Wednesday, July 12, 2023

"Train up a child in the way he should go..."

Ryan Burge at GetReligion asks "How many believers exit their childhood faith? And where are they headed these days?"
Some of the findings:
Retention is down for all Christians, but at different rates. For Catholics, it dropped below 80% somewhere in the early 1990s and it fell below 70% in the early 2010s. For Protestants, it’s still fairly high but is clearly down from the 90% reported in the 1970s. Today, about 80% of folks raised Protestant are still Protestant as adults.

The nones are a different story entirely, though. It used to be that 2/3 of those raised nones identified with a religion as adults. Now, about 2/3 of those raised with no faith group are still nones into adulthood. ....

Evangelicals have very good retention rates, even in the last decade nearly three quarters were still part of the same faith tradition as adults. The overall retention decline for evangelicals is just five percentage points. For mainline it’s much worse. They started right around the same level as evangelicals (76%), but now it’s just 58%. That means that if you found five people who were raised in the mainline, two of them would no longer be mainline today. ....

For evangelicals, 73% stick around. But the next most popular destination? Nones. Thirteen percent of those raised evangelical end up as nones as adults. That rate is actually low compared to mainline Protestants. Among those raised mainline, 14% end up becoming evangelicals and 20% switch to no religion, while a small handful convert to Catholicism.

For Catholics, the most popular destination is also no religion — 17% in this data. The only other popular destination for ex-Catholics is evangelicalism. Nearly one in 10 cradle Catholics are now evangelicals.

What’s interesting are the non-religious however. Recall that their retention rate is now about two-thirds. What about the one third who become religious? About half of them start identifying as evangelical Christians as adults. The remainder are scattered across a lot of faith groups — a few becoming Catholics, a few switch to a non-Christian faith. .... (more)
Ryan Burge, "How many believers exit their childhood faith? And where are they headed these days?," GetReligion, July 12, 2023.

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