As the population of Los Angeles has grown, so have the many religious congregations and other faith- based nonprofits. Since 1990 the number of religious congregations has grown substantially, and since 1995, the number of faith-based nonprofits has more than doubled.3
In many ways, Los Angeles is a microcosm of the United States as its demographic character becomes increasingly complex. By any number of measures, Los Angeles is the most ethnically and religiously diverse city in the world. Virtually every religion is represented in the Los Angeles region. Many of these religions were transported by immigrants, but Los Angeles has also been a source of religious innovation, giving birth to global Pentecostalism in 1906, as well as religious movements that revive old religious forms and create hybrid expressions of traditional spiritual practice.
The official count of religious congregations in Los Angeles County numbers nearly 6,000, but this certainly does not include the hundreds, even thousands of “store front” churches, immigrant congregations, and groups that are not listed in the phone book or do not have official IRS registration. The diversity of the city’s religious ecology is apparent on church marquees that sometimes list services in four or five languages. In addition, many churches host multiple congregations under one roof. Still others meet in homes, social halls, schools, warehouses and other unexpected venues.
|Major Religious Groups (Congregations)||2009|
|Historically Black Protestant||243|
|Latter Day Saints (Mormon)||121|
|Total Number of Congregations||5,896|
3 This count of nonprofits includes all IRS registered “religion related” nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles County. IRS data files are available for analysis at the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics (http://nccs.urban.org/index.cfm).
|Los Angeles County||46%||44%|
|City of Los Angeles||42||40|
|New York City||52||52|
Source: The U.S. Census Bureau (http://factfinder.census.gov) Accessed 12/12/2010
Richard Flory is the executive director of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.
Brie Loskota is a contributing fellow and the former executive director (2016-2021) of the USC Center for Religion and Civil Culture.
Donald E. Miller is the director of strategic initiatives with the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.