Less than half of Americans now identify as both white and Christian, the first time that's happened in the nation's history, according to a new survey.
The proportion of Americans who now identify as white and Christian have dropped below 50 percent based on a study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, or PRRI, a Washington-based polling organization. Prior surveys found nearly 8 in 10 Americans had said they are white and Christian.
The shift, the group says, can be attributed to immigration and to a growing number of individuals who have rejected organized religion altogether.
Evangelical Protestants who are also white once made up almost a quarter of the population in 2006 but now only account for 17 percent of it. White Catholics also dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent. Mainline Protestant denominations, such as Presbyterians and Lutherans, have also seen a drop from 18 percent to 13 percent.
Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists were found to be far younger than the white and Christian group. Forty-two percent of Muslims, 36 percent of Hindus, and 3 percent of Buddhists are under the age of 30.
Fewer than half of all states are now majority white and Christian. The group's 2007 survey, found 39 states had majority white and Christian populations. Mississippi was found to be the least religiously diverse with New York as the most.
"So often, white evangelicals have been pointing in judgment to white mainline groups, saying when you have liberal theology you decline," Robert Jones, chief executive of PRRI said. "I think this data really does challenge that interpretation of linking theological conservatism and growth."
The findings are troubling for conservative Christians who are seeking to find their footing in a society that they feel runs contrary to their socially conservative beliefs on issues like same-sex marriage. Almost a third of Republicans identify as White Christian and have been a solid bloc of support for Preisdent Trump. He won over 80 percent of their vote in 2016 with his promise to protect religious liberty.
White Christian voters have also become a minority in the Democratic party, with only 1 in 3 saying they are compared to 50 percent just ten years ago. Only 14 percent of young Democrats, aged 18 to 29, identify as White Christian.