Study Explores Reasons People Change Faiths

April 27, 2009

Author: Meredith Heagney

Source: The Columbus Dispatch

A new report released today explores how and why Americans move from one faith to another, from religion to no religion, and sometimes, back again.

Most people raised without a religious affiliation now belong to a religion, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Eighty percent of people who grew up Protestant stayed Protestant, but more than a quarter of them switched denominations.

In Catholicism, 68 percent of people raised in the faith have stayed put. Most former Catholics say they gradually drifted away from the faith. A majority of Catholics who became unaffiliated with any religion were unhappy with church teachings on abortion and homosexuality.

The Pew Forum already had reported that about half of Americans have changed their faith at some point in their lives, based on a survey of 35,000 adults.

Its new report, "Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S.," is an attempt to dig deeper into the transitory nature of American religion and is based on phone interviews with 2,800 people.