The U.S. religious landscape is shifting, and no one may be more thankful than GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney.
The 2010 U.S. Religion Census, released today on the Association of Religion Data Archives, found that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gained the most regular members in the last 10 years, growing by nearly 2 million to a total of 6.14 million adherents in 13,600 congregations.
Some of the church’s largest percentage gains were in places such as Tazewell County, Virginia; Bath County, Kentucky, and Big Horn County, Montana. As Romney makes his historic run to be the first Mormon president, there are few places on the 2012 campaign trail he will go where people are not close to a Latter-day Saint congregation or neighbors who share his faith.
But the denomination is not the only one spreading its wings nationally in a time of increasing religious diversity, the census shows.
Consider these findings:
Taken together, nondenominational and independent churches may now be considered the third largest religious group in the country, with 12.2 million adherents in 35,500 congregations. Only the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention are larger.
The U.S. was home to 2,106 mosques nationwide in 2010. The figure includes 166 mosques in Texas, 118 in Florida and 50 Muslim houses of worship in North Carolina.
Buddhist congregations were reported in all 50 states, and Hindu houses of worship in 49 states.
Still, not everyone was a winner in the religious marketplace.
Mainline Protestant churches lost an average of 12.8 percent of adherents in the first decade of the 21st century; 5 percent fewer active members were found in Catholic churches.