On a scale of 1 to 10, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America is at a 9.1 when it comes to racial diversity and that number makes it the most diverse religious group in the United States, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.
In the new analysis looking at 29 religious groups including mainline Protestant denominations and others, the Pew Research Center measured the distribution of Hispanics, non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Asians as well as mixed-race Americans and concluded that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the most diverse of all.
A breakdown of the racial fabric of the church shows that among its adherents in the U.S., 37 percent are white, 32 percent are black, 8 percent are Asian, 8 percent are mixed race, while 15 percent identify as Hispanic.
The church is so diverse, it had a higher diversity index than the U.S. itself.
In explaining how the index was calculated, the Pew Research Center noted that: "If a religious group had exactly equal shares of each of the five racial and ethnic groups (20 percent each), it would get a 10.0 on the index; a religious group made up entirely of one racial group would get a 0.0."
On that scale, U.S. adults overall rate just 6.6.
Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhists, and a group identified as "Nothing in particular" rounded out the top five diverse religious groups in the U.S., respectively. Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics are the only other Christian groups with a higher racial diversity index than the general U.S. adult population.
Reacting to the study in an Adventist News Network report last Thursday, Gary Krause, director of the Office of Adventist Mission for the Adventist world church, said diversity was a huge component in the church's mission of preparing all people for Jesus' Second Coming.
"We're not an American church. We're not an African or Asian church. We're not a European church," said Krause. "We're a worldwide movement with a mission to all people groups."
He said even though the Adventist Church is operational in 215 countries and territories around the world, he still isn't satisfied with their work.
"We're not happy about it because the United Nations lists 22 more where we don't have established work," he said. "We're all God's children, and we love to welcome people from all races into our family."
Some 83 percent of the 318.9 million people in the U.S. identify as Christian and, according to Daniel Weber, communication director for the Adventist Church's North American Division, 1.2 million of them are Adventists. He also noted that globally the Adventist Church is 18.5 million people strong.
"As our church has grown overseas and is represented in almost every culture, race and language group, this same diversity has also changed in North America because our experiences with different cultures overseas has allowed us to be more effective in reaching the diverse growing populations here," said Weber. "The Gospel Commission calls for us to reach all people of all cultures."