Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Americans relocating faith of their fathers

The Florida Times-Union
February 26, 2008
By Jeff Brumley, The Times-Union

As a minister to Jacksonville college students, Shari O'Brien doesn't need a survey to tell her that a quarter of young adults claim no affiliation with a religious institution.

Nor did Gee Sprague, a local Methodist minister, need a poll to tell him mainline Protestant churches are in decline or that about half of American adults are quitting the faiths they were raised in for nondenominational congregations, other religions or no religion at all.

But confirmation that these trends are continuing as strong as ever came Monday when the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life issued its U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Relying on interviews with more than 35,000 adults, the survey describes a nation where religious self-identification and loyalty are in flux.

"It's sobering to me, but it's not a surprise," Sprague, pastor of Crossroad Church in Jacksonville, said about the survey.

Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, told The Associated Press the survey reveals that religion in America is "like a marketplace - very dynamic, very competitive."

"Everyone is losing, everyone is gaining," Lugo told AP. "There are net winners and losers, but no one can stand still. Those groups that are losing significant numbers have to recoup them to stay vibrant."

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