Mormon Inquiry

Mormon Inquiry

Losing your religion

Lots of stories on the latest Pew Forum survey, “Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S.” Here is the first paragraph from the summary prepared by Pew:

Americans change religious affiliation early and often. In total, about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives. Most people who change their religion leave their childhood faith before age 24, and many of those who change religion do so more than once.

Here’s how the LA Times article begins its discussion of the survey results.


Americans are fickle consumers of religion, with about half changing religious affiliations at least once in their lives as they drift away from childhood traditions or stop believing in the teachings of their faiths, according to a national survey released Monday.

The article takes special interest in the atheist/agnostic group, noting that the “unaffiliated” find “religious people to be hypocritical, judgmental or insincere.” Then comes this rather startling paragraph:

Even so, many of the unaffiliated said they were open to the possibility of one day finding a religion that suited them; about one-third said they had yet to find the right one. And, paradoxically, most who were raised unaffiliated said they now belonged to a religious group, either because they had felt spiritually unfulfilled or found religious services attractive, the survey showed.


So it is wrong to conclude from the survey that people are drifting away from religion. It sounds like people are drifting in all directions, some from faith to unbelief, some from agnostic hedonism to faith, and many from one faith or denomination to another. Here are some other stories and posts on the survey:

Comments read comments(4)
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Todd Wood

posted April 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I would be interested in the statistics of where post-LDS end up.
For them, it is not as easy to just go from one faith to another.

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posted April 29, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Todd, based on some forums, one might think they end up angry and unhappy, but I don’t think that’s a fair sample. I suspect that post-LDS people go in many different directions. That seems to be the general flavor of the Pew essay for Americans as a whole.

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posted May 26, 2009 at 9:56 pm

The poll makes the mistake of clumping atheist/agnostics in with people who believe in God but are not part of any organized religion. Just because a person is unaffiliated does NOT mean they are atheist. It only means they were raised outside of organized religion. Every other poll done on athiesm shows it is extremely rare for an atheist to start believing in God at some point in their life.

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