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Report: US Muslim Population Nearly Triples in Decade

A 2010 survey shows the Muslim population in the US has risen from 1 million to 2.6 million in 10 years
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 5/2/2012, 10:29 PM

Muslims Praying
Muslims Praying
Reuters

A census of American religions released Tuesday showed the Muslim community in the United States has grown in the past decade.

According to a study carried out by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, the number of Muslims in America rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions.

Muslims now outnumber Jews in many parts of the American South and Midwest, but Christians remain the largest group in every state.

The number of Mormons with the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grew by 45 percent to 6.1 million in 2010.

Among the other major US faiths, the Southern Baptist Convention held steady at 19.9 million over the decade, the United Methodist Church lost 4 percent down to 9.9 million adherents, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 18 percent to 4.2 million, and the Episcopal Church lost 15 percent of its adherents to 1.95 million.

Among major religions, the census found the number of Catholics, the largest single faith, declined 5 percent to 58.9 million during the decade. In the New England region, Catholic funerals outnumber baptisms.

However, the overall number of evangelical Protestant congregations continued to grow, albeit slowly, to 50 million adherents. Most of the growth was in urban areas and the vast majority of expanding congregations have fewer than 100 members.

Elsewhere, Buddhists made strong gains in the Rocky Mountain States, where the number of temples and congregations increased markedly. The total number of Buddhist adherents in the United States stands at nearly 1 million. There was no estimate in 2000.

According to the study, 55 percent of Americans attend religious services with enough regularity to be counted. By comparison, most surveys estimate roughly 85 percent of Americans profess religious faith, though they may not attend services.

Some 158 million Americans were classified as “unclaimed” by any religion in the survey.

The survey, which asked 236 religions to count their own adherents, also included family members of adherents in the numbers in most cases.

Jews did not respond to the survey in large numbers, but Jewish organizations in the US have conducted numerous up-to-date studies. The Jewish Population of the United States 2010 study by Prof. Ira Sheskin of Miami University, placed the American Jewish population at 6,543,820.

That number is up from an estimated 6,155,000 in 2000.