The United States is a nation of religious drifters, with about half of adults switching faith affiliation at least once during their lives, according to a new survey.
The reasons behind the swap depend greatly on whether one grows up kneeling at Roman Catholic Mass, praying in a Protestant pew or occupied with nonreligious pursuits, according to a report issued Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
While Catholics are more likely to leave the church because they stopped believing its teachings, many Protestants are driven to trade one Protestant denomination or affiliation for another because of changed life circumstances, the survey found.
The ranks of those unaffiliated with any religion, meanwhile, are growing not so much because of a lack of religious belief but because of disenchantment with religious leaders and institutions.
The report estimates that between 47 percent and 59 percent of U.S. adults have changed affiliation at least once. Most described just gradually drifting away from their childhood faith.
"This shows a sort of religion a la carte and how pervasive it is," said D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist of religion. "In some ways, it's an indictment of organized Christianity. It suggests there's a big open door for newcomers, but a wide back door where people are leaving."
The report, "Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S.," sought to answer questions about widespread religion-changing identified in a 2007 Pew survey of 35,000 Americans.
is useless for anything to odo with Jews, or converts to Judaism - an important element in the declared 'success' of Reform Judaism - for this reason, footnote #2:
2 The survey excludes respondents from the following religious traditions as defined in the 2007 Landscape Survey: "other Christian," "other world religions" and "other faiths." It also excludes "converts" within the ranks of the unaffiliated (e.g., those who were raised atheist and are now agnostic, or those who were raised agnostic and are now nothing in particular), as well as those who gave an ambiguous current or childhood religion in the original survey.