UNITED STATES, July 2, 2014 (The Atlantic by Tanya Basu): In early June, I visited my hometown of Glendale Heights, about 25 miles west of Chicago. Making my way through the old avenues that had marked my childhood, I noticed something curious: The churches that had dominated the street corners of my suburban youth--from magnificent stone structures with ornate stained glass windows to homey, unmarked brick buildings--were either getting demolished or being sold to become Hindu temples.
As strange as it may be to see "Gayatri Gyan Mandir" on the outside of a building that could be next to the dictionary entry for "church," it's part of a larger story of the changing demographics of American society. It's not just in Chicago, and it's not a unidirectional trend. Synagogues are becoming mosques, Baptists are changing hands with Korean congregations, pagodas are moving into office buildings.
The handover in houses of worship across the country is not a straightforward case of an increase in non-Christian immigrants in the United States. In fact, many church sales can be attributed to shifts among Christian denominations.Roman Catholic weekly service attendance has slid from 75 percent in 1955 to 45 percent in the mid-2000s, while Southern Baptist and Evangelical churches have seen big drops in attendance.
Beyond the Christian faith, immigration is shaping the religious landscape of America and influencing the church purchasing process. A recent map from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies of the second most popular religions in states across the country showed that Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism were represented strongly across the country. Though Christianity remains the overwhelmingly dominant religion of choice in the U.S., other faiths are quickly growing, such as Hinduism in Arizona and Delaware and the Baha'i faith in South Carolina.
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