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Pew survey: fewer than half of Americans are now Protestant; 22% are Catholic

Catholic World News - October 10, 2012

A new survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has found that only 48% of Americans now identify themselves as Protestant, while 22% are Catholics and nearly 20% are unaffiliated.

In 1972, 62% of Americans identified themselves as Protestant, 26% as Catholic, and 7% as unaffiliated.

“The [Protestant] decline is concentrated among white Protestants, both evangelical and mainline,” the survey found. “Currently, 19% of US adults identify themselves as white, born-again or evangelical Protestants, down slightly from 21% in 2007. And 15% of adults describe themselves as white Protestants but say they are not born-again or evangelical Christians, down from 18% in 2007.”

“The Catholic share of the population has been roughly steady over this period, in part because of immigration from Latin America,” the survey authors added.

The survey found that 41% of self-identified Catholics attend worship services at least weekly and 58% pray daily.

39% of Catholics identify themselves as political conservatives, 42% as moderates, and 18% as liberals. 50% of Catholics – and 54% of white Catholics – believe that abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances, while 45% of Catholics (and 41% of white Catholics) believe it should be illegal in most or all circumstances.

By a 53%-37% margin, the Catholics surveyed believe that same-sex marriage should be legal; overall, Americans favor same-sex marriage by a smaller margin (48%-44%).

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