How many in mainline? Categories vary in surveys

Defining the mainline
Americans who identify with mainline churches make up either 18 percent of the U.S. population or 13 percent, according to two large-scale surveys taken within recent years. Which is right?

Both are, say some researchers. The statistical variations typically depend on what questions are asked and how the mainline is defined.

Few doubt that the graying of members, low birth rates and various controversies have contributed to the diminishing numbers of mainline Protestants found in the United Methodist Church, the Evan gelical Luth eran Church in America, the Pres byterian Church (U.S.A.), the Epis copal Church, the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ.


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