Religion-in-public news last week featured a Pew poll that demonstrated how many Americans mix faiths. More on that in some other week. This week’s stories raise a screech question: Will there long be faiths to mix in America? “Faiths” here means bodies of believers, gathered in communities such as congregations. Has the United States begun to follow the overall pattern of decline in membership, attendance, activity, support, and visibility that is so patent in, say, Western Europe?
“NCC’s 2009 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches report decline in Catholic, Southern Baptist Membership,” “NCC’s 2009 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches report decline in Catholic, Southern Baptist Membership,” http://www.ncccusa.org/news/090130yearbook1.html
“PCA posts first-ever decline,” http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/2009/09565.htm
“Missouri Synod Lutherans see falling numbers,” Christian Century, December 15, 2009
“Baptists Shrink: Once Booming, the Southern Baptist Convention tries to rekindle growth,” Andrew M. Manis, Religion in the News: http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/RINVOL12NO2/BaptistsShrink.htm
Martin E. Marty’s biography, current projects, publications, and contact information can be found at www.illuminos.com.
© 2009 Martin Marty. Republished with permission. This analysis was originally published on Dec. 14, 2009, in Sightings, at the Martin Marty Center of the University of Chicago Divinity School. Sightings reports and comments on the role of religion in public life via e-mail twice a week to a readership of over 7,000. For additional information about Sightings: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/martycenter/publications/sightings/