Hidden exodus: RC becoming protestant

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The National Catholic Reporter reports that the Roman Catholic Church has lost one-third of its members and one in ten Americans (USA) is an ex-Catholic:

The number of people who have left the Catholic church is huge.

We all have heard stories about why people leave. Parents share stories about their children. Academics talk about their students. Everyone has a friend who has left.

While personal experience can be helpful, social science research forces us to look beyond our circle of acquaintances to see what is going on in the whole church.

The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has put hard numbers on the anecdotal evidence: One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a separate denomination, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists. One of three people who were raised Catholic no longer identifies as Catholic.

Any other institution that lost one-third of its members would want to know why. But the U.S. bishops have never devoted any time at their national meetings to discussing the exodus. Nor have they spent a dime trying to find out why it is happening.

….

The principal reasons given by people who leave the church to become Protestant are that their “spiritual needs were not being met” in the Catholic church (71 percent) and they “found a religion they like more” (70 percent). Eighty-one percent of respondents say they joined their new church because they enjoy the religious service and style of worship of their new faith.

Dissatisfaction with how the church deals with spiritual needs and worship services dwarfs any disagreements over specific doctrines. While half of those who became Protestants say they left because they stopped believing in Catholic teaching, specific questions get much lower responses. Only 23 percent said they left because of the church’s teaching on abortion and homosexuality; only 23 percent because of the church’s teaching on divorce; only 21 percent because of the rule that priests cannot marry; only 16 percent because of the church’s teaching on birth control; only 16 percent because of the way the church treats women; only 11 percent because they were unhappy with the teachings on poverty, war and the death penalty.

….

Nor are the people becoming Protestants lazy or lax Christians. In fact, they attend worship services at a higher rate than those who remain Catholic. While 42 percent of Catholics who stay attend services weekly, 63 percent of Catholics who become Protestants go to church every week. That is a 21 percentage-point difference.

….

…almost two-thirds of former Catholics who join a Protestant church join an evangelical church. Catholics who become evangelicals and Catholics who join mainline churches are two very distinct groups.

Read more here.

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Keromaru5
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Keromaru5

"But I believe the majority of those leaving the RCC become secular/decline-to-state/no affiliation."

Actually, as the article says: "Almost half of those leaving the church become unaffiliated and almost half become Protestant."

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tgflux
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tgflux

almost two-thirds of former Catholics who join a Protestant church join an evangelical church. Catholics who become evangelicals and Catholics who join mainline churches are two very distinct groups.

But I believe the majority of those leaving the RCC become secular/decline-to-state/no affiliation.

God bless those ex-RCs who become Evangelical, but they're not my primary concern.

Episcopalians ought to make a special effort to reach out to the secular ex-RCs. A Sunday morning at leisure may have its charms for a while, but I think there may be a deeper hunger after the pain (of the RCC) and then novelty (of secularity) wear off.

JC Fisher

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Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

I don't find the defections from the RCC surprising or shocking - look at the numbers of other groups. What rather shocks me is the charge that the US Bishops have shown such little concern.

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Mary Ann Hill
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Mary Ann Hill

The former RCs who have joined our parish in recent years have left almost entirely over the lack of response to clergy sex abuse. I think people are willing to live with a lot they disagree with, but not with the church protecting people who have ruined the lives of countless children.

Sometimes I think the best thing Rome could do would be to set up something like South Africa's Truth and Reconcilliation Commission. Of course, honestly admitting what has transpired for all these years would probably open them up to many more lawsuits, but I would rather be in a poor church than one refuses to admit to the magnitude of what has happened and atone for it.

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Chris Arnold
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Chris Arnold

Very briefly, it sounds to me like people leave the Roman communion for the same reason that they leave every other church. I'm sure there will be comments about how this clearly proves how rotten the Roman Catholic apple has become. It's sad, it's a problem for all of us in the religious world, and I don't take any great delight in hearing the news.

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