Study finds significant decline in Minnesotans identifying themselves as Catholic

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.”

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


  • 2014: 22
  • 2007: 28

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by John Appelen on 05/12/2015 - 09:53 pm.


    Given the bad press the Catholics have had regarding Priest behavior / cover ups, their anti-gay stance, their anti-birth control stance, etc. I am amazed it has not dropped more.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/14/2015 - 11:01 am.

      Kind of Amazing

      It seems like all of the people I know who identify as Catholics are appalled by the priest scandals, and oppose the Church’s teachings on birth control, homosexuality etc. They will not say they have left the Church; they just disagree with the teachings that might apply to them.

  2. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/13/2015 - 08:04 am.

    Getting closer

    Get the Catholic identifying number under 5% and John Nienstedt will have the near unanimous support of his flock. Maybe that has been his plan along….

  3. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 05/13/2015 - 08:25 am.

    Religion, surveys…

    under “political agendas”? Way to go,eh?

    Are Christians fleeing the church or merely turned off by those who use and abuse the label; stretching the nature of organized religion? But then too, what is the nature of organized religion…the Pew research on the ‘pew’ is it really that well defined; or is it even possible to define if religion and politics have become bedfellows, be it Christianity, Islam, Buddhism whatever?

    I listened to the survey and found it neatly packaged by two voices for the media; honorable to a fault…because anything, religion or otherwise, contains so many variables that any certainty that evolves says nothing too new about religious communities? However, here’s one angle… the rise of fundamentalists and call it Christianity if they want; that in itself has tainted the message and many probably don’t want to identify with the church with all its good time message that condemns others and glorifies itself?

    The curse of the fundamentalists is a scary state of the times, and I suppose “Political agendas” may be the right choice, the right category; joined at the hip you could say in a nation that once separated the two?

    And am surprised that the survey says Catholics are leaving the church now when they have a human figure; a thinking figure head in the present pope who is questioning old doctrines which have lost their viability… a brilliant man with a mind that questions decadent ideas still clinging?

    Then too, the rise of selfie churches, cathedrals that exist to give solace or glad tidings to those who know little about Christianity but what the media tells them…J.C. was the man of the hour during Easter season… could be we’re going somewhere on a glory train of stage dramas where the virtual becomes the story…would you believe, wow?

    Heres the church and here’s the steeple open the doors and by gosh, no people?

  4. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 05/13/2015 - 01:40 pm.

    Thank Archbishop Nienstedt and his war on homosexuals

    That is why I find it difficult to continue to identify myself as a Catholic.

  5. Submitted by Anna Glynn on 05/18/2015 - 08:53 pm.

    Catholic numbers going up or down??

    I find it most interesting that the issue with the priests keeps coming up as the be all and end all of why Catholics are not happy with the Church. Does anyone understand that pedophilia is NOT A CATHOLIC ISSUE!!! It is a sickness that is in every recognized religion, as well as in professions such as coaches, counselors, teachers and any occasion where adult men have access to minor children. It is so maddening to make this sickness only a Catholic issue. I am sick at heart that my fellow Catholics who are bordering on whether they want to remain listed as Catholics are teetering on the edge because of the sins of a few. My faith is far stronger than the actions of a minor percentage of the men in the priesthood in this country. Take away all the reference to pedophilia and you still have all the beauty and history of the Catholic tradition and solidarity of the faithful who subscribe to the truths given to us by Jesus Christ. I believe all people should be free to decide which way they want to worship their God, but please do not condemn my church because of the sins of a few.

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