The Mainline Protestants are a group of Christians who are separate from the Evangelical Protestants. Amongst all Protestants, they are considered the minority. Only 15% of Americans identify as Mainline Protestants. The churches which are categorized under Mainline Protestants include Quakers, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Disciple of Christ, American Baptist Churches, Presbyterian Church, United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Reformed Church in America among others. The highest population of the Mainline Protestants is found in South Dakota.
Mainline Protestantism By State
The Midwest has the highest concentration of Mainline Protestants with South Dakota (32%), Iowa (30%), and Minnesota (29%) having the highest populations. Other states which have high numbers of Mainline Protestants include West Virginia (29%), North Dakota (28%), Kansas (24%), Nebraska (24%), Pennsylvania (23%), Delaware (21%), and Maine (21%). The least numbers of Mainline Protestants are found in Louisiana and Utah which are only 8% and 6% of their total populations. An explanation for such low numbers in Utah is that most of the residents are Mormons. Louisiana, on the other hand, is dominated by Catholics.
Among these Mainline Protestants, there exists a pattern with regards to the age groups. The largest numbers of people who subscribe to the religion are ages 30-49 (29%) and 50-64 (29%). The other age groups such as 18-29 and 65 and above make up 16% and 26% of the Mainline Protestants respectively. Many of the Mainline Protestants are Republicans in their political affiliations. They take a liberal approach to social issues and often stress on personal salvation and social justice. The Mainline Protestants were instrumental in advocating for the women movement and the civil rights movement.
Most of the Mainline Protestants believe in heaven and hell according to a PEW study. 66% of the Protestants believe in God and 53% of them are convinced that religion is an important part of one’s life. However, there were interesting aspects of the study. First, the study revealed that only 33% of Mainline Protestants went to church. Furthermore many believers (44%) seldom read the scriptures regularly. With regards to right and wrong, most Mainline Protestants do not believe in a clear cut standard for morality. They seem to support the relativity ideology where right and wrong depend on the situation.
The Decline of Mainline Protestants
Before the 1960s, the Mainline Protestants had a high membership subscription and growth rates in the United States. The decline began in the early 1960s leading to the few numbers seen today. Some of the reasons attributed to the decline include the exodus of the youth in the 1970s, believers’ search for richer spiritual diets, and the indifference of the Mainline Protestants towards the struggles of the Black, oppressed, and the poor in the society. Furthermore, most members left because they felt that the church had become weak, not providing answers to life’s questions. Another theory which tries to explain the decline in numbers of Mainline Protestants points towards secularization. According to the theory, the spread of mass education, industrialization, and urbanization led to the reduced numbers of the Mainline Protestants.