Church Diversity in the U.S. Has Doubled in the Past Decade

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The percentage of multiethnic churches in America has grown from 7.5 percent in 1998 to 13.7 percent in 2010.

The Huffington Post blog reported this week that the percentage of multiethnic churches in America has grown from 7.5 percent in 1998 to 13.7 percent in 2010. A 20 percent minority criteria was used in the study. Dr. Scott Thumma, a professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary and blogger for The Huffington Post, calls this “a major shift toward desegregation among the nation’s religious communities.”

The study included more than 11,000 congregations and also found that in 4 percent of America’s churches, no single race has a majority. All denominations and faith groups experienced an increase in racial diversity: 12.5 percent of Protestant churches and 27.1 percent of other Christian churches (Catholic/Orthodox) were multiracial. These multiracial congregations are most likely to be found in larger urban areas in the western U.S.

Interestingly, the churches that said they were intentionally racially diverse were the congregations that were in fact more multiracial.

“As the country continues to diversify at a dramatic rate, thanks to our immigration policies, it is pleasing to see America’s congregations opening their doors to that diversity as well,” concluded Thumma. “If heaven is going to include all races, it’s encouraging to see our faith communities beginning to reflect that reality in the present.”

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