I think most people believe that Americans tend to stay with the religion they were raised in. I know that's what I thought, but it just isn't true.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just completed a study of religious affiliation in the United States. It was called the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, and it contained some surprising discoveries.
The most startling discovery is that nearly half (a full 44%) of adults in this country change their affliiation from the religion they grew up in to another religion, denomination, or no religious affiliation at all. It turns out that religious affiliation is as volatile in America as job or place of residence changes.
About 78% of Americans are Christians, with 51% being Protestants. But the established denominations, such as Baptists and Methodists, are losing adherents, while the non-denominational Protestant churches are growing.
The religion with the highest retention rate is the Hindu religion. It retains about 84% of those who are raised as Hindus. The religion with the lowest retention rate is the Jehovah's Witnesses, who retain only 37% of those raised in it.
But the demographic that benefits the most from this religious volatility is the "no religious affiliation" catagory. By a 3 to 1 ratio, the people moving into this catagory outnumber the people moving out of it.
I'm not sure what to make of this, but I found it interesting. Maybe it's just the nature of religion in a free society.