U.S. Church Diversity has nearly doubled from 1998 to 2010

The percentage of multiethnic churches in America has grown from 7.5% in 1998 to 13.7% in 2010, based on 2 different survey-bases studies, using a 20% minority criteria. One of the leading church researchers, Dr. Scott Thumma (Professor of Sociology of Religion, Hartford Seminary), posted this on the Huffington Post blog, Racial Diversity Increasing In U.S. Congregations, alerting us to some notable progress in the desegregation of American churches:

Martin Luther King’s once said 11 a.m. Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. That statement seems to remain true today, 57 years later. However, the 2010 Faith Communities Today report shows a major shift toward desegregation is underway among the nation’s religious communities.

The study, which included more than 11,000 congregations, found the number of multiracial faith communities has nearly doubled in the past decade. Nearly 14 percent of congregations are considered multiracial, with at least 20 percent of members coming from racial groups different from the congregation’s majority race. The study also found 4 percent of America’s congregations are multiracial, with no racial group having a majority.

Researchers have been tracking these changes since the 1990s. Mark Chaves, in the 1998 National Congregations Study, reported that 7.5 percent of all congregations were multiracial. Another study in the late 1990s by sociologist Michael Emerson found 5 percent of Protestant churches and 15 percent of Catholic churches were multiracial.

When compared to this earlier research, our 2010 Faith Communities Today study… found the percentage of multiracial congregations (using the 20 percent or more minority criteria) had nearly doubled in the past decade to 13.7 percent.