Minnesota's religious landscape became more diverse in the 1990s, although the state remains mostly Lutheran and Catholic, according to a survey of U.S. religious institutions.
From 1990 to 2000, the state has seen double digit percentage increases for Jews and the Latter-day Saints. Muslims were also counted in significant numbers for the first time. The research also found that Minnesota has more evangelical Christians and fewer mainline Protestants.
The survey, released last week, said Minnesota is home to Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Hindus, Taoists and Zoroastrians.
But while religious activity is higher here (62 percent ascribe to a specific faith) than the national norm (about 50 percent), it has dropped in Minnesota over the past decade.
The data is from a study conducted by the Glenmary Research Center in Nashville, Tenn., a Catholic research and social service organization that coordinates the study with analysts from several faiths. It's one of just a few religious surveys across denominations.
The 149 participating faiths sent membership estimates to Glenmary, which adjusted the figures to make them comparable. The U.S. Census Bureau does not collect information on religion.
Methodists are still Minnesota's second-largest Protestant group, after the Lutherans, and there are still more than twice as many Methodists as any other Protestant denomination. However, statewide they are down 17.4 percent from 142,771 to 117,990 members.
Some of the decline in mainline churches is attributed to the cleaning of membership rolls and the loss of rural population.
"It's our failure to market what we have to families and individuals," said the Rev. Wilson Yates, a United Methodist and president of United Theological Seminary. "And we are dealing with serious matters -- the state and nurture of people's souls."
Meanwhile, the evangelicals are succeeding where the mainline churches are failing.
"Evangelicals have never shied away from innovation," said Randall Balmer, an expert on American religious history. "They are acutely market conscious. They understand they have to cater to their consumers, and they do it."
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Glenmary Research Center: http://www.glenmary.org/default.htm
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