One Million Strong And Growing

I saw an article today in the Rhode Island News, it is a pretty generic story about a Wiccan handfasting ceremony with the usual errors. But one thing caught my eye this time around. They quoted someone from The Pluralism Project at Harvard.

“Paganism, the worship of nature and earth, [sigh!] has become a religion that “has sparked a lot of interest,” said Grove Harris, the managing director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. The Pluralism Project, which collects statistics from a number of different sources, estimates that between 768,000 and 1 million people in the United States practice a form of it.”

This is one of the bigger institutions to back up the “one million American Pagans” assertion. I have discussed the matter of how many modern Pagans there are before. The million mark is backed up by scholar James R. Lewis who states that 3/4 of a million is “probably a conservative estimate”, and by The Witches’ Voice, the most popular Pagan web site around. The Covenant of The Goddess who conducted a poll in 2000 that estimated around 768,000 modern Pagans in North America, is conducting a new poll to gauge our population growth (deadline is March 21st, so stand up and be counted!).

I think at this point it is reasonable to assert that there are around one million modern Pagans in North America (and around 3 million worldwide), and all signs seem to be pointing to a continuing growth trend. I recently linked to a study that seems to say that the next generation of modern Pagans may be even bigger than we thought.

“…the Barna Group (a Christian market research firm) has released the findings of three national studies of over 4000 teens dealing with their interest in the “supernatural”. The study finds that an overwhelming majority of teens (73%) have participated in “psychic or witchcraft-related activity, beyond mere media exposure or horoscope usage.” One third of this number have read a book on Wicca or Witchcraft. Nearly two million teens according to the study claim to have psychic/magical abilities.”

So what does this all mean? Well, gaining some perspective from (taking into account the numbers discussed here) it is becoming hard to ignore that we are reaching a population point where modern Paganism is entering the mainstream of modern American religious life (we collectively outnumber or rival several “world” religions in America already). What this means for “us” in the long term is anyone’s guess, but I doubt we’ll fit into the margins of society for much longer.