Numbers of Muslims, Mormons Rising Sharply: Report

Andrew Stern, Reuters, May 1, 2012

American Muslims grew in number over the past decade, outnumbering Jews for the first time in most of the Midwest and part of the South, while most mainline churches lost adherents, according to a census of American religions released on Tuesday.

The number of Muslim adherents rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions, said Dale Jones, a researcher who worked on the study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

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The number of Mormons, whose Utah-based church’s formal name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grew by 45 percent to 6.1 million in 2010, according to the census, which asked 236 religions to count their own adherents. Family members of adherents were generally included in the numbers.

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Among the other largest U.S. faiths, adherents to the Southern Baptist Convention held steady at 19.9 million over the decade, the United Methodist Church lost 4 percent 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.

Evangelical protestant congregations continued to grow, though slowly, to 50 million adherents. Most of the growth, surprisingly, was in urban areas and the vast majority of expanding congregations have fewer than 100 members and are not large mega churches, Jones said.

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