Nondenominational identity has doubled in the US since 2000, Gallup finds.
Ask an American Christian what type of church they belong to, and you’re more likely than ever to hear the label nondenominational.
The proportion of Protestants in the United States who don’t identify with a specific denomination doubled between 2000 and 2016, according to a Gallup poll released this week. Now, about 1 in 6 Americans are nondenominational Christians.
The growing popularity of nondenominational identity is the result of two trends: the decline in the number of Protestants overall, as more Americans eschew any religious affiliation (becoming “the nones”), and shrinking denominations themselves.
Not only are the major mainline churches continuing to see their numbers fall, the country’s largest Protestant denomination—the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)—has lost a million members in the past 15 years.
Prior to 2000, half of all Americans belonged to a specific Protestant denomination. Now, just 30 percent do, Gallup reported.
“Churches that adhere to specific and historical denominational affiliations appear to face the biggest challenge in American Protestantism today,” the pollster wrote. “Increasingly, Christian Americans … prefer to either identify themselves simply as Christians or attend the increasing number of nondenominational churches that have no formal allegiance to a broader religious structure.”
Back in 2010, the Hartford Institute for Religion Research tallied more than 35,000 nondenominational churches in the US, comprising more than 12 million attendees. The move away from historic denominations corresponds with a swelling sense of skepticism many Americans have toward institutions overall.
The shift toward nondenominational …