Muslims Are Overtaking Jews as the Second Highest U.S Religious Group

Brittany M. Hughes | January 11, 2018
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Islam is projected to easily overtake Judaism as the second-largest religion in the U.S. over the next two decades.

On top of that, a new Pew research study projects the U.S. Muslim population will double in size by 2050.

“By 2040, Muslims will replace Jews as the nation’s second-largest religious group after Christians,” Pew projects. “And by 2050, the U.S. Muslim population is projected to reach 8.1 million, or 2.1% of the nation’s total population — nearly twice the share of today.”

But this unprecedented growth in the number of U.S. Muslims isn’t an organic one. Pew notes that Islam in the United States isn’t springing up naturally – it’s being imported. Increasingly large numbers of Muslim immigrants and refugees were admitted to the United States under the Obama years; a record high of about 39,000 arrived in 2016 alone. The recent wave exponentially added to the relatively low number of Muslims who’d lived in the U.S. prior to the last decade.

Today, Pew notes that roughly three in four Muslims currently living in the U.S. are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, once again proving that admitting large numbers of refugees doesn't just score a nation brownie points in the global compassion arena -- it also fundamentally and irreversibly alters a nation's cultural demographic.

Even though the number of refugees admitted under the new Trump administration has decreased significantly from the Obama years, the number of U.S. Muslims is still on the rise, largely due to their higher birth rates, Pew noted.

When we first conducted a study of Muslim Americans in 2007, we estimated that there were 2.35 million Muslims of all ages (including 1.5 million adults) in the U.S. By 2011, the number of Muslims had grown to 2.75 million (including 1.8 million adults). Since then, the Muslim population has continued to grow at a rate of roughly 100,000 per year, driven both by higher fertility rates among Muslim Americans as well as the continued migration of Muslims to the U.S.

By contrast, while the number of Christians is still expected to rise numerically over that same time frame, it’s also expected decrease compared to the total population. Pew projects that the overall percentage of Christians in the United States will drop from close to 80 percent in 2010 to 66 percent by 2050.

The number of Americans who consider themselves “unaffiliated” with any religion, on the other hand, is projected to jump from about 18 percent in 2010 to nearly 26 percent by mid-century.

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