The majority of Americans (76%) identify themselves as Christians, mostly within Protestant and Catholic denominations, accounting for 51% and 25% of the population respectively. Non-Christian religions (including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism), collectively make up about 3.9% to 5.5% of the adult population. Another 15% of the adult populationidentifies as having no religious belief or no religious affiliation. When asked, about 5.2% said they did not know, or refused to reply. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, religious belief varies considerably across the country: 59% of Americans living in Western states (the "Unchurched Belt") report a belief in God, yet in the South (the "Bible Belt") the figure isas high as 86%.
The First Amendment to the country's Constitution prevents the Federal government from making any "law respecting an establishment of religion", and guarantees the free exercise of religion. TheSupreme Court has interpreted this as preventing the government from having any authority in religion.
From the early colonial days, when English and German settlerscame in search of religious freedom, America has been profoundly influenced by religion. That influence continues in American culture, social life, and politics.
Several of the original Thirteen Colonies were established by settlers who wished to practice their own religion without discrimination: the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established by English Puritans (Congregationalists),Pennsylvania by British Quakers, Maryland by English Catholics, and Virginia by English Anglicans.
Freedom of religion
Although some New England states continued to use tax money to fund local Congregational churches into the 1830s, the United States was the first nation to have no official state-endorsed religion.
Modeling the provisions concerning religion within the Virginia Statute forReligious Freedom, the framers of the Constitution rejected any religious test for office, and the First Amendment specifically denied the federal government any power to enact any law respecting either an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise, thus protecting any religious organization, institution, or denomination from government interference. The decision was mainly influencedby European Rationalist and Protestant ideals, but was also a consequence of the pragmatic concerns of minority religious groups and small states that did not want to be under the power or influence of a national religion that did not represent them.
Main religious preferences of Americans
Christianity: (76% to 82.3%)
Unaffiliated, including atheist or agnostic (11.6% to15% )
Judaism (1.2% to 2.2%)
Islam (0.6% to 2.6%)
Buddhism (0.5% to 0.9%)
ChristianityThe largest religion in the US is Christianity, practiced by the majority of the population (76% in 2008). From those queried, roughly 51.3% of Americans are Protestants, 25% are Catholics, and 1.7% are Mormons (the name commonly used torefer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and 1.7% to various other Christian denominations. Christianity was introduced during the period of European colonization.
By the 2010 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, from which members in the United States are combined with Canadian members, and of the National Council of Churches, the five largestdenominations are:
The Catholic Church, 68,115,001 members
The Southern Baptist Convention, 16,228,438 members
The United Methodist Church, 7,853,987 members
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,974,041 members
The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members
Due to its large population and history, the United States has numerically more Christians (and more Protestants) than any...