Mormons and Muslims may have long been considered minority religions, but in Houston and across the country, their numbers have grown since 2000.
New data show the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Islamic congregations had significant growth in the past decade, while more familiar faiths - Catholics, Baptists and Methodists - grew 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 our fifth most-populous faith, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.
"The numbers may be underestimated, even," said Aziz Saddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. "It's mostly converts. 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, offering a fuller picture than in 2000, so the growth numbers may be exaggerated, church spokesman Michael Purdy said.
ARDA's survey, conducted every 10 years, is the closest thing to a religious census, since the government census does not ask Americans their affiliation. It only measures the number of adherents, that is, people who belong to a congregation.
The Mormon-Muslim boom is going on across the country, and experts attribute it to LDS organization strategy and post-9/11 converts to Islam, the Religion News Service wrote.
Catholicism, the most popular faith here, grew 20 percent. Southern Baptists grew by 20 percent, and Methodists by 7 percent.
Protestant denominations with membership falling slightly include the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
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