The United States could have a non-Christian majority by 2039, if Pew Research Center data is correct.
In 2018 phone surveys, Pew found that 35% of Americans do not identify as Christians. In addition, Pew claims 65% of the Americans it surveyed called themselves Christians in 2018.
In 2009, 78% of the Americans Pew surveyed identified themselves as Christians. Thus, Pew estimates the percentage of Christians in America fell by 13% in nine years.
If that trend continues the percentage of Christians in America could fall to 52% in 2029 and 39% in 2039. Consequently, 61% of Americans could be non-Christian by 2039.
America’s Paradigm Shift in Religion
Hence, the math is not good for American Christians. Christians could be a minority within the lifetimes of most living Americans.
Pew’s data shows America is undergoing a paradigm shift in religion. In 2009, for example, 51% of adult Americans identified as Protestants.
American Protestantism is Collapsing
In 2018 and 2019, 43% of American adults called themselves Protestants, Pew estimates. Thus, the percentage of Protestants in America fell by 9% in 10 years.
If that trend continues, I estimate the percentage of American Protestants could fall to 34% in 2029 and 25% in 2039. Thus in two decades, only one out of four Americans could be Protestant, in a historically Protestant Nation.
Pew’s data shows that Catholics are more stable. Pew calculates the percentage of American Roman Catholics fell from 23% in 2009 to 20% in 2018 and 2019. If that continues the percentage of Catholics could fall to 17% in 2029 and 14% in 2039.
I think Catholics are more stable because the Roman Catholic Church has stronger institutions than Protestants. I believe a complete collapse of many Protestant institutions is inevitable, if the decline continues.
Post-Christian America is coming in 2039
We are living in Post-Protestant America; and heading for Post-Christian America – if Pew’s data is accurate.
Thus it is a good time to think about Post-Christian America. Here are a few of my thoughts about Post-Christian America:
First, Post-Christian America will not be a completely secular or nonreligious place. History shows that new religions will arise to replace Christianity and Protestantism.
I think a probable cult is the worship of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology. Interestingly, Wired notes that the first AI faith Way of the Future; which worships an artificial intelligence Godhead, is accepting donations.
Second, Christianity is far from dead. The remaining Christians in the rump churches are likely to become more devout; more activist, and more obnoxious, to the Post-Christian majority. In addition, the remaining Christian institutions could become stronger because they will only contain true believers.
Third, new and weird variations of Christianity for the 21st Century will appear. An obvious new Church; that will offend many Christians, is a cult that worships an AI Christ. Another obnoxious faith could be the belief that technology itself is a manifestation of God.
Should we Fear Post-Christian America?
Fourth, Post-Christian America could be a very intolerant place. Historically, secular regimes like the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and the French Republic have been highly intolerant.
I believe a likely scenario is American Christians becoming more militant and devout. In response secularists will ratchet up the oppression.
Fifth, Post-Christian America cannot escape history. America has a long history of persecuting, abusing, exploiting, and oppressing minorities. That habit is unlikely to disappear in Post-Christian America.
Tellingly, the super-secular Soviet Union adopted most of the prejudices of its Christian predecessor; the Tsarist Russian Empire, including official anti-Semitism. Likewise, the supposedly technocratic People’s Republic of China glorifies traditional Chinese bigotry including xenophobia and intolerance of non-Chinese faiths.
Notably, the People’s Republic is viciously persecuting and detaining Muslims in Xiajiang. I think history shows, secularism could magnify the worst aspects of the American culture.
Will Post-Christian America persecute Christians?
Sixth, Americans persecuting a Christian minority is not as far-fetched as you think.
In the 19th Century, the state of Missouri tried to exterminate Mormons. In addition, the federal government spent five decades trying to suppress the Mormon faith between 1850 and 1896.
During the 20th Century, Jehovah’s Witnesses faced persecution for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Most recently, conservative intellectuals; including President Donald J. Trump (R-New York), accuse Muslims of disloyalty to America. Conversely, some liberal intellectuals; including Nobel-Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, are accusing Christians of disloyalty to America.
We need to think about Post-Christian America because the numbers show we could soon live in it.