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Linkfest: Americans in Religious Transition

A new study of the religious dominations in the United States finds that Protestants are becoming a minority, Catholicism is becoming heavily Hispanic, and more people are saying they're not affiliated with any religion.

"Americans are not only changing jobs, changing locations, changing spouses, but they're also changing religions on a regular basis," said Luis E. Lugo, the director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which conducted the study. "We have nearly half the American public telling us they're something different today than they were as a child, and that's a staggering number. It's such a dynamic religious marketplace, and very competitive."

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As one of those religions that supposedly "in decline," at least in regard people born in the faith not staying in the faith, I find this to be good news.

One thing Jesus hated more than anything else was hypocrisy. Claiming to be Catholic and yet doing everything you can to oppose all of your Church's teachings is the epitome of hypocrisy. Having them leave means that vines, to use Jesus' expression, that have never produced any good fruit have been pruned back, leaving room for fruitful vines to grow.

I've seen too many times where people in Church --including the clergy-- have simply been going through the motions. The Pew study may be an indicator that these folks will go elsewhere.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 6:44 PM | 2-26-2008

"Claiming to be Catholic and yet doing everything you can to oppose all of your Church's teachings is the epitome of hypocrisy."

I totally agree. Catholicism (how I was taught) has a tradition of inward reflection and outward investigation. Catholicism was the Intellectual take on Christianity; that's how I was taught.

I was taught that Catholicism was a fluid faith; and that it grew as mankind's knowledge and consciousness grew.

I was taught that Jesus was a punk who shook the system, questioned unjust authority and fought for truth and justice, especially for the downtrodden.

But Catholicism now can be a bully's club a bit too often. And too often puts the need of expired traditions in front of a progressing society. The hypocrisy of claiming to preach Truth, yet rejecting research and observation if it conflicts with hocus-pocus.

And so people leave.

Although its probably best people go on a quest for religion. It makes it an adventure. Taking the first faith that falls in your lap isn't the same as taking a faith you've struggled for. And after shopping around people are going to settle where people are going to settle. It may be they go back to homebase, it maybe they end up with something totally new.

Sent by Brian | 8:25 PM | 2-26-2008

Are we seeing Religion 2.0? A moving away from top down - our way or the highway version?

I find it ironic that it was the printing press, blogging 1450 style, that enabled Luther to propose that we don't need an institution to intermediate between God and man.

If you look around Youtube you will see that this movement is not simply unaffiliation but an affirmation for many who do not believe in God at all - not previously safe to declare - also lonely - but web 2.0 offers affiliation without organization - a powerful alternative

Sent by Robert Paterson | 6:23 AM | 2-27-2008

Dear Brian,

I agree with your first paragraph, see the need for clarification, and feel that you've completely off the rails after that.

Catholicism is not a "fluid" religion; it's a developing religion. Just as a child grows toward adulthood while still remaining the same person, the Catholic faith develops in Her understanding but doesn't flip-flop.

Jesus, while dispising the hypocrisy of religious leadership, nontheless remained obedient to the law.

Now, I'm stunned that the Catholic Church rejects research. Certainly, you're not writing of biology, since every discovery of human development continues to support the Church's opposition to abortion. If you're writing of Galileo, his "research" couldn't be verified for another 300 years after his death, when scientists had the telescopes necessary to measure polaxis shift (BTW, I'm a scientist). Now, expecting the Catholic Church to have the crystal-ball knowledge of future astronomical testing capabilities involves far more hocus-pocus than the Catholic Church can ever be accused of.

But, at the end of day, Brian, I do agree with you. People can shop around, and if they truly seek truth, beauty, and wisdom, then, and Cardinal Newman put it, "all detours lead to Rome."

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 1:54 PM | 2-27-2008

Dear Robert Paterson,

This is one of these revisionist stories that just won't go away. The Gutenberg Bible, published 1455, was a Catholic bible, not a Protestant bible. A Protestant bible would not occur until 1522. So, what were people doing with the printing press for 67 years? Propogating, among other things, the Catholic Scripture and the Catholic faith.

Now, to the straw man you offered up. The Catholic is not an "intermediate (sic) between God and man." The Church, as a servant to the Word of God, brings God to His people, through prayer, sacraments, and Scripture. If you want to constrast to the posture you opine, the Church in fact stands in back of both God and man.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 2:07 PM | 2-27-2008