Jun 21 2012
Houston's Most Popular Faiths [Excerpts]
Mormons and Muslims may have long been considered minority religions, but in Houston and across the country, their numbers have been booming since 2000.
Newly released data show the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Islamic congregations in the area experienced significant growth in the past decade or so, while more familiar faiths—Catholics, Baptists and Methodists—continued to expand as well.
In Harris County, the Mormon Church brought its numbers up to 45,000, and Muslims began at least a dozen congregations and grew to an estimated 117,000 members, making it the fifth most-populous faith in the area, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.
“The numbers may be underestimated, even,” said Aziz Siddiqi, head of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. “It’s mostly converts. I don’t think it’s immigrants; it’s African-Americans, Hispanics, white Americans. If you go to the mosque, you’ll see.”
For the 2010 survey, the LDS church counted all baptized Mormons in an area, offering a fuller picture of membership than in 2000, so the growth numbers may be exaggerated, church spokesman Michael Purdy said. Still, the church is continuing to add members across Harris County and surrounding areas.
During the period, Catholicism, the most popular faith in the Houston area, grew by about 20 percent. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s rapid ascent and continued growth was most recently noted during Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s ad liminia visit with the pope. Southern Baptists grew by 20 percent, and Methodists by 7 percent.