Growing trends in American religion

I always love interviewing Robert P. Jones. He's the founder and head of the Public Religion Research Institute. In plain English: He's a pollster. I studied social science polling in graduate school and learned to love those numbers!

But more than that, Robert always has something new and interesting to add to our public discourse about religion. Last week, he unveiled a whole new resource on the PRRI website. It's called the American Values Atlas, and it's a cool way to look up information on any state in the union and compare it to any other. Information includes religious affiliations as well as views on pertinent public issues that touch religious discourse in some way.

This time, it revealed some important trends:

As of 2014, we are no longer a majority Protestant nation. The national Protestant percentage stands at 47 percent. When I asked him what's driving this, he cited the growing number of Hispanic Catholics and the increasing number of those unaffiliated with any religion.

Those religiously unaffiliated are now at 22 percent of the population, and among those under 35, they make up 34 percent of the population. Obviously, this group is growing rapidly. One thing driving this: young evangelicals increasingly uncomfortable with the anti-LGBT stance of their churches. Another interesting tidbit: These "religiously unaffiliated" are the largest "religious grouping" in 19 states. (For the record, these "unaffiliated" are for the most part not atheists or agnostics; they are people who simply claim no religious home.)

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Catholics still find their "home base" in the Northeast, but the increase in Catholic numbers is coming from the Southwest and Hispanic Catholics. Rhode Island is the most Catholic state in the country: Catholics make up about 44 percent of the population.

A majority in every state and in every religious tradition supports comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. A majority of people -- even in Republican strongholds in the deep South or in states like Wyoming or Idaho -- favor this policy. So do Christian evangelicals. So I asked Robert: What is the problem moving this in Congress? Well, it's not a constituency problem -- clearly -- it's a pure partisan problem.

White Christians are now a minority in 19 states.

Get more information on all these trends, and listen to the full interview


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