Decline of Mainline Protestant Churches
Joseph Bottum, in First Things, on the death of Protestant America. An excerpt:
All three have suffered serious losses: the Presbyterians down 1.6 percent over the previous year, the Lutherans down 1.09, and the Methodists down 0.79. The other Mainline churches show the same pattern: The Episcopalians, for instance, lost 1.55 percent of their members in 2005. By 2025, runs a bitter joke among conservative Anglicans, the Episcopal Church will have one priest for every congregant. And these recent numbers are actually a slight improvement. The greatest damage was done from 1990 to 2000—a decade in which the United Church of Christ declined 14.8 percent, for example, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 11.6 percent.
Another way to parse the data is to consider the average age of church membership. The 1998 to 2002 sets of the General Social Survey show that the Mainline Protestant denominations have the oldest average age of any religious group in America, at almost fifty-two years. And they will get older yet. In 2005, the Baylor Religion Survey found that 28.1 percent of believers aged sixty-five and over—but only 17.6 percent of those thirty-one to forty-four—identify themselves as members of the Mainline.