Americans Change Faiths More Than Ever Before Study Says

The New York Times reported earlier this week that Americans are more transient in religion than ever before, as only 25 percent of adults still practice the same faith or denomination they did as children.

A study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that 44 percent of Protestant Christians have switched denominations, proving that loyalty to synods and large, organized bodies has significantly diminished.

The Roman Catholic Church has experienced the most net loss from faith fluctuation, the study concludes, but still maintains the largest bloc of American Christians. Their biggest draw has likely been an influx of Catholic immigrants to the United States, particularly from Latin America.

The fastest-growing group in the study was the “unaffiliated,” which stands at 16 percent. That number is up from the 5 to 8 percent reported by a different survey in the 1980s. These respondents indicated they are not involved in any church body, and they now comprise the fourth largest group in the nation.

Among Protestants, evangelicals maintain an edge over mainline denominations. Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at BostonUniversity told the Times, “The trend is toward more personal religion, and evangelicals offer that. Those losing out are offering impersonal religion and those winning are offering a smaller scale: megachurches succeed not because they are mega but because they have smaller ministries inside.”

Among other sects, Muslims and Mormons rival each other for having the largest families, while Hindus seem to represent the religion having the most education and per capita income.