The Houston Chronicle has reported that Protestants will soon cease to be the majority of Americans. As one source in the article was quoted as saying, it will be the first time this was true since the founding of the Jamestown colony that Protestants were not a majority.
There are two interesting things about this. First, Jamestown was English Protestants, but Florida, California, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, and the Mississippi Valley weren’t. They were French and Spanish Catholics. Alaska was Russian Orthodox. This, of course, completely ignores the aboriginal populations in all of these areas, but since the article did, I will too. In any case, this first-time-since-Jamestown business starts to seem like more of a historical accident than anything else. If the United States had gotten the Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican American War settlement, Florida, and Texas in 1789, when it got to the Mississippi, we might have read this headline in the early 1800s instead of the early 2000s.
The second interesting thing is that the survey in question only counted as a “Protestant” a member of a mainline Protestant church (i.e. Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, etc.). As such, many of the “megachurches” were excluded from being counted as Protestant. I figure that the people who are really concerned about these sorts of things (they call them Unionists in the UK) will wise up to this before too long. Redefine “Protestant” to mean neither Catholic nor Orthodox and the majority tag comes roaring back. Restrict it to the mainline denominations and be part of a plurality. I think I see where this is headed.
Which reminds me . . . I have always joked that whites will never become a minority in the United States because we change the definition of “white” to suit our majoritarian needs. For instance, there are old writings from colonial times that differentiate Germans and whites (wouldn’t Hitler have loved to know that!), while there are writings from the 1950s describing race riots in American cities as being “between the whites and the blacks” and advising Polish immigrants to stay out of the fight. The Irish, the Italians, and the Greeks have all been considered non-white in the past. They are all (generally) considered white now. My guess is that largely European Latin Americans, the Japanese, and possibly the Koreans are next on the race-switching parade. Makes it seem pretty pointless to be racist when the definitions change like that.