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White evangelicals have one of highest retention rates of religious groups surveyed

White evangelicals have one of the highest retention rates of all religious groups, keeping three-fourths of their members last year, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found. Black Christians are number one.

This was an improvement over 2016, when white evangelicals retained only two-thirds of their members, with the report noting that the “net loss of members among white evangelical Protestants has declined.” The religious groups that did the best at retaining members were black Protestants (82 percent) and Jewish Americans (77 percent), while white mainline Protestants “continue losing more members than they replace and at higher rates than other Protestants.” Catholics continue to lose more members than they gain, with the retention rate for Hispanic Catholics (68 percent) being slightly higher than white Catholics (62 percent).

More than one-fourth of Americans identified as religiously unaffiliated in 2023, an increase from the 21 percent reported in 2013. The religiously unaffiliated was the only major religious category experiencing growth, according to the survey. Among Americans who left a religious tradition to become unaffiliated, 35 percent were former Catholics and 35 percent were mainline Protestants.

“After observing the growth of unaffiliated Americans for decades, our survey confirms that this trend is not slowing,” said Melissa Deckman, CEO of the institute. “While most Americans are still religious, the ranks of the unaffiliated will continue to swell with both Americans who leave their religion — increasingly because of religious teachings about LGBTQ people — as well as those who are now being raised in religiously unaffiliated households.”

In recent years, there has been much debate over whether the decline in white evangelical Americans was accelerating because of various factors, including media portrayals of white evangelicals overwhelmingly supporting President Donald Trump. In 2021, the Pew Research Center released a report finding that the percentage of white Americans who identified as born again or evangelical during the Trump administration increased.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice


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