New data from the Pew Research Center projects that if current trends continue, Christians could become a minority in the United States as soon as 2070, as the number of those with no affiliation grows.
According to Pew, as of 2020, around 64 percent of Americans identified as Christian, with those of other faiths making up just 6 percent of the population. After Christians, the largest demographic was the "nones," or those who said they were atheists, agnostics, or "nothing in particular." Since 1972, the "nones" have grown from 5 percent to 30 percent.
Patterns of "switching" have also been observed, with an average of 31 percent of Christians leaving their religion, and 21 percent of those formerly unaffiliated joining the faith.
With that in mind, the Center modeled four hypothetical scenarios regarding religiosity among Americans over the next fifty years.
In the first, it was imagined that switching rates would continue at current rates. In this case, by 2070 the "nones" would make up 41 percent, with Christians sitting at 46 percent.
In the second, the rate of people leaving Christianity was increased, but capped at 50 percent. In this case, the number of Christians dipped to 39 percent, with the "nones" at 48 percent.
The third was similar to the second, but placed no limits on how many people would leave their faith. In this case, the "nones" rose to 52 percent, with Christians at 35 percent.
Also imagined was what might happen if no switching takes place between now and 2070, finding that in this case, the number of Christians would dip by ten points to 54 percent, while the “nones” would rise to 34 percent.
The Center explained that Scenario No. 2 was most likely to manifest itself in the American population, citing examples of similar Western nations where the rate of Christians leaving the faith declined, but did not dip below 50 percent.
They noted that while there is undeniable momentum among the "nones," there still exists a "self-perpetuating core of committed Christians" who will work to ensure the next generation remains religious.
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