How the distribution of U.S. religious groups has been affected by geographical changes
The U.S. has a diverse culture in terms of the race and religion due to the high number of immigrants who carry their religious practices and beliefs with them. Immigration has led to demographic changes in relation to the religious pattern of the region of origin as well as where they finally settle. The aim of this paper is to examine the extent and how immigration and geographical changes has affected the distribution of religious groups in the U.S.
The distribution of religious groups in the U.S. has changed by new immigrants who have come in with totally new faith, belief, and practices or slightly different conviction and observes. According to New Immigrant Survey, there has been an increase in the number of Catholics migrating into the country. More specifically, the Christians Catholics who have migrated into the country are mainly Orthodox as opposed to American Christians who are protestant (Massey & Higgins 1). The immigration has resulted into distribution of a faith with slightly different views to the preexisting Catholics. It has also led to a new group of Catholics who are considered less Christian with about a fifth of them reported to have other faiths.
The discrimination of the Jews and other religious groups such as the Protestants in Europe around the 1400s led to immigration into the U.S. as they moved to seek refuge and avoid hostility. The trends lead to the U.S. being a home to a large number of religious groups that are considered fringe or marginal. As the immigrants came into the country, there was increased clash of religious beliefs between them and the natives. This led to different states creating laws that banned or were against certain religious groups. The outcome of such laws was further migration by the immigrants to states that could accommodate them or the adherents having to move to new locations. The migration was mainly to prevent persecution and settle in other places that permit specific religions.
As immigrants came into the country, new religions sprung up. Religious leaders in the country also came up with new religions. Such changes led to widespread changes in the distribution of religious groups in the country. When immigrants moved into the country through the Eastern parts, the natives or the adherents would move further to the West of the country. The reason behind this kind of movement was to create space for the immigrants to settle and avoid religious clashes. Another reason for that pattern of movement of distribution was to avoid discrimination since there are no bordering neighbors towards the West of U.S. The distribution in the early days is still evident in the present day America. In the East Coast of U.S., there is an even distribution of all Baptists, Methodists and Lutherans who live in unity together. However, the states in Western America have several religions mixed and living together with the group having majority of the congregants dictating proceedings.
Reports also indicate that there has been an increase in Muslims and Hindus in the country and a significant decline of American Christians due to immigration. The distribution has also been witnessed by changes in the number of Americans affiliated to different religious groups. According to the statistics conducted by Pew Research Center, there has been a decline in Christians while atheists and agnostics without any religious affiliation has risen to about 7% (Lipka 1). Generally, immigration has led to shifts and distribution of religious groups in the U.S. in terms of location, composition and numbers. The changes have affected distribution in Christian faith, Non-Christian faith like Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist, and unaffiliated groups. The distribution within specific religions has also witnessed changes in denominational numbers and location.
- Lipka, Michael. “5 Key Findings about the Changing U.S. Religious Landscape.” Pew Research Center. 27 October 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/12/5-key-findings-u-s-religious-landscape/
- Massey, Douglas & Higgins, Monica. “The Effect of Immigration on Religious Belief and Practice: A Theologizing or Alienating Experience?” NCBI. 27 October 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3629734/