The new survey had shown that religion in the United States is getting tense as almost half of those living in the United States have left the faiths they were brought up in. They have either changed religious faiths or just turned their backs on religion altogether, according to the survey.
The study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life had interviewed over 35,000 people. The study has strengthened earlier findings that the mainstream Protestant churches have been declining in membership. As a result, the smaller religious groups have gained more members.
“The American religious economy is like a marketplace – very dynamic, very competitive,” according to Luis Lugo, who is the director of the Pew Forum. He adds: “Everyone is losing, everyone is gaining. There are net winners and losers, but no one can stand still. Those groups that are losing significant numbers have to recoup them to stay vibrant.”
Over one-fourth of adults in the United States have left the faiths they were brought up as during childhood. They have either converted to another faith or have converted to atheism.
“In the past, certain religions had a real holding power, where people from one generation to the next would stay,” said Roger Finke, a sociologist from Penn State University. He was one of the consultants in regards to the survey. He added: “Right now, there is a dropping confidence in organized religion, especially in the traditional religious forms.”
The survey revealed that the Roman Catholic Church has taken a hard hit in membership due to those converting faiths. The faith is still stable in Central and South America. Almost all of the Catholics that are under 30 are Latino according to a survey.
In an interesting turn, over half of the Buddhists in the survey were white. As a Buddhist and a second-generation Vietnamese-American, I found that to be interesting. But, it does make sense as I have seen more whites convert to Buddhism. There have been celebrities that had converted to Buddhism. Gwen Stefani converted to Buddhism, Jim Carrey converted to Buddhism, and Richard Gear converted to Buddhism.
Most of the Buddhists in the United States were converts. It might be understandable on a side note as the Buddhist lifestyle does connect with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. More people have called themselves as Buddhist than Muslim.
Hinduism retained most of its membership. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses is rapidly growing but in an ironic note, it has the worst retention rate.
However, the study does not show the membership for the religious congregations. Also, the study does not ask questions on religious faiths.