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Published: Saturday, 2/23/2002

Mormons among 5 largest U.S. religions

BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

NEW YORK - The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches has ranked the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints among the nation's five largest religious bodies for the first time.

The ranking may be debated, however, because the yearbook does not take into account the nation's largest black denomination, the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., which did not report its membership. The listing also omits Judaism and Islam, sizable faiths in America that don't provide membership figures for synagogues and mosques.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the Mormon church, reported 5,208,827 U.S. members, moving past the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (5,125,919 members) in the new yearbook.

Roman Catholicism remains the largest body, with more than 63 million members in the United States, followed by the Southern Baptist Convention (15,960,308), United Methodist Church (8,340,954), and Church of God in Christ (5,499,875).

Muslims will celebrate the Eid ul-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, one of Islam's two major festivals, today at the end of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Some communities observed the holiday yesterday.

The festival recalls Abraham's willingness to do as God instructed and sacrifice his son, Ishmael, who was born from his union with the Egyptian servant, Hagar. Jews and Christians believe that the story of the sacrifice involved Isaac, son of Abraham and his wife, Sarah.

Eid ul-Adha is marked by communal prayers, gifts to children, distribution of food to the needy, and social gatherings.

Muslims greet one another with the phrase, “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “blessed Eid.”



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