Estimating growing number of US Pagans

MIAMI (The Wild Hunt) — For years now, Christianity has had declining membership and influence in the “West.” At the same time, Paganism has been growing. Nietzsche may have made his claim that “God is dead” 100 years too early. The revival of Pagan practices may be one of its consequences. The Pew Research Center (PRC) has as one of its core areas of interest, “Religion and Public Life.”  It provides extensive reportage on this decline in Christian identity.

Parsing the Pew Numbers

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has released a new study of the religious landscape in America. The results, which the Pew Forum calls “unprecedentedly precise”, points towards an increasingly “post-Christian” landscape in America. “The United States is firmly 78 percent Christian but barely 51 percent Protestant, according to a survey released Monday (Feb. 25). The findings, part of the sweeping U.S. Religious Landscape Survey produced by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, reaffirm a decades-long decline toward minority status for the family of churches that long steered American politics and culture.”

Mainstreamed, In Demand, Yet Shrinking?

Is modern Paganism becoming more mainstream, yet shrinking in size? That seems to be the gist of two recent articles that talked to practitioners and academics about the state of modern Paganism today. Reuters reporter Sarah Marsh interviews famed Alexandrian priestess Maxine Sanders, who explains that Witches and Pagans are more in demand than ever before.”‘Witches are getting more and more in demand. People want a pagan wedding,’ said Maxine Sanders, high priestess of the sacred mysteries and a promoter of the modern nature-based witchcraft movement of Wicca … People are more tolerant on the whole nowadays, she added, and more interested in witchcraft.”Elsewhere in the article, pop-culture boosts to Wicca and other modern Pagan religions through shows like “Buffy” and “Charmed” are mentioned, but a metaphysical store owner says these newcomers aren’t necessarily in it for the religion.”More and more people are practicing magic but they are not necessarily interested in the spiritual side of witchcraft, said John Cole, high priest of a Manchester coven and owner of an occult shop selling everything from cauldrons to Viking rune charms.”Some of these themes are taken up in a Samhain-themed article for The Record in Canada.

Is Paganism’s Growth Leveling Off?

One of the pervasive beliefs about modern Paganism is that we are growing at an explosive rate. Several studies (often by conservative Christian polling groups) exclaim excitedly of how teens are picking up “occult” and Pagan practices in huge numbers, or how the vast majority of Americans believe in “the paranormal” to one extent or another. Recently, an Australian study of religion claimed that modern Pagan faiths were the fastest growing in that country.”Amongst those religions on the rise are Buddhism (up 79% since 1996), Islam (up 40%), Hinduism (up 42%), Pentecostalism (up 11%), ‘nature religions’ including Paganism and Wicca/witchcraft, (up 130%), and Scientology (up 37%).”But is our collective explosive growth now leveling off? While we still have no firm data on America’s Pagan population, new data from Australia’s 2006 census has just been released that sheds some new light on Pagan growth rates. Sociologist (and Pagan) Douglas Ezzy reveals that Pagan growth rates seem to be slowing down*.”We just heard the figures for the Australian 2006 Census.