Buffalo, NY: Christians and Jews declining in number, Muslim population increasing
Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 7, 2012
Ho hum, as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops asks the US State Department for more Muslims to resettle in your towns and cities, the number of Catholics and Jews are declining in “welcoming” Buffalo.
[If you are interested, here is a database to help you figure out who is coming to your town.]
Before reading on, you might want to check our archives on Buffalo here. Wow! We have a lot of stories from Buffalo! It was just two weeks ago we read about the Somali father who beat his young son to death in Buffalo over homework.
From Buffalo News:
Nearly half the residents in the Buffalo Niagara region are considered “unclaimed” by a religious group — a stunning change from just a decade ago, when the percentage of the population affiliated with a faith tradition was higher here than in any other metropolitan area in the country.
Catholicism, most mainline Protestant denominations, Judaism and some evangelical denominations in the Buffalo Niagara region experienced huge membership declines between 2000 and 2010, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, which last week released the results of the latest U.S. Religion Census.
The study also showed exponential growth of the local Muslim community, which is now estimated at 18,483 people in Erie and Niagara counties, up from about 5,400 a decade ago.
That makes Islam the second most-practiced world religion in Western New York, behind Christianity.
Judaism slipped to third, with a total of 8,084 adherents in Buffalo Niagara, down from an estimate of 20,150 in 2000.
Catholicism alone lost more than a third of its members in Erie and Niagara counties — 217,944 parishioners in all — over the last decade, according to the census.
The membership declines already have resulted in widespread closings of houses of worship, particularly in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which has shuttered about 75 church buildings since 2005.
I suspect the Catholic population is kept somewhat steadier, but still dropping, in other parts of the country because of the large number of Hispanic (legal and illegal) immigrants helping to inflate the numbers.
Nationally, Catholicism lost about 5 percent of its membership from a decade ago.
My guess is that a lot of Catholics have fallen away because they are sick of the sex scandals and the increasingly leftwing politics of the church (which may change somewhat as the church begins to stand up to Obama).
In Buffalo a “whopping 242% increase” in Muslims:
The presence of Muslims grew by 67 percent nationwide, with estimates now pegged at 2.6 million, according to the census.
But in Buffalo Niagara, the percent increase for Muslims was a whopping 242 percent.
The 18,483 estimate appeared to be accurate, according to Dr. Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York.
US government policy encourages immigration from Muslim countries (no kidding!):
Qazi attributed the growth to several factors, beginning with immigration changes dating back to the Lyndon Johnson administration that allowed immigrants from primarily Muslim countries to enter the United States.
……in Buffalo, the resettlement of refugees from Bosnia and Somalia has added to the local Muslim community, which also tends to have families with more children, he said.
“As much as we saw loss of population [overall for Buffalo], it would be far higher if we did not see refugee resettlement,” Qazi said.
So, other than federal money for welfare (and food stamps) flowing to the Buffalo region with refugees, how does the increase in population of low income people help Buffalo? And, how is that working out for the Catholic Church?
Related story (hat tip, Robert): Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York encourages mosque building (this time in Wisconsin). When will some of those shuttered Catholic Churches in Buffalo become mosques? Maybe that has happened already! Hey, that is an idea, the Catholic Church can make money by selling unused church property to Muslims!
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