The Southern Baptist Convention counted 314,959 baptisms in 2012, the lowest since 1948, Religion News Service reports.
“It’s a sad situation,” says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. “In 1948, we had 6 million members of the SBC but today we have (nearly) 16 million members.”
Some of the reasons cited for the decline:
- A rise in secularism: One in five Americans today say they have no religious identity
- More interfaith marriages: One in four U.S. households were multifaith in 2006, up from 15 percent in 1988.
- Fewer marriages officiated by clergy: In 1970, there were 426,000 marriages in the nation’s Catholic churches, or 20 percent of all marriages. In 2011, there were 164,000 such weddings, only 8 percent of all marriages. But in both years, Catholics were 23 percent of the population. Catholic baptism rates fell at a parallel pace, from a little more than 1 million baptisms in 1970 to 793,103 in 2011.
Photo: The British royal family does their bit to make christenings popular. | Reuters