Protestant decline; evangelical, non-denominational, and Pentecostal
crowd at 1996 Billy Graham Crusade, Minneapolis
Some "mainline" Protestant
denominations--Methodist, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Disciples
of Christ, and others--declined in membership for most of the twentieth-century.
Lutherans and other mainline groups barely sustained membership, in a
time of national population growth. At the same time, however, the twentieth
century was a time of steady growth for Southern Baptists
and independent evangelical churches. The most dramatic church growth
has been among the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal groups. Spectacular
growth occurred in Mormonism, which
at the close of the twentieth century had 5.1 million members in 1998
in the U.S.--more than the combined total of the Episcopal Church and
the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Mainline decline was one part of a larger
picture: overall church membership in the U.S. expanded from about 25
percent of Americans in 1870 to about 61 percent in 1990.