More Americans Cut Church Ties

50% have switched denomination, and 16% have no affiliation
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2008 6:00 AM CST
More Americans Cut Church Ties
The Rev. Samuel Santana leads the New Life congregation in prayer during the congregation's Spanish language service Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star, Chris Richards)   (Associated Press)

Americans are swapping  religious affiliations at an accelerating rate, with 50% choosing  a different denomination than the one they were raised in, and 16%—double the number 20 years ago—saying the have no ties to a particular church, a new survey of religious life finds. That doesn't mean they're atheists, the Pew Forum report released yesterday concludes; only 1.6% say they are non-believers.

Roman Catholicism is shedding the most members, but making up for them with an influx of Latinos and other immigrants, to stay at about 24% of Americans. The number of  Protestants has declined from 65% two decades ago to 51%. "The extent of change in the American religious marketplace is remarkable," the Pew Forum's director told the Christian Science Monitor.  "Everyone is losing, and has difficulty retaining childhood members, but everyone is also gaining." (Read more religion stories.)

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