MULTIRACIAL & How Many Churches in the U.S. are multiracial?

Sadly, no. Eleven o’clock Sunday morning continues to be the most segregated hour in America. But there are signs that a major change is underway. Our 2010 Faith Communities Today study of over 11,000 congregations found the percentage of multiracial congregations (based on the 20% or more minority criteria) had nearly doubled in the past decade to 13.7 percent. See our Huffington Post article on multiracial churches.

A late 1990’s study by sociologist Michael Emerson showed that “multiracial churches” (where 20 percent of members were of different racial groups from that congregation’s majority race) accounted for between 7-8 percent of U.S. congregations.

Our 2010 study indicated that the percent of multiracial congregations are increasing in all faith groupings. In Emerson’s study, 5 percent of Protestant churches and 15 percent of Roman Catholic churches were multiracial, while in 2010, 12.5% of Protestant churches and 27% of other Christian churches (Catholic/Orthodox) were multiracial.

Additionally, non-Christian congregations have considerable racial diversity. The 2010 survey found that 35 percent of congregations in faith traditions such as Bahai, Muslim, Sikh, and others were multiracial.

The largest churches in the country also seem to have it easier. Large Catholic churches are significantly multiracial. Likewise, sociologist Scott Thumma found, in the 2005 “Megachurches Today” study, that megachurches have an multiracial advantage as well that balance. In his study, 35 percent of megachurches claimed to have 20 percent or more minorities. What’s more, 56 percent of megachurches said they were making an intentional effort to become multi-racial.

Want to know more? Check out People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States (Princeton University Press, 2006) or other books by Michael Emerson. Also, read the Megachurches Today 2005 report at http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/megachurch/megachurches_research.html

The Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong, 11/9/16.