We're a nation on the move, and that mobility is reflected in Americans' spiritual journeys. Responses to the Newsweek/Beliefnet poll reveal that one quarter of Americans have traveled away from their childhood faith. When asked to compare their current faith lives to that of their childhood, 68 percent said it was the same or mostly the same, while 24 percent said they'd changed faiths mostly or completely or become an atheist or agnostic.

In addition, many American families have experienced religious diversity up close. In all, 42 percent of Americans either have a different approach to faith from that of their childhood, have a sibling who shifted approaches, or married someone of a different faith. This sampling from Beliefnet's discussion boards offers vivid testimony to Americans' religious dynamism.

'I Have Come Back to the Church'
I am a Roman Catholic who became an Episcopalian, but just recently I have come back home to the Catholic Church. In the Episcopal church I attended, there were many former Catholics who had joined, but it was funny because during my time at the church, it was amazing to see how many of them went back home to the Catholic church over time. I often thought to myself how people could do that, but now I have done the same thing.

One of my issues with the Episcopal church was its flip-flopping views...It seems like everyone (including the priests and officials) had different views on different issues, such as abortion, the transubstantiation, homosexuality, and other moral and theological topics. The thing with the Catholic Church is everything IS uniform all throughout. That is something that brought me great comfort being Catholic.

One of the things that led me back home was the death of John Paul II. I watched the coverage of the Pope's death and I saw the millions and millions of people who came to mourn such a great person who cared for so much (and brought so much change) to the Catholic Church...and it just made me cry - it made me long for the things that Catholicism had that NO other religion could offer. And it brought me home.


'A White Light Engulfed Me'
I wanted to share how I came to know God as I understand 'it' to be and become a born again Christian. I was 16, and come from a broken home. There was quite a lot of abuse in many different manifestations, and so as I attended school, I met a friend, who introduced me to her church. I started to question many things about God, Jesus, Mary, and the angels. Eventually, at Easter in 1973, I kneeled down by my bed, looked out the window of my bedroom and asked, "God, are you really there?"

Then in a moment, I saw with my eyes wide opened, a white light engulfed me. I didn't feel like I was kneeling. I wasn't in my room, and I wasn't scared as to what was happening to me. It was very peaceful. I believe that this was the 'sign' that was given to let me know absolutely that I was heard and that I was in the divine folds of the elect.Since that time, I've been subject to experiencing many of the spiritual gifts, including discernment, wisdom, knowledge, prophesy, speaking in tongues, reading men's hearts, persecution, teaching, healing, and miracles. I do not know why these things are happening, but I'm only taking it a day at a time and making a journal of all these kinds of manifestations, keeping in mind where the Source of them are coming from.


'I Was Still Incomplete'
My first steps on the spiritual path were when I was 12. Qe had the Gideon Society come to our school and give us all a pocket New Testament. Whereas most kids of that age took it home and put it in a draw or cupboard, I kept mine out and read a piece each night. this went on for some five or six years or should I say until life's many vices came and took me away, but funnily enough I felt different to everyone. I was and still am a very popular person, but I was still incomplete.

I got married, had a couple of wonderful kids, got divorced, and then I found Paganism. This gave me something I was missing; it connected me with nature and I became relaxed, as it had filled part of what was missing. But then there was still a gap, and from Pagan I became Wiccan, as this answered more of my questions.

I read books and opened my mind, but then my path changed again, as a friend of mine lent me a book on shamanism. It was from a North American Indian tribe, and it had some great stories and some of these stories answered more of my questions.

I know between Pagan, Wiccan, and shaman, there is not a big step, but my latest change is working with angels after a near-death experience and my learning curve has just expanded yet again. Where I go to next I do not know but I'm sure my journey will carry on even though it is down an unseen road. Blessed be and don't stop believing.

'Your Spiritual Growth Has Only One Place it Can Lead'
I was raised a Catholic (which did nothing for my spiritual growth!), then abandoned all relation to spirit during my 20's. Then found a similar belief system with Native Americans--the Great Spirit. Got into New Age with crystals, vortexes, etc. Read and listened to many self-help books and books on tape, and kind of stumbled into Religious Science.

Please do not let the name fool you. It is not Scientology or Christian Science (although they share a common ancestry). Even the word religious can give people a false impression. But, I swear, your spiritual growth has only one place it can lead you and that is to Religious Science. If the ultimate pinnacle of spiritual enlightenment is the "Christ" Consciousness, then Religious Science is the teaching to get you there.

It is based on the book "Science of Mind" by Ernest Holmes. And it teaches that you are Spirit individualized, your consciousness and Cosmic Consciousness are one. There is no duality (good and evil), there is no judgment, there is not dogma. There are principles of life and law that you can choose to believe or not. It is also a practical spirituality (which actually helped draw me toward it) to the teaching. I mean what good is feeling close to God, if you are sick, unhappy, poor, or lonely. This philosophy says there is a Universal Law of Good and you can use it, direct it and create our experiences from it.

'A Tantric Path'
I come from a Methodist background and made the transition to Tantra Yoga when I was 20. It was a huge change or so I thought in the beginning but later after much study of the New Testament I realized that Lord Jesus himself had been a teacher of such a tantric path. Now I realize that many paths which I previously thought to be very different are in fact very close to each other. Some people would like to label me as a Hindu but in fact I feel I am now more close to Lord Jesus than they could ever be.


'The Desire to Convert Came Before the Man'
I have been seriously considering converting to Islam for 7 months now. In that time I have met a Muslim man and fallen in love (I would like to point out however, that the desire to convert came before the man). I am planning to convert before or when we marry. He is also a convert. I am not only looking for guidance in the conversion process, but also wondering how/when I should tell my conservative southern family. One other member of our family converted (to Judaism) and it was not received well, but everyone eventually got over it. She converted upon marriage, and so my family was more understanding than they might have been if she just did it on her own. This is why I believe it might be wise to wait until we marry. I would do it on my own anyway though. Any thoughts, advice or other guidance would be very much appreciated.


Shamed out of becoming Catholic
Read more on page 2 >>

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