Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm one of ten percent...

I get a lot of hits from, among other things, people who are searching on "I don't want to be Catholic anymore." A surprising number, actually. (That search lands them here.)

This article indicates that neither the searchers nor I are alone in our desire to leave Catholicism.
The Roman Catholic Church has lost more members than any faith tradition because of affiliation swapping, the survey found. While nearly one in three Americans were raised Catholic, fewer than one in four say they're Catholic today. That means roughly 10 percent of all Americans are ex-Catholics.
10 percent. 28 million of us. That's a heck of a lot.

I'm surprised that 78 percent identify as Christian. That feels high. I'm also surprised that only 4 percent identify as atheist or agnostic...perhaps because I believe we're all agnostic at the core.

But if you're looking here for permission to not be Catholic...well, look at the stats. There are loads of us out there.

(Of course, calling myself Episcopalian in the last 6 months is a bit of a stretch. We're still looking for a faith community, but having a heckuva time getting out of bed on post-debate Sundays to do it.)


MCMC said...

Given the recent scandals in the church, the persistent refusal to deal honestly with issues of sexuality, a frankly dishonest conversation about ordained leadership and a growing movement to return to an era before Vatican II, I'm not at all surprised by these numbers.

Sadly, I think the attrition is of no great concern to a growing minority of Catholic clerical leadership. There is a school of thought amongst many Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests that they would rather have a smaller "remnant" church of more "orthodox" followers than a larger, more dynamic church of seekers that is more heterogeneous.

This used to be mostly academic to me. But my parish is now being taken over by the Archdiocese so that we can better "conform" to a more orthodox style of prayer. And I am at a total loss for what I will do.

TeacherRefPoet said...

It took me years of mulling it over in my head before I realized that there was too much in Catholicism that I had to ignore. While I suppose there's always a place for the loyal opposition, it finally came down to this: in another fifty years, we'll be talking about the current gay movement (especially with marriage) the way we talk about the racial civil rights movement of the mid-20th century now. I want to be able to tell my grandkids I was on the right side of the fight, and for all its positive traits, the Catholic Church is NOT.

But I was still amazed that 10% of the nation are ex-Catholics.

Incidentally, any church that believes that you, MCMC, are the kind of spirituality that needs to be cracked down on or brought into line...well, I don't trust them.

Maybe tell me in an email how it was that your parish didn't "conform"?

tommyspoon said...

Those of us in the "largest growing affiliation" (unaffiliated) saw this coming for a while. But that 78% figure seems right to me. If someone randomly stopped me on the street when I was first coming to terms with the notion that organized religion held little solace for me, I might have answered "Christian". I believe that a good portion of that 78% are people who are, in fact, unaffiliated but are not quite ready to let go of the label.

I was listening to Bill Hicks (comedian, RIP) the other day and one of his memes is the notion of man's evolution and that we are continuing to evolve. Perhaps if everyone "squeegeed their third [expletive] eye" with a "heroic dose" of psychedelics, we might cast off organized religion the way we cast off living in caves and doing the "hunter/gatherer" thing. Funny stuff, to be sure, but I think his underlying point is fascinating: maybe we don't need organized religion any more. We'll still need faith, but faith doesn't have to be organized to be effective.

Oh, pay no attention to me. I'm just a heathen who anchors his faith with humanity. Crazy!