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Religion in the USA

Religion has played a vital role in the New World since the days of the first settlers.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. This gives it a high priority in the USA and also enables different religions and denominations to exist side by side. Protestant Christians form the biggest religious subgroup in the USA, but there are a lot of other religions which all enjoy equal rights and recognition before the law.

While the US is a secular nation, religion and faith, and the moral standings that come with it, play a very large role in everyday political discourse. The more conservative Christian groups in particular often get involved in US politics and voice their opinion on political issues.

Religious Groups in the USA

Due to the nation’s history as a refuge for those who were persecuted in other countries for their beliefs, a variety of religions, faiths, and denominations co-exist in the USA. Protestantism alone consists of various sub-groups that have emerged in the course of the past 400 years:

  • Baptists
  • Methodists
  • Lutherans
  • Presbyterians
  • Episcopalians
  • Congregationalists
  • The Disciples of Christ
  • Seventh Day Adventists
  • Quakers
  • Mennonites

With more than 50% of the population, Christian Protestants – both mainline Protestants and faith-based, “born again”, evangelical Christians – make up the biggest religious group in the United States, and hence also the most influential. However, there are many other religions and denominations which are just as present in the public life of the US. Among them, there are such important faiths as:

  • Roman Catholics (25% or more of all US citizens)
  • Judaism (1.2-2.2% of the population, depending on whether or not you count those Jewish Americans that are not necessarily practicing Jews, but still feel connected to Jewish culture and tradition)
  • Orthodox Christians (3.6%)
  • Islam (There is an ongoing controversy about their exact percentage of US demographics, and hence there are no exact figures available.  Estimates range from 0.6% to over 2% of the population.)
  • Buddhism (0.5-0.9% of the US population)
  • Hinduism (0.4%)
  • Humanism, agnosticism and atheism (Although these people are explicitly non-religious, their worldview is often treated like a religion under the law.)

Aside from these, however, small religious groups and cults also have a place in the USA. They enjoy the freedom to practice their religion, and you can find numerous places of worship for all sorts of believers in many towns and regions of the US. Such groups may include:

  • Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)
  • Christian Science
  • Unitarian Universalism
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Scientology

Aside from the religions and denominations mentioned above, quite a few other churches and religious splinter groups exist, and we could not possibly list them all here. Protestantism in particular is an umbrella term for countless congregations with sometimes widely differing beliefs and varying degrees of social conservatism.

On the non-judgmental web portal Patheos, you can find more in-depth information on various religions present in the US and have the opportunity to compare them directly. You can also use the site to find a worship community near your place of residence. However, their directory is by no means comprehensive and you might want to check your new hometown’s phone directory or Yellow Pages as well.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.