PRRI 2022 Census of American Religion: Religious Affiliation Updates and Trends

PRRI 2022 Census of American Religion: Religious Affiliation Updates and Trends

A recent spotlight analysis examines newly released data from PRRI’s 2022 Census of American Religion. The update shows that most trends in religious affiliation moved little between 2021 and 2022. The proportion of white Christians in the country has remained steady since 2018, at 42%, after a long decline from 72% in 1990. However, the proportion of those who are religiously unaffiliated has ticked up again, to 27%, after rising from 16% in 2006 to nearly 26% in 2018, which was followed by a brief dip to 23% in 2020. An additional quarter of the country (25%) is composed of Christians of color, a figure which has also remained stable. The religiously unaffiliated category has absorbed much of the decline within the white Christian population. Though both major political parties are majority Christian, the total Christian proportion is much higher among Republicans (85%) than among Democrats (62%). Overall, Republicans are 71% white Christian and 14% Christians of color, while Democrats are 24% white Christian and 38% Christians of color. Both parties have seen considerable shifts in the religious makeup of their constituencies over the past 16 years.

The Death of Dilbert and False Claims of White Victimhood

Janell Ross for TIME considers the recent controversy surrounding Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip Dilbert whose work was dropped my many distributors and subscribing newspapers after Adams went on a racist rant on a podcast, calling Black Americans a “hate group [that] he will not help and does not wish to be near.” Adams has also remarked that his economic opportunities have been curtailed in America today because he is white. Ross argues that Adams’ belief that “he is one more person convinced that he is a victim of progress” is not all that uncommon when a nation becomes more diverse. She writes, “When you have had an exclusive stranglehold on the best of everything, anything that demands reconsideration, efforts to expand access, or insists on sharing feels like oppression rather than progress.” In 2021, PRRI found 39% of Americans overall agreed with the idea that discrimination against white Americans had become as large a problem as discrimination against Black people and other minority groups. White Americans were significantly more likely to agree (46%) than Latino Americans (33%) and the 13% of Black respondents who agreed.

What’s Next for the Southern Baptist Convention After It Ousted 5 Woman-Led Churches?

Jaclyn Diaz for NPR reports that leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention recently ousted five churches across the U.S. because they allow women to serve as pastors, noting that the SBC’s policies state, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., was among those ousted, and is one of the convention’s largest member churches. A sixth church, Freedom Church in Vero Beach, Fla. was also expelled for issues related to sexual abuse allegations. Monique Moultrie, an associate professor of religious studies at Georgia State University, stated: “I think it is interesting that more swift movement was made towards removing these churches from their union, but there has not been as swift a response to the churches with leaders who were found to be predatory abusers of women and children.” Last summer, the Justice Department announced several of the denomination’s “major entities” are under investigation related to clergy sex abuse.

Perceptions of Anti-Transgender Discrimination amid the Deluge of Anti-Transgender Legislation

PRRI Public Fellow Suzanna Krivulskaya writes in a recent spotlight analysis that in January alone, Republican lawmakers in at least 25 states introducedmore than 150 bills that would limit the rights and freedoms of transgender people. Although Americans generally believe transgender people face the most discrimination in the country, this belief has not swayed anti-transgender attitudes. In 2022, PRRI found 68% of Americans said it was their impression that there was a lot of discrimination against transgender people. Krivulskaya highlights that more than half of respondents who recognize transgender people as facing profound discrimination (56%) also support anti-trans legislation. A majority of white evangelical Protestants (75%) favor laws that would require transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth yet more than half of white evangelical Protestants (51%) believe that transgender people face a lot of discrimination.

What’s Buzzing?

Check out the full panel discussion on our recent report “Abortion Attitudes in a Post-Roe World: Findings From the 50-State 2022 American Values Atlas” which you can read here.