01: A new survey finds that Protestants will soon lose their majority status in the U.S. Due to a steady decline of Americans affiliated with many Protestant churches between 1993 and 2002, the survey, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center, finds that the share of Americans who said they were Protestant dropping from 63 percent to 52 percent, after years of remaining generally stable.
At the same time, the number of people who said they had no religion rose from 9 percent to nearly 14 percent, and many are former Protestants, the survey’s authors said. The study was based on three decades of religious identification questions in the General Social Survey, which the opinion center conducts to measure public trends.
Among the reasons given for the sharp drop is that some former Protestants are now identifying themselves only as “Christian,” a choice on the survey. The Roman Catholic population has remained relatively stable over the period, while those saying they belonged to other religions — including Islam, Orthodox Christianity or Eastern faiths — increased from 3 percent to 7 percent between 1993 and 2002. The share of people who said they were Jewish remained stable at just under two percent.
02: Contrary to many projections and reports, Western missionaries still outnumber those from the non-Western world, according to theInternational Bulletin of Missionary Research (July).
Various missions publications and strategists have asserted that the growing ranks of non-Western missionaries will soon exceed Western missionaries. Michael Jaffarian writes that there are actually four times as many Western missionaries as there are missionaries from the Third World. Many of the exaggerated forecasts have tended to count both domestic (or “nationals” staying in their countries to serve) and foreign missionaries from the Third World while only counting foreign missionaries from the West.
Even the projections of Third World missionary dominance are based on the faulty notion that this missionary force would maintain a constant growth rate, with no slowing of pace. But Jaffarian notes that although the Third World mission force is still much smaller than the Western missions movement, it is growing at a much faster rate.
(International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 490 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511)