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Study finds significant decline in Minnesotans identifying themselves as Catholic

The percentage of Minnesotans who call themselves Catholics fell from 28 to 22 percent, according to a new study by Pew.

MinnPost photo by Rita Kovtun

A new Pew survey report on religion in the U.S. shows that the number of Americans calling themselves Christians has fallen in recent years — from 78.4 percent in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014.

The survey also shows a big shift in Minnesota. An appendix with the survey shows a drop of 6 percentage points in those identifying themselves as Catholic in the state, from 28 percent in 2007 to 22 percent in 2014. Nationally, the percentage of those calling themselves Catholic fell about 3.1 percentage points, from 24 percent to 21 percent. 

The New York Times notes that the national decline affects “nearly all major Christian traditions and denominations, and crossing age, race and region.”

The story says the report of nearly 71 percent of Americans calling themselves Christian is the “lowest estimate from any sizable survey to date, and a decline of 5 million adults and 8 percentage points since a similar Pew survey in 2007.”

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The survey indicates “many former Christians, of all ages, have joined the rapidly growing ranks of the religiously unaffiliated or ‘nones’: a broad category including atheists, agnostics and those who adhere to ‘nothing in particular.'”

The survey notes that: 

Like mainline Protestants, Catholics appear to be declining both as a percentage of the population and in absolute numbers. The new survey indicates there are about 51 million Catholic adults in the U.S. today, roughly 3 million fewer than in 2007. 

An appendix to the survey, breaking down the numbers by state, shows this for some Minnesota affiliations:

Evangelical tradition:

  • 2014: 19 percent
  • 2007: 21 percent

Mainline tradition:

  • 2014: 29
  • 2007: 32

Historically Black mainline tradition

  • 2014: 2
  • 2007: 1

Catholic

  • 2014: 22
  • 2007: 28