4/30/2009

Losing My Religion

An article details a report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, www.pewforum.org, that estimated that 44 percent of U.S. adults had left their childhood religious affiliation. An interesting quote from the article: "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 new survey revealed that one in six Americans who belong to their childhood faith are "reverts" -- people who left the faith, only to return later. Roughly two-thirds of those raised Catholic or Protestant who now claim no religious affiliation say they have changed faiths at least twice. Thirty-two percent of unaffiliated ex-Protestants said they've changed three times or more. Age is another factor. Most people who left their childhood faith did so before turning 24, and a majority joined their current religion before 36. The ranks of those unaffiliated with any religion are growing not so much because of a lack of religious belief but because of disenchantment with religious leaders and institutions. I was raised a Mormon-Jew. You read that right, it's not a typo. I left the Mormon religion when I was 20 after I wasn't allowed to serve God on a mission to teach the Mormon gospel. I drifted for a while, trying other affiliations to no avail. (If you want a good laugh, go to a Pentecostal church. Watch the white people become overwhelmed with the spirit. It's hilarious. Or you could rock out with the church band.) I became disenchanted with organized religion. The wife grew up Catholic and drifted away in adulthood. Now that Shock Jr. is on the way, I want to help develop my children spiritually, so we've found an Episcopal Church that we have been attending the last few months. Episcopal is "Catholic light" so it's not to far removed from what the wife grew up with. For me, it's tolerable but I'm still disenchanted.