When You've Lost 10% . . . Print
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 25 February 2008 15:50
10% of all Americans are EX-Catholics.

Did that get your attention? Where did I get this? Is it true? What does it mean?

Via Time:

"The report, released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, is the first selection of data from a 35,000- person poll called the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Says Pew Forum director Luis Lugo, Americans "not only change jobs, change where they live, and change spouses, but they change religions too. We totally knew it was happening, but this survey enabled us to document it clearly."

According to Pew, 28% of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another one. And that does not even include those who switched from one Protestant denomination to another; if it did, the number would jump to 44%. Says Greg Smith, one of the main researchers for the "Landscape" data, churn applies across the board. "There's no group that is simply winning or simply losing," he says. "Nothing is static. Every group is simultaneously winning and losing."

The percentage of the American population that is Catholic has remained fairly constant but that stability hides a lot of change:

"The Pew report shows that of all those raised Catholic, a third have left the church. (That means that roughly one out of every 10 people in America is a former Catholic, and that ex-Catholics are almost as numerous as the America's second biggest religious group, Southern Baptists.) But Catholicism has made up for the losses by adding converts (2.6% of the population) and, more significantly, enjoying an influx of new immigrants, mostly Hispanic."

Of those Catholics who leave, almost half joined Protestant groups. About half of ex-Catholics have no affiliation with organized religion, the Pew survey found, while a small percentage chose other faiths.

No wonder practically every cradle Catholic in American has a long list of family and friends who no longer practice. (I've been keeping count of those cradle Catholics I met who have never left the Church and all of whose siblings never left. After asking thousands of people about this, I think I have found 20.)

For more on this see my post: The 8:1 ratio.

Other fascinating results:

1) There have been many complaints about the "feminization" of Catholicism in recent years about St. Blog's and often the Orthodox are held up as a more masculine alternative:

According the the Pew poll - ALL forms of Christianity in the US are majority female.

Both the Catholic, Orthodox, and mainline Protestant communities are 54% female, Evangelical Protestants are 53% female, and Mormons (stunningly) are 56% women. Traditional black churches top out at 60% female.

If you want a majority male religion in the US, you need to look at Judaism (48% women), Buddhism (47%) Islam (46%) and Hinduism - the ultimate testosterone zone at 39% female membership.

2) Catholicism is dramatically less "white" that any other form of US Christianity at 65% Anglo.
Evangelicalism is 81% white, mainline Protestantism is 91% white (!!!!), and the Orthodox are 87% white.

3) Overall percentages:

Evangelical Protestants are the largest single group in the country at 26.3%
Catholics are second at 23.9%
Mainline Protestants are third at 18%
Historically black churches at 6.9%

Nearly 50% of Americans have left the faith tradition of their childhood. No wonder stories of conversion from X to Y are so common in our culture.

Because in the US, the classic Catholic working assumption that "inculturating" a child into the faith of its parents will ensure that it will follow that faith in adulthood is clearly not taking into account an enormously powerful cultural tide.

Notice that 2.6% of US Catholics are converts - an amazing figure compared to the rest of the world. To hold our own, we must evangelize.

Because in the US, God has no grandchildren.