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  Chapter Six:

  Religious Membership
  Roman Catholics
  Other Religions
  Religious Attendance
  Religious Attitudes



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Other Religions

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Organized religion became much more diverse as a result of the rapid expansion of Christian denominations that are neither Protestant nor Catholic and the simultaneous growth of non-Christian faiths.
The several Eastern Orthodox denominations (Greek, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormon, are Christian but distinctive in ritual and practice. As a result of immigration from Eastern European countries, membership in Eastern Orthodox denominations increased from about 400,000 at the beginning of the century to more than 4 million in 1998. During the same period, Mormon membership grew from about 200,000 to 5 million, partly because of substantially higher-than-average fertility rates, but also as the result of a vigorous missionary effort. 

The three major Jewish denominations—Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform— combine their membership into a single total that is presented in estimated round numbers. Membership in the three Jewish denominations more than tripled during the century, from 1.5 million in 1900 to 5.5 million in 1998. Buddhists and Muslims registered the most spectacular growth, especially toward the end of the century. Although much of this growth can be traced to immigration, some nonAsians converted to Buddhism through New Age movements and to Islam through Black Muslim organizations. From 1950 to 1998, the number of Buddhists increased tenfold. Muslims were too few to count in 1950, but by 1998 their numbers exceeded 3 million and mosques were being erected throughout the nation. 

The charts omit several Christian denominations that are not technically Protestant but seem to fall within the same religious tradition: Unitarian-Universalists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. These denominations also grew rapidly during the century.

Chapter 6 chart 4

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series H 796 and H 797; SA 1922, table 47; SA 1951, table 52; and SA 1979, table 76. See also NYT 1999, page 684; and CB, Census of Religious Bodies 1910 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1916). See also Encyclopedia Britannica at (accessed May 16, 2000).


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