The demographics of religion will change dramatically over the next four decades, and countries across the world will transform with them.
Pew research suggests Christianity will be on the decline from 2010 to 2050, and this map — which is based on the 2010 census data — provides a snapshot of the religious fabric of America.
About 83% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.
A few observations:
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka the Mormon Church, seems to have heeded Mark Twain's advice: "Buy land, they're not making it anymore." In November 2013, the Mormon Church bought 2% of Florida.
- The Bible Belt, comprised mostly of Southern Baptists, is on full display and informs the strong social conservative strain that runs through American politics.
- Catholics barely beat out the Southern Baptists for the highest number of counties with the most adherents. Catholicism's nationwide reach is reminiscent of widespread support of the Notre Dame football team:
"Millions of Catholics — whether Irish, Italian, German or Pole — lived vicariously through the wins and losses of Notre Dame’s football teams. For that vastly immigrant population Notre Dame football symbolized the triumphs of an ostracized people. It also reflected the ascendancy of U.S. Catholics into the nation’s mainstream."
- Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia appear to have the most diversity when it comes to dominant religious groups. On the other side is Vermont and New Hampshire, which are considered the Godless states.
The religiously unaffiliated (atheists, agnostics) are expected to see the largest net gains from switching out of Christianity, adding more than 61 million followers from 2010 to 2050.
But it will be hard to remove the dominant religions in local communities. So perhaps the map will stay largely the same, with some counties dominated by the unaffiliated popping up.
Here's the largest religion other than Christianity in every county (as of 2010):
(Association of Statisticians Of American Religious Bodies)
Christina Sterbenz contributed to this post.
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