8.7 million blacks are Baptists Study calls black Baptists 4th largest U.S. religion.

July 08, 1992|By Chicago Tribune

A major new demographic study of American Christians and Jews, based on data from the 1990 census and from participating churches and synagogues, estimates that black Baptists constitute the fourth largest religious community in the country.

The number of black Baptists, which has never been accurately estimated before, was put at 8.7 million in the study published by Glenmary Research Center of Atlanta.

The survey, released yesterday, also shows dramatic increases among the more conservative and evangelical Protestant churches and the Mormons in the decade since a similar 1980 study was published by Glenmary. It also confirms continued steady growth among Roman Catholics, the nation's largest denomination, during those 10 years.

Touted as the most comprehensive study to date of Americans' Judeo-Christian affiliations, the county-by-county survey found 137 million Christians and Jews, which it defined as church or synagogue members, their children and other regular participants.

That total represents 55.1 percent of the U.S. population -- up from 49.7 percent in the 1980 study.

The study, sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies and released Tuesday at a press conference in New York City, reveals which geographical regions favor which faiths, and which have the greatest populations unclaimed by Jewish or Christian religious bodies.

Roman Catholicism and Judaism are the largest single religious affiliations in the Northeast.

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