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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why Americans Change Religions

About half of Americans today have switched their religious affiliation at least once, according to new survey findings from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. In fact, many Americans change religions more than once.
The survey was a follow-up to a major study of the U.S. religious landscape released last year, which found that 44 percent of Americans have switched or left religion. The new report raises that number to between 47 percent and 59 percent. The survey also found that the majority of those who switch faiths leave their childhood denomination by age 24, but by 36, most people have committed to one faith. But why, the researchers wondered, do people change denominations or give up religion altogether?
It turns out people switch faiths for all sort of reasons. According to the new findings, more than half of the Catholics and Protestants who switched faiths said they did so because their spiritual needs were not being met or they found another faith they liked more. Catholics are more likely to leave the religion because they stop believing in its teachings, while many Protestants switch religions because their life circumstances change (they move to a new community or marry someone with a different background).
Many of those who left a religion and are now "unaffiliated" said they left their faith in part because they see religious people as hypocritical or judgmental, because religious organizations focus too much on rules, or because religious leaders focus too much on power and money.
What's particularly interesting is that much fewer say they left religion because they think modern science proves religion is just superstition. —Heather Wax

2 comments:

Tom Rees said...

"What's particularly interesting is that much fewer say they left religion because they think modern science proves religion is just superstition"

Yes but many will have left organized religion because the moral prescriptions are either fixed and unchanging (and therefore frequently in conflict with evidence-based and scientific reasoning, e.g. catholics on abortion) or flexible and open to interpretation (in which case you may as well find your own path).

Becky said...

I don't think that I will ever leave my religion, but I have to say that after reading M.A. Curtis' latest book, "Dominance & Delusion" I will definitely think of religion in a unique way.