Survey: Americans switching faiths, dropping out

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    Feb 26, 2008 4:13 AM GMT
    The U.S. religious marketplace is extremely volatile, with nearly half of American adults leaving the faith tradition of their upbringing to either switch allegiances or abandon religious affiliation altogether, a new survey finds.
    ......
    While much of the study confirms earlier findings -- mainline Protestant churches are in decline, non-denominational churches are gaining and the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing -- it also provides a deeper look behind those trends, and of smaller religious groups.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/02/25/religion.survey.ap/index.html

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    Feb 26, 2008 5:08 AM GMT
    Thanks for this !!! its really interesting !!!! I read the article, and I wonder if the last eight years of politics hiding behind a "curtain" of religion is partly to blame. Or do you think it is completely seperate?
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    Feb 26, 2008 1:10 PM GMT
    The End of the World is nigh! icon_eek.gif
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    Feb 26, 2008 5:44 PM GMT
    Very interesting Caslon, thanks.

    I have to believe that this is at least partly due to the huge number of scandals over the years surrounding religious institutions and zealots. I think people are beginning to understand that while faith can be a good thing, blind faith is definitely not.

    While I do not prescribe to any religion, I'm not one who thinks it necessary to totally do away with it. I would be happy to just see it reformed to be the truly positive force it could be. I don't think religion is bad, I think it's the people who use it to justify bad things that need to be done away with.
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    Feb 26, 2008 6:11 PM GMT
    Wait... religion is in the marketplace, like for sale? Thankfully, I'm a spiritualist and don't tithe to churches, when the money goes straight to the none profit charities that do the same work... anyways... it was bound to happen. Our society needs to evolve out of the primitive dogmas and doctrines from years ago, and embrace an open minded perspective on religion and spirituality.

    Maybe this will be era when gay becomes okay.

    I've read and explored many religions and have finished my phase of switching faiths. Now, I'm more centered in my own brand of spirituality. Since I believe that the spiritual aspect of any religious system is unique to the person who practices it; I don't feel the need to force my beliefs, or to prove them more right than any others. It's a healthy thing to know where you stand in the religious and/or spiritual world, if you choose it at all.

    It makes me happy that so many Americans are trying new things. At least it shows there's a measure of social progress towards something better starting from within.
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    Feb 26, 2008 6:12 PM GMT
    I read this earlier today... it's funny at this time in my life because i am currently exploring my Catholic roots, attending Mass regularly, reading about the Saints and Mystics, etc.
  • jarhead5536

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    Feb 26, 2008 7:45 PM GMT
    I was dissapointed to read this news, because my own denomination, the Episcopalians, is losing the most members. Odd that the group that has the most modern, rational, intellectual and mythology free approach to Christianity is in decline, while the loony batshit scary fundies are growing.

    People really are afraid to think on their own I guess. Tell me what to do, who to hate, and that everything will be okay in the end, and I'm fine...
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    Feb 26, 2008 8:03 PM GMT
    jarhead5536 saidI was dissapointed to read this news, because my own denomination, the Episcopalians, is losing the most members. Odd that the group that has the most modern, rational, intellectual and mythology free approach to Christianity is in decline, while the loony batshit scary fundies are growing.

    People really are afraid to think on their own I guess. Tell me what to do, who to hate, and that everything will be okay in the end, and I'm fine...


    No offense intended to those of faith, but if I belonged to a religion which worshiped the finger bones of saints, believed in demons, and had a complex mythology it would be quite a leap to drop faith altogether.

    But if I belonged to a faith that like Episcopalianism it isn't that much of a step to go to secular humanism or outright atheism.
  • HndsmKansan

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    Feb 26, 2008 8:17 PM GMT
    MunchingZombie said[quote][cite]

    No offense intended to those of faith, but if I belonged to a religion which worshiped the finger bones of saints, believed in demons, and had a complex mythology it would be quite a leap to drop faith altogether.

    But if I belonged to a faith that like Episcopalianism it isn't that much of a step to go to secular humanism or outright atheism.




    Like Jarhead, I am an Episcopalian, grew up from birth in the church where today we have meetings of "Integrity", a GLBT Episcopal organization in which I am a Board member.

    Jarhead is correct, the Episcopalians are losing some membership as are many denominations. The Episcopals are certainly more flexible in their thinking with
    the election of Gene Robinson and so many women as priests. I'm doing some of my own exploration as to which Episcopal church I like and in which I am comfortable.

    Regarding Zombie's comments above, he is entitled to his opinion as we all are... I just assume with his criticism of Episcopals (being construed as liberal in most religious circles), he probably views some like
    Mormanism more cynically.
  • jarhead5536

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    Feb 26, 2008 8:20 PM GMT
    I wish I had grown up Episcopalian. As is referenced in the article, I no longer worship in the faith of may childhood, which was Southern Baptist. No wonder I'm so fucked up...
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    Feb 26, 2008 10:03 PM GMT
    jarhead5536 saidI was dissapointed to read this news, because my own denomination, the Episcopalians, is losing the most members. Odd that the group that has the most modern, rational, intellectual and mythology free approach to Christianity is in decline, while the loony batshit scary fundies are growing.

    People really are afraid to think on their own I guess. Tell me what to do, who to hate, and that everything will be okay in the end, and I'm fine...


    That's precisely why those denominations are growing Jarhead - when people are scared, they'll grab at whatever promises some kind of certainty.

    As for our dear Episcopal church, I think that while the 'official' numbers are declining, this does not mean the numbers themselves are declining. Having been on the vestry of my church when we lived in DC, one of the things I learned is that many people may attend, participate, and even give money but do not officially join. The Episcopal Church is often times a 'refuge' church for Catholics and other more dogmatic faiths.
  • ang2serra

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    Feb 26, 2008 10:29 PM GMT
    I am so thrilled of the 25% "No religious affiliation" answers in the 19 to 24 categories. Maybe, just maybe, reason and compassion will become more prevalent than the blind faith evidenced in the other half of the population. Can't wait until the separation of Church and State is a reality and not just a mouthed platitude.
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    Feb 26, 2008 10:30 PM GMT
    I've always found the doctrinal disputes between various forms of Christianity sort of puzzling, on the one hand, and arcane on the other. Wby are some Presbyterians and others Methodists? What really defines the difference between an Episcopalian and a United Church of Christ-er?

    It's not surprising that people switch denominations within Christianity, but you don't see any mass movement towards Judaism or Islam from Christians, or vice versa, either. So it really doesn't seem all that newsworthy to me.

    Oh, I guess the movement from mainline (reasonably rational) Christians to raving shrieking fundamentalist loonybin Christians would be worthy of note, but that doesn't seem to be happening much anymore either. The truth is, there seems to be a finite limit on the number of people who are attracted to zombie-like forms of worship, and that number is almost certainly receding already.
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    Feb 26, 2008 10:47 PM GMT
    I think that these numbers miss stuff, too. I think that the fundie churches are having a net gain, but they have MAJOR retention problem. At the church I grew up in there is a giant turn-over. People come to the church looking for magic and whatnot and leave when something bad happens in their family. It all has to do with the insane teachings that God will make everything nice and happy.

    I noticed that people are becoming episcopalian, but not "joining" the church, which is what I did. So those numbers are probably not as accurate as they seem.

    jprichva-doctrine differences, or even tiny things like carpet color can cause a splinter church. I know the Nazarene Church split from the methodists because a pastor was told to shut down his homeless shelter. There are other bigger reasons, but of course when it comes to God, no one wants to give up their "absolute knowledge." It's sad.
  • jarhead5536

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    Feb 26, 2008 11:30 PM GMT
    My take on declining memberships (none of you really thought I could keep my mouth shut about this did you?):

    The older and more "high church" a particular denomination is, the less evangelism it engages in. we are talking about rather class conscious white people that wouldn't dream of actually talking about their faith in public, but they are deeply spirtual and can be moved to tears during the liturgy. They don't go around talking about being saved by Jesus and smiting Satan all the time, nor do they routinely beg people to come to church with them.

    Mainline Protestants, particularly Episcopalians, English Lutherans and American (NOT Southern) Baptists tend to practice a very strict, almost "High Mass" form of worship in which there is very little deviation from the "script" as it were. There is an organ and small choir, lots of hymns, chanting and beautiful classical music. The experience is profoundly spiritual and approaches the otherworldly.

    Evangelicals/megachurches, on the other hand, practice their faith in a very earthy, raucous, and definitively human. There is a rock band, huge choir, no organ, no hymns, and any number of worship leaders. People go to church and have FUN! in the place of any sort of true personal epiphany. Inviting someone to come have FUN! and listen to music in the atmosphere of a rock concert/comedy show seems to be easier than the alternative. In case you hadn't figured it out, I feel that this form of "worship" is um, inadequate to the task at hand (particularly when the talk inevitably turns to "hommaseckshuals and abortionists"). At its' core, the congregant is not asked to perform any acts of self-examination, contemplation of the nature of God or reflection on the human condition.

    These things are hard. Attending a rock concert with a few speeches is easy.
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    Feb 27, 2008 6:27 AM GMT
    After carefully exploring and studying a number of religions when I was at Stanford, I found and embraced the Episcopal church - a clear choice for many intelligent, modern gay men seeking love and acceptance in Christianity. Here is an example -

    The Apostles' Creed:
    I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth;
    And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;
    who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried.
    He descended into hell.
    The third day he rose again from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Ghost,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting.

    Why is the Church descirbed as catholic? Because it proclaims the whole Faith to all people, to the end of time. The creeds are statements of our basic beliefs about God. We Episcopalians believe in everlasting life - and by that we mean a new existence, in which we are united with all the people of God, in the joy of fully knowing and loving God and each other.

    Peace and love.
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    Feb 27, 2008 10:32 AM GMT
    According to the article found at: http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/02/25/religion.survey.ap/index.htmlThe self-identified Buddhists -- 0.7 percent of those surveyed -- illustrate a core challenge to estimating religious affiliation: What does affiliation mean?

    It's unclear whether people who called themselves Buddhists did so because they practice yoga or meditation, for instance, or claim affiliation with a Buddhist institution.

    The report does not project membership figures for religious groups, in part because the survey is not as authoritative as a census and didn't count children, Lugo said. The U.S. Census does not ask questions on religion.


    Well... um thats enough for me to not pay attention to this article. Another form of hyping up small statistics.

    When this "research" project is done with an accuracy to that of the US Census or at least meets quality scientific/academic research standards, then I'll pay attention.

    Like someone said before, just because they are not on the books doesn't mean they don't. Some people are in the books in one place, and go to another.
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    Feb 28, 2008 2:48 AM GMT
    I expect that if I were Christian, I would probably be an Episcopalian. I judge that mostly by the caliber of the people I know who embrace that church. Like jarhead, they seem not to evangelize, and treat the responsibility of self-examination seriously, as well as the commitment to social betterment.

    Judaism at its best displays the same traits; at its worst, it is hardly different than fundamentalism.
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    Feb 28, 2008 3:15 AM GMT
    I think the Jews have the best holidays. It's too bad the barriers to entry are so high.
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    Feb 28, 2008 9:41 PM GMT
    I find it as no surprise that this is occuring. Education is the enemy of the "church". Look at how Gallieo tipped the church on it's ear. This has been ongoing and will not end.
    The hypocrits in the pews have done nothing for the church either. I can remember down here in Dixie, where a black man in church was one hell of an event. happily that has began to change, albiet slowly.
    Now gays are the habringers of doom for the white westen world.
    My ancestors were killed by christian missionaries giving us small-pox laden blankets and clothes. So for the church to fall bothers me not abit. The sooner the better.
    But there are those few, who try to live in faith. So to them I tip my hat.