Just recently, a couple of months back, the issue regarding Americans’ change in religious preferences has been discussed and reported nationally. Most newspapers have integrated this phenomenon to their news due to a lot of developing information about Americans’ changing their religious affiliations. The growing numbers through the years with regards to this issue have attracted nationwide clamor. This trend among religious affiliations has developed through the years and has created a huge effect on America. Realizing and analyzing the reasons behind these changes in religious affiliations can help understand what was done wrong and what ideas were misunderstood.
What are the reasons why Americans change their religious affiliations? PEW SURVEY The PEW Survey was the most recent survey that hit the news. This survey attracted the nation and raised awareness among the issue of change in religious affiliations. “More than a quarter of adult Americans have left the faith of their childhood to join another religion or no religion, according to a new survey of religious affiliation by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The report, titled “U. S. Religious Landscape Survey,” depicts a highly fluid and diverse national religious life. If shifts among Protestant denominations are included, then it appears that 44 percent of Americans have switched religious affiliations. ” (Banerjee, 2008). Scholars have stressed, for at least a generation, that there is an increase in Americans moving among faith while there is an erosion in denominational loyalty.
Tracking religious affiliations is not conducted by the United States Census, but the survey from PEW which was based from interviews of more than 35,000 Americans, suggests the truth among the trend that the scholars have been stressing. During the 1980s, an indication from 5 percent to 8 percent of the American population identified themselves as unaffiliated with a certain or specific religion. This was conducted by the General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center. “In the Pew survey 7. 3 percent of the adult population said they were unaffiliated with a faith as children.
That segment increases to 16. percent of the population in adulthood, the survey found. The unaffiliated are largely under 50 and male. “Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13 percent of women,” the survey said. ” (Banerjee, 2008). The most affected group are the ones from the Catholic Church. Almost one-third of the survey takers said they were raised as Catholics and have no longer view themselves as such. Among the data given, it can be concluded that roughly 10 percent are former Catholics from the American population. Immigration also plays a key role in this matter.
Most immigrants are Christian and Catholics are almost half. The Muslims challenge the Mormons for acquiring the biggest families. While the Hindus are the most-educated and among the most affluent religious affiliation that the survey showed. “Experts said the wide-ranging variety of religious affiliation could set the stage for further conflicts over morality or politics, or new alliances on certain issues, as religious people have done on climate change or Jews and Hindus have done over relations between the United States, Israel and India. ” (Benerjee, 2008). The Key findings from the survey: Faith is fluid: 44% say they’re no longer tied to the religious or secular upbringing of their childhood. They’ve changed religions or denominations, adopted a faith for the first time or abandoned any affiliation altogether. ” (Grossman, 2008) “Nothing matters: 12. 1% say their religious identity is “nothing in particular,” outranking every denomination and tradition except Catholics (23. 9%) and all groups of Baptists (17. 2%). “ (Gorssman, 2008). “Protestants are fading: 51. 3% call themselves Protestant, but roughly one-third of this group were “unable or unwilling” to describe their denomination.
Immigrants sustain Catholic numbers: 46% of foreign-born U. S. adults are Catholics, compared with only 21% of native-born adults. Latinos are now 45% of all U. S. Catholics ages 18-29. ” (Grossman, 2008). GIVEN DATA ABOUT RELIGIONS According to the American Religious Identification Survey or ARIS, the proportion of Americans who are Christians during the year 1990 is 86% and by the the year 2001 it dipped to 77%. The United States is going through an unprecedented change in religious practices. Many Americans are changing affiliations or disaffiliating from their religions due to some various reasons.
During a 2001 polling data conducted by the American Religious Identification Survey, there were 81% American adults who identify with a specific religion during the year 2001. 76. 5% or 159 million of them are Christians. As of May 2007, the percentage dipped to 71% for Christians. By the end of the year of 2008, it is expected to fall below 70%. It could be concluded that by the year 2042, non-Christians will outnumber the Christian in the United States. Also by 2001, there were 52% of Americans who were Protestant, 24. 5% were Roman Catholic, 1. 3% were Jewish, while 0. % were Muslims or followers of Islam. Also during the year 2001, according to ARIS, the fastest growing religion in America is Micca (a neopagan religion). While there are various religions in America, there are 14. 1% of Americans who do not follow any organized religion. According to the ARIS survey, about 16% of adult subjects interviewed have changed their religious affiliations. The Baptists picked the largest number at 4. 4 million but they also lost 4. 6 million. The Catholics lost the greatest number at 9. 5 million but also picked up 4. 3 million.
Marriage also affects this issue. The inter-faith marriages are also causes of change in affiliation. The idea of love and romance overpowers the principles of some people towards their religion, that’s why when they get married to people from another religion they usually give up their own religion rather than give up their love. Political affiliations also affect religious affiliations. One example is that 59% of the Assemblies of God followers prefer the republicans. Republicans have 13% who are Jews, while 9% are Buddhists. Democrats on the other hand have 56% Jews.
Americans going to adulthood is the course of life when they are most open to religious change and growth. It is at this phase when most Americans convert to another religion. The instability of this phase in life was pinpointed at the General Social Survey. Various reasons have been attributed to the waning religiosity. Most common are the secularization of higher education in college and the guilt caused by the religious deviation from the norms taught by parents. When Americans go to college, the university classrooms give them expanded horizons which becomes the breeding ground to rethink their religious beliefs.
The new found freedom leads to the opportunity to stop religious activities like going to church they used to do. Suddenly, they become uninteresting to them and they become curious about other beliefs and at times motivated by their peers which place them at odds with their religious teachings. So it can be further said , new found freedom usually found in colleges or social institution or a certain age group can promote secularization which in turn may lead to stop believing and change affiliation with regards to religion. Other reasons why Americans change their affiliations are the following: Poor religious instruction – some do not even understand why they are in that religion in the first place which happens to most Catholics.
These misunderstandings about their original religions create conflict among a person and confuses him or her and his or her principles. This confusion leads to a search for a better answer or a clearer view of religion. Some people tend to change their religion due to this. Instead of trying to understand more the original religion, they result to find a new one, one that they consider as a more understandable one. Assimilation to American culture where there is strong individualism,choosing their own religious identity. Americans are one of the people in the world who has the strongest individualistic ideas. This individualism leads to freedom and this freedom leads to a more self-expressive form of identity. Being individualistic can be incorporated to having to want a self-learned religion, and not a religion that is passed on from generations. ? Many finds the faith unreasonable and therefore unbelievable which does not make sense to most Americans and would seem irrational that leads to change of faith.
The idea of not believing in one’s religion is reason enough for change. ? Another cause can be attributed to Americans being mobile people. During their lifetime they’re likely to change addresses due to changing jobs. So they meet people from other religious faith who influences their beliefs. Many things can happen and many people can affect our lives, these are the life-changing events that can alter a man’s views and principles in life. Moving from different places cause different gathered ideas and varying opinions about different subject matters including religion. Immigration is another key factor for this change of religious affiliation. A fair percent of the American population are immigrants. People from other countries affect Americans and their beliefs. The growing number of immigrants also equal the growing number with regards to the change in affiliations. This diversity affects the wholeness of a certain religion and suggests more division or change. CONCLUSION Religion is important for a man’s spiritual life. It can be accounted that it has existed for thousands and thousands of years.
The changes in religion is a reflection of the changes in time. The United States of America is one country who has been long regarded as having diverse people and diverse religion. The percentages shown by recent surveys have raised awareness among people. The changes in affiliations is caused by the changes of time. The world is changing rapidly and religious preferences is not exempted from it. There are a lot reasons that conjure up the notion of change in religious affiliation in America.
It can be due to people’s personal reasons or it can be social, political, racial, or just simply individual. These factors for example: marrying a person from a different religion, or cultural diversity, are reasons that support the over-all idea of change. The world is evolving in a lot of aspects, and America is one country that adapts to change. It is hard to come up with one single reason for Americans’ changing their religious affiliations, but the effect of globalization could also be one big factor. This globalization is the spread of different cultural ideas around the world.
The rich and diverse culture of America has adapted to globalization and modern trends. The traditionalist Americans have been affected by the challenges of the modern times and their religions are also challenged along the way. So, America is adapting to change and religion is not an exception. There are many reasons to back this thought up. But the main points are, Americans have freedom, individualistic ideas and adaptive thinking. Americans have been affected by change and changing religious affiliations is one solution that some Americans conclude as one answer for it.