Racially diverse nation isn’t mirrored in most religious groups

By Robert Dilday
Baptist News Global

The American Baptist Churches U.S.A. ranks in the top 10 of the most racially diverse religious groups in the United States, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.

But with 73 percent of its membership white, 11 percent Latino and 10 percent black, the ABCUSA — and most other Baptist groups — lacks the diversity found among Seventh-day Adventists, Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses, the study found.

About 66 percent of all American adults are white, 15 percent are Latino, 12 percent black and 4 percent Asian. The study looked at 29 groups — including religious denominations and subsets of people who are religiously unaffiliated — to discover that diversity varies widely among them.

Seventh-day Adventists top the list with a membership that is 37 percent white, 32 percent black, 15 percent Latino and 8 percent Asian.

Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses are close behind, as no racial or ethnic group makes up more than 40 percent of either group.

Catholics also ranked high, largely because of sizable Latino minorities. Some 59 percent of American Catholics are white and 34 percent are Latino. Both blacks and Asians represent 3 percent.

In the Southern Baptist Convention, 85 percent of members are white, with blacks representing 6 percent and Latinos 3 percent. Meanwhile, the National Baptist Convention has a membership that is 99 percent black.

In the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, white members number 90 percent or higher.

Robert Dilday is editor in chief of Baptist News Global.