Catholicism is losing its appeal in the US

Catholicism is losing its appeal in the US

Most Americans who were raised Catholic but have since left the RCC could not envision themselves returning to it, according to a new Pew Research Center survey examining American Catholics and family life.

The Washington Post reports that the survey’s findings were released on Wednesday, weeks before Pope Francis makes his first visit to the US.

Seventy-seven percent of those who were raised Catholic but no longer identify with the religion said they could not imagine themselves eventually coming back to the Church.,

The survey also examined US Catholics’ views on issues such as divorce, same-sex marriage and sinful behaviour – and found an openness for non-traditional family structures.

Although Catholics have long made up about a quarter of the US population, recent data has shown that percentage dropping. In 2007, 23.9 percent of Americans identified as Catholic. In 2014, that fell to  20.8 percent.

But the new survey illustrates something else about Catholic life in the US: while the percentage of Americans who may identify their religion as Catholicism is dropping, a much larger group of Americans identify as Catholic in some way.

In all, 45 percent of Americans say they are either Catholic, or are connected to Catholicism. That larger percentage includes “Cultural Catholics” (making up nine percent of those surveyed) who are not practicing Catholics but who identify with the religion in some way; and “ex-Catholics” (also nine percent) who were formerly Catholic but no longer identify with Catholicism at all.

And another eight percent said they had some other connection to Catholicism, for instance by having a Catholic partner or spouse. For the purposes of the survey, Pew kept each category mutually exclusive.

According to the survey, about half of those who were raised Catholic end up leaving at some point, while about 11 percent of those who left have since returned.

The study also sheds some light on how Catholic American attitudes on family, sex, and marriage compare with church teaching.

When asked whether they believed the Church should change its position on a variety of issues, a very large percentage of religiously identified Catholics – 76 percent – expressed a desire to see the Church allow the use of birth control. Sixty-two percent felt that the church should allow priests to marry, and about the same percentage thought that the Church should allow divorced and cohabitation couples to receive communion.

Fifty-nine percent of Catholics surveyed thought women should be allowed to become priests. Meanwhile, just 46 percent of Catholics believe the Church should recognise the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Among those Catholics who attend Mass weekly, support for these changes was lower overall. But Pew notes that even among this particular population, two-thirds of Mass-going Catholics think the Church should relax its prohibition on contraceptives.

Overall, cultural Catholics were more supportive of the changes named by the survey, while ex-Catholics were more supportive of allowing priests to marry, and for women to become priests.

Although an overwhelming majority of Catholics (nine in ten) believe in the concept of sin, they don’t seem to agree on what, precisely, constitutes one.

Fifty-seven percent of Catholics think it’s a sin to have an abortion, compared to 48 percent of the general US population who say the same. Forty-four percent think homosexual behavior is sinful (about the same say this among the general public). And just 17 percent of Catholics believe its a sin to use contraceptives, while 21 percent say the same of getting a divorce.

And although those percentages are higher for those who attend Mass weekly — 73 percent of weekly churchgoers say that abortion is a sin, for instance — the numbers are still pretty low on the issue of contraception: just 31 percent of weekly Mass attendees say the use of artificial contraception is a sin.

Despite those disagreements between US Catholics and Church teaching, the poll does not indicate that a change in that teaching would lead more Catholics to “revert” to their faith than do already.

22 responses to “Catholicism is losing its appeal in the US”

  1. L.Long says:

    Most who left became baptists because the RCC is not bigoted enough!
    I doubt most did some critical thinking and became atheists. It’s like the various xtians that became ISIS muslin….xtians were not bigoted or violent enough.

  2. Diane says:

    I left after 56 years and I am not going back.
    Too conservative and as a women, I m NOT valued, no matter what they say.

    If you are not planning the dinner, you are on the menu!!!

  3. AgentCormac says:

    Ah, but apparently abortions aren’t always sinful in the eyes of the church, and therefore god.

    Seemingly Frankie is going to allow priests to ‘forgive’ women who have had abortions, as well as the doctors who carry out the procedures, as a way of ‘celebrating’ a forthcoming catholic Jubilee Year (whatever one of those is). Presumably, however, as soon as that’s over with any women who have abortions in the future will be damned for all eternity once again. Funny how god’s laws can be changed at the drop of a hat – if I didn’t know better I’d say they were making it up as they go along!

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    Over thousands of years, original bits of organic matter can be gradually replaced by stone that slowly assumes the shape of the original object. His is how fossils are made. Something similar happens in human culture. Concepts like democracy or the marketplace or Christianity are gradually replaced by something else. These are all natural processes as are all changes. But to demand we treat a fossil as a living thing is to exhibit confusion and ignorance.

  5. dennis says:

    L. Long
    Please, no baptist really, such a horrible thought and of course they would have to be born again baptist the most horrible of religious idiots even ISIS. I would rather they stay catholic if they going to believe in a personal god.

  6. andym says:

    Confusing stats overall. But I’d suggest they reflect two different trends. While the US as a whole is gradually becoming more Godless, the remainder are becoming more militant.

  7. Atabale says:

    Who is the suffering guy on the stick, upheld by the guy with the funny hat?

  8. asquith says:

    Atabale, he’s probably suffering from being associated with the sort of bellends who invoke him.
    “I’m NOT with this person” 🙂

  9. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: I suppose, difficult though it is, that we must accept that some women, living freely and not sectioned under the Mental Health Act, believe that Frankie can do this. I watched a programme on the medieval mind recently. Many have not moved on. Their beliefs today are just as bizarre.

  10. HVillar says:

    The Vatican is against contraception unless they are secretly manufacturing and profiting from their sales, as was the case in the early 80’s with Luteolas.
    Good to see them fading away.

  11. barriejohn says:

    The “Year of Jubilee” is nothing to do with Roman Catholicism – it was a Jewish invention, still observed by many orthodox Jews. Fields were left fallow, land and property was returned, slaves and prisoners were freed, and debts were wiped out (yeah – really annoying for some!):

    “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.” (Leviticus 25:8-13 )

    Fundamentalist Christians, of course, are very interested in all this Old Testament guff, and, guess what, the arrival of the 2015/2016 Year of Jubilee HERALDS THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST (haven’t I heard that somewhere before?). All the facts are laid out here for those who have eyes to see:

    The final Jubilee will begin on the Day of Atonement in the fall of 2015. There will have been 40 complete Jubilee cycles following Christ’s death. Isn’t that interesting? There are so many 40’s in the Bible and 40 is a significant number to God. The 40 Jubilees after Christ’s death bring us to the end of probationary time. After the middle of 2016 there will be no more opportunities for people to repent and receive eternal life.

    Wake me up when it’s all over, and I’ll see what their new explanation is.

    “But of that day andt hat hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32).

  12. barriejohn says:

    Much of this was explained recently by Jonathan Cahn on the ever-excitable Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural on TBN UK:

  13. barriejohn says:

    Naturally, Mr Cahn wouldn’t be profiting from all this mediaeval bullshit, especially with the end of the world being so near and all that:

  14. Stephen Mynett says:

    Barriejohn,the obsession with 40 proves they are wrong, now had it been 42, the answer to life the universe and everything, that would be a different matter.

  15. barriejohn says:

    But 40 is a very significant number in the Bible…so is seven, so is three, so is four, so is 49. Oh, dear; I fear that the list may be endless!

    Some people are taking all this very seriously indeed:

  16. Stephen Mynett says:

    My favourite is 666, I am sure it has been on here before but there are some stores in the US that offer to or change the total if it comes to $6.66 to avoid frightening away customers. I also noted they add a cent, not subtract one, how charitably Christian.

  17. I think if one leaves the Church one should be sure it is for good reason.
    The main reason I left is because if there is an all good and all perfect and all powerful God he has no needs and therefore no right to command us. Rights come from needs not wants. Instead of sin we should simply believe in wrongdoing. Sin is a religious crime. Its not the same thing.

    The men of God cannot ask you to worship them for it lays too high of a burden on them to be perfect. So they say they are the humble servants of God. They invent a God – when you serve the God invented by men it is those men who benefit not God. You adore their creation and worship them by proxy. They are better than any God for they invent God.

    People serve corrupt religions and say, “I give this religion money and worship at its rites and I do it for God not the kind of people that run it.” They might mean this or they might be just making an excuse. If God asked these leaders to preach his gospel and to preserve it and gave them guidance then God is putting huge trust in them. It is their word you have that they speak for God not his word. Whether a religion is from God or man you will still be trusting man. If it is from God that is down to luck. You are depending on luck. A God who gives you his word through a man is asking you to trust that man alone. There is no greater trust than that put in man when man says he speaks for the only ultimately important being and gives his sacred truths.

    If there is no God, then it is man saying that the terrible things that happen to babies are justifiable for they are part of God’s plan. Do you see how terrible that is? Man is condoning random evil for the sake of belief. What does it say about man?

  18. Cali Ron says:

    When my family got 4 phones under a family plan our phone numbers were consecutive, such that mine would have ended in 666, but they skipped it and gave me 667. Funny, because I would nave loved to have that number. I have a tool case with a combo lock and I always set it to 666 when I’m not using it, just to amuse myself over the silly reactions some people have to that number. So far my head hasn’t spun on my shoulders or my eyes lit up red.

    Many buildings still skip the 13 floor, too. Man’s superstitious ways defy logic and science, yet educated people still believe in them. Oh well, here’s salt over the shoulder and a kiss for luck!

  19. barriejohn says:

    When President Ronald Reagan left office in 1989, he bought a new ranch in California. The address was 666 St. Cloud Road. He refused to move into his new home, however, until the address was changed. The address was officially changed to 668 St. Cloud Road, and the Reagans moved in.

    The rest of that article is hilarious. I know that I’ve said this before, but I knew Christians, personally, who, when purchasing another car, would add up the numerals in the number plate to ascertain whether they were “auspicious” or not (the Plymouth Brethren and other “dispensationalists” tend to obsess about numbers in the Bible anyway).

  20. barriejohn says:

    Anyone who wonders what I am talking about need only glance at the following:

    An essential key to understanding the design of God’s Word is through the meaning of Biblical numbers. The connections and patterns of numerals, when we search them out and understand them, reveal the handiwork of God. Although the arrangement of some is obvious, others are not and require in-depth Bible study. The patterns found do not exist by random chance but by design. Each one has a particular symbolism attached to it by our Creator.

    Yes – every bloody number has significance!

  21. Cali Ron says:

    barriejohn: Hilarious web site. It could easily pass as a parody web site it’s so pointless. Thanks for the laugh.