A new and comprehensive report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life provides sobering information for leaders of U.S. religious communities. In particular, there is much in the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey (2008) that U.S. Catholic bishops should take heed of. But if they read only one point, it’s this:
“While those Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes. While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic.”
Then, the bishops should do what any smart, intelligent leaders do: Ask those most likely to know what explains this exodus and what should be done about it.
See the full report online.