Is Paganism the Fastest Growing Religion in the United States?
Picture Source Fuck Yeah Paganism (Great site title too!)
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
Don’t bust out the mead yet! Pagans are still a very small minority in comparison to both U.S Religions and World Religions at large. If you read the 2008 “United States Census Bureau Abstract on Self Identified Religious Populations”, the number of Pagans and Wiccans combined still only results to 0.3% of the population (which means that 3 out of every 1,000 people you meet will be Pagan). However, that number doesn’t account for people who classify as spiritualists, Unitarian Universalists or non-classified.
I do often bump into people at Pagan meets or New Age shops who do not like to call themselves “Pagans,” but rather “Animists,” “Druids,” “Asatruar,” “Heathens,” “Shamans,” etc. The war over what gets lumped into the pagan category and what doesn’t wages on, but I bet many of these folk filled in the “non-classified” space rather than “pagan” on their Census Bureau survey. Personally I prefer to think of Paganism as a system that seeks to revive an ancient system of Earth Based Values – but not everyone shares my definition.
The statistical number of Pagans is probably much smaller than the real number. There are definitely more Pagans than what is represented on a survey. Pagans are still a persecuted minority in many ways, so a lot of us tend to be private about our beliefs to the point where we wouldn’t even write it down. Also, the 0.3% number is from 2008. There has obviously been growth in 5 years time, so the current number could be anything from .5 – 2%.
But don’t despair, there is good news! Even though the numbers are small, Paganism and Wicca are still growing at an incredibly fast rate.
Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Wiccans in the United States increased from 8,000 to 134,000 according to the United States Census Bureau. That’s an increase of 1600%! Between 2001 and 2008, the number of Pagans over all (Wiccans included) doubled, so that’s a growth rate of 200%. That’s an increase greater than almost anything seen among the other religions! The number of Christians overall, in comparison, only experienced an 8% growth rate between 2001 and 2008, which is actually a decrease when you account for population growth.
However, one must note that the number of Evangelicals doubled between 2001 and 2008. The number of conservative Christians such as Mormons and Baptists have also increased while the number of Liberal Christians such as Presbyterians and Lutherans have decreased. Therefore Christianity is shrinking, but it’s also radicalizing in the process.
BREAKING DOWN THE NUMBERS
Population of Non-Abrahamic Religious People in U.S. in 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau)
Native American Spirituality: 186,000
Non-Wiccan Pagans: 340,000
Non-Pagan Spiritualists: 426,000
WHY THE RAPID INCREASE?
There are a number of possible factors
- Increased Tolerance in society for diverse religious beliefs. As a result, more Pagans are coming out of the broom closet.
- The Internet: Possibly one of the greatest catalysts of social change to happen in the 90’s and 2000’s. Before the internet, many people chose their faith by the community they lived in. If you were a Pagan in a pre-internet world, it was probably very difficult to find others with similar beliefs unless you met them at a New Age shop or had an acquaintance who happened to be in the occult. In the same way that drugs and rock and roll music sparked a social revolution in the 1960’s, the internet is opening up new gateways for social thought and experimentation.
- A Growing Discontent with Christianity: Generation Y is much more comfortable with homosexuality and women’s rights than their parents were. As a result, a religious book that promotes the stoning of homosexuals – or the silence of women in a place of worship – is becoming increasingly antithetical to the morals of today’s more progressive youth. Many of these young people still thirst for a spiritual connection, but are no longer willing to attain it from the Church.
- The Desire to Reconnect With a Feminine Force of Power: For the last 2,000 years, Christian Patriarchy has robbed the world of Feminine Power. Is it any wonder that more slavery, wars, holocausts and environmental destruction have happened in this time period than any other? I’m not saying that the Pagan Past was a bed of flower power and hippies, it was definitely brutal and bloody, but that society has increasingly become unbalanced as the Goddess has been circumcised out of the religious equation. Even patriarchal empires like Ancient Rome and Greece understood the need for a Female Deity.
- A Desire to Reconnect With the Earth: In a world that is becoming more material and corporate, there is a yearning for something authentic and organic. This explains the growing popularity of Farmers Markets, green movements and the growth of vegetables on roof tops in Urban Centers. If we are to save the Earth, we must fall in love with the Earth. We must have a spiritual relationship with the Earth. The Earth cannot simply be an abstract ideal – it must be as an actual family member that we keep in our thoughts and wishes.
GROWING A COMMUNITY
The number of Pagans is indeed growing very fast, but we are still a very small and misunderstood minority. If you would like there to be more Pagans in the world or less misunderstandings, you should come out of the broom closet and be more open about who you are – and what you belief – unless you live in a town where you could get beat up or killed for your beliefs…then that might not be such a good idea. But I also encourage you to blog, make music, make art, write stories and spread your ideas so that the Pagan community may continue to grow and evolve.
The fastest growing religion is the U.S is Eckankar. Followers of the one true God.
May 21, 2013 at 9:29 pm
So other gods that are not like eckankar are not true gods/goddesses?
May 31, 2016 at 10:49 am
No,I mean the religion is Eckankar,the adherents are ‘Eckists’ and the god they worship is Eck.
May 22, 2013 at 3:15 am
I used to follow Eck … As a solitary wiccan, I did learn things – like astral projection (which I project to be a form of self-hypnotism) … But their rules are too strict & their prices of lessons grew & grew more outrageous – And you had to have a ‘living’ higher initiate to teach you … I never left my Wiccan roots, just curious as to what ‘they’ were all about. But I would never ‘knock’ Eck … because they are some interesting folks ! It is a ‘direct path’ to God, but Paul Twitchell, the founder, took the money & ran … It is a man-made religion not unlike Scientology … I received my 2nd initiation, then a horrible murder occurred in our family that sent me back to my Gods & Goddesses for answers and hope. I found it there.
March 29, 2014 at 10:00 pm
Reblogged this on faithinbalance and commented:
Yet another great post from MG, and ’tis something you should really think about, especially the coming out bit.
May 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm
July 25, 2013 at 5:50 pm
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Hmm, for the next census in my country, I’m wondering how to put down my faith. I’m Shinto. I don’t think Canada has ‘Shinto’ listed.
July 25, 2013 at 12:08 am
Is there a chance to write it in? If not I guess you could always go for the “not classified” box. I’m curious about Shinto but don’t know much about it myself.
July 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm
I made a video about Shinto, that summarizes it in only a few minutes!
Your website was very useful in the Yoruba Script for the new minute faith I am working on. Thank you for your wonderful research!
If you would have any interest in writing articles for spirit science, please contact me. I would be very interested in talking with you.
July 3, 2016 at 1:27 pm
Thanks for the video. What kind of articles about spirit science?
July 5, 2016 at 1:58 pm
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Coming out to governments may be counterproductive. Living by example and serving your self and your community in honesty seems more worthwhile to me. Being secure in identity and personal power is more striking to others than a thousand declarations.
July 16, 2014 at 1:15 pm
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, spirituality is a personal thing, and it’s not really our job or duty to go around declaring – and spreading our spirituality, especially when it can result in abuse/losing a job/etc. Yet on the other hand, I sometimes wonder if more Pagans should come out of the broom closet so we can earn the right for ourselves to practice our religion more openly without oppression, and be able to incorporate our beliefs into more areas of life.
If all gays stayed in the closet, they probably wouldn’t have the rights that they have today.
July 16, 2014 at 1:54 pm
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I guess I fall under “unclassified”???
There are not many “Dragon”-spiritualists that I know of yet, and several of the sites I am a member of, do not seem to be interested in adding any categories as such.
Hmmm. Perhaps, some day.
– Rev. Dragon’s Eye
February 8, 2015 at 3:12 am
best site on the net! \m/. “pagan” earth religion is the true religion, based on intelligent virtuous indo-european ancestors, devoted to earth and male female balance and our people and race and all peoples and races, but true to nature and her laws and preservation of our sacred heritage. balance all forces, sexual and other, Need for destructive forces (metal) as much as constructive. The bible spins a good yarn. We actually do rather than write and we don’t go to church sitting down!! Sedentary Nihilists! The bible stole all its good fables from us anyway and corrupted them, hence the need for destructive energy as healthy transformation of rage/resentment found in metal, metallica, epica, et cetera. BTW Christianity also stole latin from us, but we can take it back. Epica/Jansen is ingenious!
February 19, 2015 at 12:18 am
I whole-heartedly agree. The Old Way is about balance. The Christians had their chance to run the show. What did we get? One of the most advanced empires of the classical era was driven into a Dark Age, and after Christian forces took over a majority of the globe (by 1914) the result was two super destructive world wars and the greatest environmental destruction the world has ever seen. Obviously Christianity cannot be directly blamed for all of these things. But it is an unbalanced set of of values with a hatred of sex and women. Such ideals have helped lead to an unbalanced life on this planet where today’s people treat their mother Earth with just as much contempt as the bible treats its women (as an object to be used and abused, instead of protected and revered). But the old ways are coming back, and with it an understanding of the balance between all things. The reason our ancestors had both male and female gods, and gods of life and death, and gods of chaos and order is because they understood the necessity of balance.
Nature is a system of checks and balances. We must follow Nature’s lead if we are to bring some sanity back to this world.
February 19, 2015 at 12:20 pm
I came across this because I walked away from my Christian faith when I was 16, having never felt connected to it. I just didn’t believe it. I grew up in a very conservative, southern baptist, family. I am almost 30 now and still Pagan but recently got reconnected with my nordic ancestors and now, with full heart, follow Asatru. That said… Over the years, I have noticed a rise of spirituality, paganism, and wicca and the last 5 years seems to be a growth (from my perspective) at an even more increased rate, and it’s all over the world. The greeks are going back to worshipping their gods and Iceland built its first Nordic temple dedicated to old Norse gods (which I plan on going). Personally, I feel like our ancestors, no matter the tribal background, are calling us back to the old ways and old gods. For me, its the Norse gods and the sense of fulfillment since my reconnection, is unbelievably strong… Like getting hit by a divine 2×4. Needless to say, I agree with your statement about Christianity being unbalanced in nature.
Thank you for confirming what I was noticing around me.
December 10, 2015 at 1:39 pm
Thanks for your response! Glad people are returning back to the old ways.
December 10, 2015 at 2:49 pm
Very great blog post. I love how descriptive you are with discussing and proving your viewpoints about different matters and topics from the imbalance state of planet earth, to humanity’s religious convoluted belief systems, and to the statistics about paganism. I’m impressed and I am very grateful for you sharing your viewpoints about these matters from your perspective. Great job. 🙂
September 12, 2015 at 4:56 pm
Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words!
September 13, 2015 at 10:11 pm
September 14, 2015 at 11:28 am
So, I am atheist. Recently I’ve been looking at Paganism more and more. My bloodlines trace back to Celtic Decent. I am not certain the precise location, just that it’s around Scotland/Ireland region.
At any rate, I’d enjoy learning as much as I can. And between you and I; nothing would make me happier than to see Christians on the dying end of faith. What were their words? “Where is your god now?”
Sorry I tend to drone on.
October 10, 2015 at 10:24 pm
I have to step up and support your great blog. It is true that Pagans as a whole are a small group in the U.S. I have been a follower of Hellenism since 1989, and by default a solitary practitioner. However, my faith is stronger than ever. Many Wiccans also follow the Hellenistic Gods, and the internet does help people know the old ways. I recall pouring through book catalogs just to find information. Back then it was not so easy to find information. Thank you for representing us too.
August 13, 2016 at 6:48 pm
No prob! Glad you like the blog!
August 17, 2016 at 9:56 am
I ended up here because a friend had the ‘map’ as his cover photo, and I was curious. So you see, I have many friends of very different faiths. So I warn friends that if they are thin skinned they might not be happy on my page. You’ll see pagans, wiccans, a lot of atheists, and a lot of Christians, and some Muslims to name a few. Mostly conservative, but a lot of liberals, some extreme on both sides. Mostly pro-2nd amendment, but some who hate guns. Some hunters-some peta. Wide variety on my page.
I’m a Christian and will never leave my faith but I support anyone picking their own path.
I do cross the line and get angry when I see hypocrisy. And some of your posters are dissing Christianity and wishing it would die, yet saying Christians should be open to their faith. You cannot have it both ways.
I actually studied Wicca as a young adult when I was unsure of my path because of some personal bad experiences. It was interesting, but not for me. I go to many different churches because I’m interested in learning about all religions. Ba’hai; Islam; Mormom, etc. I would never diss any religion as long as it does not promote killing.
I got blamed for my stepkids leaving Catholocism because I promoted their visiting other churches. They didn’t leave Christianity, but they left the Catholics. I’m Baptist. Hubby is Catholic. They went to an even STRICTER one! A breakoff of Mormom. Doesn’t believe in musical instrument, only voice. Doesn’t believe you can divorce unless you are cheated on. Had I believed that I would be dead. First hubby was abusive.
Please do not throw the Bible up to me. 99% of Christians today follow the NEW testament, not the old. Therefore, I have no interest in listening to any BS about the bible promoting killing.
Let’s be real, most religions thousands of years ago killed. Sacrifice was common in just about every religion.
I would hope we could all move forward and believe whatever our chosen faith says. Exception would be killng. That is not now, nor should it have ever been ok….in any religion. And that includes animal sacrifice. Not ok. Stupid.
Ok, off my rant. Point is that I respect all religions and I expect the same in return from other ones.
September 5, 2016 at 2:44 pm
Paganism is not a religion OMG!!!
June 16, 2017 at 1:59 pm
Paganism definitely is a religion – but some feel threatened by it.
July 1, 2018 at 12:01 pm
All im reading here is that one of jerusalems suburbs needs to have pesticide free kale and no white dudes
January 10, 2019 at 11:50 am
Haha what? Where do you get that from?
January 11, 2019 at 12:36 pm
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