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People are leaving religion due to anti-LGBTQIA teachings, sexual abuse – survey

In the US, over one-quarter (26%) of people now identify as “religiously unaffiliated”, with the number growing over the last decade, so that it is now the largest single religious “group” in the country.

Photo by Brian Kyed from Unsplash.com

Losing my religion?

In the US, over one-quarter (26%) of people now identify as “religiously unaffiliated”, with the number growing over the last decade, so that it is now the largest single religious “group” in the country.

This is according to a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), with the idea of leaving and switching of faith traditions by large numbers of people called “religious churning”.

Other findings:

  • the number of those who describe themselves as “nothing in particular” has held steady since 2013
  • those who identify as atheists have doubled (from 2% to 4%)
  • those who say they’re agnostic has more than doubled (from 2% to 5%)

After PRRI looked at which faith traditions those unaffiliated people came from, it found 35% were former Catholics, 35% were former mainline Protestants, and about 16% were former evangelicals.

With only 9% of people actively looking for an organized religion that would be right for them, there are implications on how and even whether houses of worship should try to attract new people, said Melissa Deckman, PRRI’s chief executive officer.

On the reasons for leaving religions, PRRI found that:

  • 67% of people left because they simply stopped believing in that religion’s teachings
  • 47% of respondents who left cited negative teaching about the treatment of LGBTQIA people

“Religion’s negative teaching about LGBTQ(IA) people are driving younger Americans to leave church,” Deckman said, adding that they found that “about 60% of Americans who are under the age of 30 who have left religion say they left because of their religious traditions teaching, which is a much higher rate than for older Americans.”

Other reasons cited for leaving included: clergy sexual abuse, and over-involvement in politics.

The PRRI survey involved over 5,600 adults late in 2023.

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