfactual assumption that all switching came to a complete stop in 2020," said the Center.
"At the same time, the unaffiliated are projected to grow under all four scenarios,"read another part.
In each of the scenarios, non-Christian believers will grow twice in size, to represent 12% to 13% of the US population.