Pew: Nearly Half of Us Change Our Religion

I'm thinking to myself, "What is he talking about?" A few years ago, my building contractor was telling me that he became a Christian. To me he was always a Christian. But he meant something else -- that he was no longer a Catholic. He had joined a Protestant fundamentalist church.

It seems Americans are changing their religions like they change brands of toothpaste or soft drinks. Interesting stuff.
More Americans changing religious denominations, study finds
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff

A sweeping new study of religious affiliation in the United States finds a country in which Protestants are becoming a minority, Catholicism is becoming heavily Hispanic, and the number of people who say they are not affiliated with any religion is growing.

The study, which is the most comprehensive such examination in at least a half century, finds the United States to be in a period of unprecedented religious fluidity, in which 44 percent of American adults have left the denomination of their childhood for another denomination, another faith, or no faith at all.

"Americans are not only changing jobs, changing locations, changing spouses, but they're also changing religions on a regular basis,'' said Luis E. Lugo, the director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which conducted the study. "We have nearly half the American public telling us they're something different today than they were as a child, and that's a staggering number. It's such a dynamic religious marketplace, and very competitive.''

The study is based on a survey of 35,000 Americans, a very large number for survey research, and the size of the pool allowed the researchers to get more detail about minority religious groups than is usually available from smaller studies.

The nation is still predominantly -- 78 percent -- Christian, but 5 percent are now adherents of other faiths and 16 percent are unaffiliated.

The full report is available at pewforum.org.

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