Leaving the Faith of Your Youth

Posted: February 28, 2008 in Church, Culture, faith

A new study published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life was released a couple of days ago that interviewed 35,000 adults to document the American religious landscape.  Some very interesting findings:

  • 44% of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another faith, another Protestant tradition, or no affiliation whatsoever.
  • Mainline Protestant denominations are in decline, non-denominational churches are gaining and the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing.
  • Those who say they are not affiliated with any particular faith has more than doubled with the greatest demographic block being men and young adults (18-29 years of age).
  • Ironically, those who said they had no faith affiliation as a child, the majority NOW identify with a particular religious group. (interesting)
  • The U.S. is about to lose its status as a majority Protestant nation, at 51% and slipping.
  • The largest denominational loss is found in the Catholic Church.  The statistics don’t bear out as much because of immigration, but it is estimated that 10% of the American population would be considered ex-Catholic.  1/3rd of American Catholics have defected since their childhood.  [I wonder what that percentage would be in such a Catholic stronghold as South Bend, IN].
  • While most evangelical churches that are growing want to reach the “unchurched,” statistically, it looks like they are actually reaching the “dechurched” (individuals who were raised in a church and at some point in their life quit going.)
  • The Midwest, statistically, is the most acurate reflection of the US stats overall (interesting).
  • The largest growing Protestant churches are among the ranks of nondenominational (yea!) churches while Baptist and Methodists are showing net losses.

Do these statistics reflect your experience?

  1. alex says:

    Yes, they do. I was Catholic and when I was 15 I no longer wanted to be Catholic. I started going to a nondemoinational church when I was 15 by myself.

  2. Ann says:

    I see my family in those stats. My two brothers and myself have all left the Catholic church, my sister is struggling to find her place in the Catholic church, and my cousin is now a Baptist preacher, having left the Catholic church.

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