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The Largest Baptist Communities
Regarding Baptist statistics: Baptists do not belong to a single religious body, but are members of many distinct religious bodies, often called "conventions" or "unions".
The national figures here represent religious bodies which are part of the Baptist World Alliance, an umbrella consultative organization which represents most of the world's Baptists.
In the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Baptist religious body, but there are many others. Southern Baptists constitute just under one-third of all U.S. Baptists, and about 7% of all U.S. Christians.
In order to increase attendance and revenue, many individual Baptist churches are currently dropping the word "Baptist" from their name, often calling themselves "Community" churches. Other Baptist churches are de-emphasizing the word "Baptist" in signs and when they talk about their church. Also, Baptist agencies such as LifeWay and North American Mission Board have dropped the word "Baptist" from their name entirely. [News stories about name changes appear regularly. See, for example, "Call to worship starts with a new church name" (Detroit Free Press).]
Churches are also withdrawing from the Southern Baptist Convention at an increasing pace, usually for philosophical or theological reasons. Some of these churches become affiliated with an alternative Baptist convention which is affiliated with the BWA, some remain independent Baptist churches, and some shift to a "nondenominational" format.
These trends and recent survey data indicate that the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Baptist is decreasing, while the proportion identifying themselves as "non-denominational Christian", "Evangelical" or members of a "community church" is increasing.
In a related development, the Associated Press reported that on 16 November 1999, 60 percent of Southern Baptists attending California's annual convention voted to drop "Southern" from their name. "Supporters of the change said it would be simply a way to attract more members. Opponents feared the move would have shown a softening of a conservative movement within the church." This proposal did not pass, however, because it fell just short of the required two-thirds vote.
Top 20 Nations with the
(Democratic Republic of Congo)
|Central African Republic||40,800||1.17|
|Papua New Guinea||35,500||0.77|
(Democratic Republic of Congo)
The states with the highest proportion of Southern Baptists are Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Kentucky. According to U.S. government statistics, this is the region with the nation's highest divorce rate. The U.S. states with the highest divorce rates are Nevada, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma. The SBC has recently begun working with other conservative Protestant churches to explore ways to lower the high divorce rate among Southern Baptists. [Source: "Bible Belt class targets nation's top divorce rate", Associated Press, 13 November 1999.]