Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Diverse, More Flexible, More Tolerant?

As my regular readers know, I was raised in a fairly secular Jewish household, married a Roman Catholic, and became a Unitarian Universalist in my mid thirties and ordained as a UU minister 5 years ago. My denomination is filled with people who come from other religious backgrounds, often seeking a new religious home that better meets their needs today. Turns out we are not alone.

The Pew Forum released a new report yesterday on the religious affiliations of a random sample of more than 35,000 Americans, ages 18 and older.

It's worth looking at if you are interested in religon and its impact on American life.

And for the perspective of sexual justice, it's a reminder that more than half of Americans are either Roman Catholic or Evangelical Protestant. The mainline Protestant churches represent less than one in five Americans, and non-Christians are fewer than one in 20.

The percentage of UU's, Reform Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims all hover around .7%. And more than one in six American adults report being unaffiliated.

One of the most interesting findings is that more than one quarter of Americans had left what I call their "cradle religion" to change faiths; that number rises to more than four in ten if movement between Protestant denominations are included.

And even more interesting to me is that 4 in 10 people are married to someone who came from another faith. We are perhaps more tolerant and open than we know.

There is a lot to study in this new report, but I think it gives us new understanding that religion is more dynamic in America than we have previously thought. And that dynamism provides religious leaders, including those in my own denomination, with opportunities -- to share our messages of hope, inclusion, acceptance, and welcome to those who may be seeking new faith communities.

Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

C4bl3Fl4m3 said...

I'm curious whether or not you were allowed to pick more than one answer on the "what faith are you" poll. Personally, for me to be accurate in my answer, I'd have to pick agnostic, UU, other Jewish, possibly Pagan and I suppose technically Catholic, for I've never formally left the Catholic church (although if they knew some of the stuff I've been doing [like homosexual sex w/o remorse], I'd be excommunicated).

I wonder how many other people are the same way.