A new study shows that the percentage of Catholics in the United States has fallen from nearly one-in-four to one-in-five, with the added news that Hispanics in America are no longer majority-Catholic.
The Pew Research Centre survey released Oct. 17 noted that in general, religious practice in the country has declined at a “rapid pace.”
Based on telephone surveys conducted in 2018-2019, Pew found that 65% of Americans now call themselves Christian, down 12% points from a decade ago; in addition, those having no religion – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – are now 26% of the population, up from 17% a decade ago.
Self-described Protestants went from 77 to 65% in that time period; Catholics went from 23% to 20%. Although Catholic leaders might feel some comfort knowing they aren’t experiencing the same sort of decline as Protestants, they must be worried by the large number of Hispanic Catholics leaving the Church.
In 2009, 57% of Hispanics called themselves Catholic; it was only 47% in 2019. Only a small percentage of that can be attributed to joining other churches or religions – the number of Hispanics identifying as Protestant only rose from 23 in 2009 to 26% in 2017 (although the 2019 data showed 24% the earlier survey is probably more thorough); and the number describing themselves as belonging to non-Christian religions rose from 1 percent to 3%. However, those describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” increased from 16 to 23%.