Grass Is Greener on the. . . ?

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IF THERE’S ONE WORD linked with the 2008 presidential campaign, it’s likely to be change. But it’s not just in politics that, as Bob Dylan once sang: “The Times, They Are a-Changin’.”

A newly released report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life underscores the great degree of change taking place in Christian churches across the United States. Among its findings:

  • 44 percent of American adults have changed religious affiliation since childhood. That includes those raised outside a religious tradition who later joined a particular faith, and the 28 percent of people who either left their childhood faith and now don’t belong to any religious group—or who have switched from one denomination to another.
  • 16 percent of Americans don’t identify with any religion, including 24 percent of those ages 18–29. This percentage is nonetheless far lower than in other industrialized countries, experts say, meaning that the United States remains by comparison a strongly religious country.
  • 24 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, a percentage that hasn’t changed in recent decades. Almost one-third of those reared as Catholics have left the faith, but immigration—especially from Latin America—has kept the denomination’s numbers steady.
  • 37 percent of married people are married outside their faith.

For a more complete breakdown of the report, check Pastor Bill Cork’s detailed summary over at Oak Leaves.

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