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The Protestant Church is an umbrella term that refers to Christian churches that have accepted the beliefs and practices preached by such 16th century reformers as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli, who ushered in a large schism in the Catholic Church, resulting from the Protestant Reformation. Members of a Protestant Church are called Protestants.

The variety of Protestant churches is vast, covering a wide range of beliefs. Protestant denominations that began in the early days of the Reformation (Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Reformed), as well as those who began in Europe and America during the 17th and 18th centuries (Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists), are found throughout the world today. Although the Pentecostals and independent Protestant churches are the product of the 19th and 20th centuries, they make up a significant portion of Protestants. Even in Europe, where traditional churches hold considerable influence, some of the most active congregations are Pentecostal. The American megachurch phenomenon appeals to contemporary consumer culture, with little emphasis on tradition. Although a few of the megachurches are Lutheran, Presbyterian or Methodist or Baptist, the majority of them are Pentecostal, non-denominational or independent, often based around the ministry of a charismatic senior pastor.

Historically, Protestantism is an all-inclusive term for religious movements that originated directly or indirectly from the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. Some religious scholars, including some Anabaptists, consider the Anabaptist movement to be part of the Protestant Reformation, while others consider the Anabaptists (Mennonites, Hutterites, Amish) to be part of a separate movement known as the Radical Reformation, which took place at roughly the same time and for the same reasons.

For the purposes of categorization here, we are considering Anabaptist, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant to be separate divisions of the larger Christian Church.

While there are sharp differences between the various Protestant church bodies, Protestantism tends to share a common message, a characteristic standard of authority, and similar forms of organization and activity. The message is that salvation is a gift from God that brings reconciliation between Christians and God. The authority is the Bible. The Protestant form of organization tends to be local and participatory, while activities feature individual responsibilities rather than a dependence upon clergy. Protestants tend to believe that the message of salvation was taught authoritatively in the Christian Bible, which had been obscured through the corruptions of Roman Catholicism.

In 1910, 58% of Protestants were in Europe, 31% in the United States and Canada, and 11% in the rest of the world. One hundred years later, only 12% of Protestants were in Europe and 15% in the United States and Canada, while 73% were in other parts of the world. By 2010, Protestantism had become a largely non-Western religion.

Since the middle of the 20th century, Protestantism has become more global, diverse, multiform, and complex than ever before, largely because of the different ways in which the various denominations and congregations have mingled practices and beliefs rooted in Protestant tradition with innovative responses to contemporary circumstances. Other influences have included the de-Christianization of Europe, the United States and Canada during this time period. While church attendance has declined everywhere in the West, Protestantism has experienced the greatest drop-offs, particularly within traditional Protestant churches.

The composition of American Protestantism has changed significantly over the past fifty years. The once dominant mainstream churches (Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Congregational) have given way to a variety of evangelical, fundamentalist, Pentecostal, sectarian, Holiness, independent, and immigrant churches, many of which claim no denominational status.





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