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Changing Religious Affiliations:
Results of a Pew Forum Survey

by Robert J. Young
©, 2008, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

One of the most significant religious news items for the last week of February 2008 was the release by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life of the results of a new survey that studied the religious affiliation of the United States population. The survey results found "nearly half of the American public saying they're something different today than they were as a child." Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, calls it a "dynamic religious marketplace, and very competitive."

When we hear that 44% of American adults have left the religious group of their childhood, should we respond with dismay or with renewed hope for the future? Changes in affiliation are swelling the nondenominational churches. We have claimed to be nondenominational but have become very denominational in our outlook, methods, and understandings.

Here are three action items for consideration.

While it may be easy to resort to hand-wringing (a wonderful religious exercise) in light of the survey results, I prefer to see a new horizon with new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of countless people. The question is whether our churches are bold enough and faith-vibrant enough to seize the opportunity.

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Last updated March 17, 2008.