Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Religion in American Life

The Pew Forum has released an interesting study on the American religious lifestyle. In particular, the study focuses on why Americans change religious affiliation.

The group that has grown the most in recent years due to religious change is the unaffiliated population. Two-thirds of former Catholics who have become unaffiliated and half of former Protestants who have become unaffiliated say they left their childhood faith because they stopped believing in its teachings, and roughly four-in-ten say they became unaffiliated because they do not believe in God or the teachings of most religions. Additionally, many people who left a religion to become unaffiliated say they did so in part because they think of religious people as hypocritical or judgmental, because religious organizations focus too much on rules or because religious leaders are too focused on power and money. Far fewer say they became unaffiliated because they believe that modern science proves that religion is just superstition...

I think that ticked off Anglicans in the US who are about to form a schismatic quasi-church would do well to digest the information in this report. In light of recent comments from the Rt. Rev'd. Bob Duncan, deposed bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh concerning his being a cradle Anglican and the Most Rev'd. Katharine Jefferts Schori being a convert, this study seems very relevant. Listening to Duncan, you can't help but wonder if a lot of this is coming from the breakdown of the good-old-boy structures of leadership in the Episcopal Church.

“I’m a cradle Anglican. My grandfather was a boy chorister. . . My theological views haven’t changed. The problem is that folks who have become the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the United States have pulled the rug out from under me. The person who is our Presiding Bishop, she didn’t begin as an Anglican. I did. She represents something very different. I don’t think I’m a breakaway....

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