Southern Baptist Convention membership fell by nearly half a million in 2022
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – While continuing as America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday announced that its already declining membership dropped by 457,371 in 2022, returning it to the same level it was in the late 1970s, the Washington Times reports.
The SBC still has 13.2 million members, but overall membership has seen declines of 3% in the past three years, the Times said. The new membership total is now almost the same as the 13,196,979 it was in 1978.
There were 47,198 Southern Baptists congregations last year, 416 fewer than in 2021, the Times said.
The denomination has been dogged by an “apocalyptic” sex abuse cover-up scandal which exploded last year, but religious demographer Ryan Burge told the Times that much of the SBC’s post-COVID-19 membership decline may be due to the rapidly increasing number of people who identify as “unaffiliated” and who belong to non-denominational churches.
“I also think that the SBC has been an institution, and institutions in America are not doing well,” Burge, an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University, added in his statement to the Times. “Trust in institutions is declining every day — not just religion, but banks, big business, unions, politicians, you name it.”