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The Largest Southern Baptist Communities

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Miscellaneous Statistics

The Southern Baptist Convention is the second largest religious body in the United States (Catholics are the largest).

The Southern Baptist Convention has more churches (over 37,000) in the United States than any other religious body - even more than the Catholic Church.

Over half of all Southern Baptists in the world live in five Southern states: Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.

The states with the highest proportion of Southern Baptists are Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

At last count the Southern Baptist Convention employed 4,857 "home" missionaries (in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands) and 4,137 foreign missionaries (in 130 nations), for a total of nearly nine thousand missionaries worldwide.

Most SBC clergy are men, but as of December, 1997 there were 1,225 ordained women in the Southern Baptist Convention. [Source: "Ordained Southern Baptist Women", article on the Way of Life website; URL:]

Southern Baptists as a percentage of state populations. Click here or on map to see a larger version.

Top 20 U.S. States with Highest Percentage of
Southern Baptists in the Population, 1990

Mississippi 869,942 33.81%
Alabama 1,313,907 32.52
Oklahoma 964,615 30.67
Tennessee 1,343,312 27.54
Kentucky 962,945 26.13
South Carolina 894,390 25.65
Arkansas 617,524 24.99
Georgia 1,582,520 24.43
North Carolina 1,446,228 21.82
Texas 3,259,395 19.19
Louisiana 757,639 17.95
Missouri 789,183 15.42
Virginia 742,860 12.01
New Mexico 158,873 10.49
Florida 1,167,850 9.03
Alaska 28,718 5.22
Arizona 162,887 4.44
Wyoming 18,674 4.12
Kansas 96,524 3.90
Maryland 131,627 2.75

Top 20 U.S. States with Most
Southern Baptists, 1990

Texas 19.19% 3,259,395
Georgia 24.43 1,582,520
North Carolina 21.82 1,446,228
Tennessee 27.54 1,343,312
Alabama 32.52 1,313,907
Florida 9.03 1,167,850
Oklahoma 30.67 964,615
Kentucky 26.13 962,945
South Carolina 25.65 894,390
Mississippi 33.81 869,942
Missouri 15.42 789,183
Louisiana 17.95 757,639
Virginia 12.01 742,860
Arkansas 24.99 617,524
California 1.70 504,516
Illinois 2.56 292,644
Ohio 1.74 188,219
Arizona 4.44 162,887
New Mexico 10.49 158,873
Maryland 2.75 131,627

Source: Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1990, published by the Glenmary Research Center, P.O. Box 507, Mars Hill, NC 28754. Principle investigator: Church Growth Research Center, Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City, MO. This data source was obtained from the American Religion Data Archive.

Gallup Polling Data on Southern Baptists

The reported membership of the Southern Baptist Convention has risen slowly, which indicates better growth than many "mainstream" or "oldline" denominations, which have actually declined steadily in size over the last twenty years.

But the proportion of Americans who identify themselves as Southern Baptists has declined steadily and significantly over the past ten years, from 10% in 1993 to just 6% in 2001.

These figures represent the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Southern Baptists, according to the aggregate figures from a year's worth of polling by Gallup []:

Year% of Americans
who say they are
Southern Baptists
2001 6%
2000 8%
1999 9%
1998 8%
1997 8%
1996 8%
1995 10%
1994 10%
1993 10%
1992 9%

These figures are the results of responses to two questions. The first determined people's general religion: What is your religious preference -- Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish or an Orthodox religion such as the Greek or Russian Orthodox Church?

Then, if the respondent said they were a Protestant, a follow up question was asked: What specific denomination is that?

During the same 10-year period, there was no similar change observed among other Protestant denominations. "Other Baptists" accounted for 10% of Americans in 1992, and were still 10% in 2001. 10% of Americans said they were Methodists in 1992; 9% in 2001. The figures for Presbyterianism fluctuated between 3 and 5% throughout the period, within the margin of error, and without discernible patten of decline or growth. Episcopalians held at 2% essentially throughout the decade. Lutherans were 6 or 7% in all but one of the years. Pentecostals rose from 1 to 3%, with what seemed to be a real growth trend.

Religion News Services, 3 March 2001:
The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has approved a new Council on Family Life that will promote families based on traditional Judeo-Christian values. The committee said problems facing families include an all-time high divorce rate, infidelity and promotion of alternative lifestyles. For the next two years, the council on Family Life will work on a strategy to assist "fractured" families and support and "multiply" already existing Southern Baptist programs that promote traditional families. The new plans follow the 1998 adoption of a statement that affirmed heterosexual marriage and stated that wives should "submit . . . graciously" to their husbands. Former council President Tom Elliff, who headed the study committee, said he did not want The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be the only religious group known for its concern about families. "Why shouldn't that be Southern Baptists?" he asked the Executive Committee.

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Created 2 June 1999. Last updated 30 September 2005.