Evidence of the vast changes that mark the American landscape come with a new report, The American Mosque 2011. The report was produced by a coalition of research centers and organizations under the direction of Ihsan Bagby of the University of Kentucky. The big finding is the explosive growth in the number of mosques in recent years. The report indicates that there were 2,106 mosques in America in 2011, up from 1,209 in the year 2000.
Other major findings:
- Most mosques are in urban areas, but some are in suburban settings.
- Over 75% of all American mosques were established since 1980.
- Islam in America is ethnically diverse, including large numbers of South Asians, Arabs, and Africans, as well as African-Americans.
- The largest number of mosques are found in California, New York, and Texas, but other states have surprising numbers — such as Alabama (31), Kentucky (27), and Mississippi (16).
Given the higher Muslim birthrate and continuing patterns of immigration, it is likely that the number of Muslims in America will continue to rise, along with the numbers of mosques.
All this represents a great challenge to American Christians, charged to love our neighbors and to share the Gospel with them. The indisputable fact is this: The appearance of so many mosques on the American landscape is a graphic reminder that our Great Commission calling has never been more challenging, or so urgent.
I hosted a panel discussion of this report at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. The discussion, “Christian Ministry in the Shadow of the Mosque,” featured Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration; Dr. Zane Pratt, dean of the Billy Graham School of Mission and Evangelism; Dr. David Sills, professor of Christian missions; and Daniel Montgomery, senior pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville. The event was sponsored by Southern Seminary’s Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam.