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p. 292. The Big Picture

Religion in America by the Numbers, and Then Somelocked

  • Timothy Beal


‘The Big Picture’ discusses the challenges in measuring religious diversity in America. It is difficult to find reliable population statistics and there is no universal objective standard for religious identity. Over 80% of Americans identify themselves as religious, and 95% of those identify with some form of Christianity, perhaps because it is culturally normative. New religious movements involve a combination of emergence and divergence in relation to preexisting religious traditions. The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion is growing, gender, age, and ethnicity being significant factors in both religious and nonreligious identity. Religious identity and political orientation sometimes coincide, but not always.

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