Headline: "Catholic tradition fading in US."
Evangelical Christianity has become the largest religious tradition in this country, supplanting Roman Catholicism, which is slowly bleeding members, according to a survey released yesterday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.And that would be, well... fire -- and not the "angry-breathing-dragon" kind, either.
Evangelical Protestants outnumber Catholics by 26.3 percent (59 million) to 24 percent (54 million) of the population, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, a massive 45-question poll conducted last summer of more than 35,000 American adults.
"There is no question that the demographic balance has shifted in past few decades toward evangelical churches," said Greg Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum. "They are now the mainline of American Protestantism."
The traditional mainline Protestant churches, which in 1957 constituted about 66 percent of the populace, now count just 18 percent as adherents.
Although one in three Americans are raised Roman Catholic, only one in four adults describe themselves as such, despite the huge numbers of immigrants swelling American churches, researchers said.
"Immigration is what is keeping [US Catholicism] afloat," said John Green, a Pew senior fellow. "If everyone who was raised Catholic stayed Catholic, it'd be a third of the country."
Those who leave Catholicism mostly either drop out of church entirely or join Pentecostal or evangelical Protestant churches, Pew Forum director Luis Lugo said. One out of every 10 evangelicals is a former Catholic, he said, with Hispanic Catholics leaving at higher rates; 20 percent of them end up in evangelical or Pentecostal churches.
"It's a desire for a closer experience of God," he said. "It's not so much disenchantment with the teachings of the Catholic Church but the pull of what they see in Pentecostalism."
We've still got a bit of it around, right?
(Cue the Dave.)
A little more of that, please, folks....
Come on, gang -- everybody together.