April 29, 2009

Americans in flux over faith choice

by David Masters

America is a nation in flux when it comes to religious affiliation, according to the results of a new survey.

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life found that Americans are changing their religious affiliation at an unprecedented rate.

“We live in a competitive religious marketplace,” said John Green, one of the study’s authors.

The ‘Faith in Flux’ report reveals that around half of US adults have changed their faith affiliation at some point during their life.

The majority of those who moved religion changed from the denomination they were brought up in by the age of 24.

Furthermore, those who changed religion were likely to have done so more than once.

The largest growth group was unaffiliated – people who do not feel a religious connection to any particular denomination.

Catholics were found to be more likely than Protestants to cite concerns about their religion for changing affiliation; Protestants more frequently cited changing life circumstances – such as marriage, or moving house.

More than two thirds of former Catholics and Protestants said they had ‘gradually drifted away’ from their faith.

Green said: “Because American religion is so diverse, it should not surprise us that reasons people move from one religion to another would also be diverse.”

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