2/3rds leave the Borg!

by Number1Anarchist 11 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Number1Anarchist

    Time.com CNN.com

    Monday, September 01, 2008 Time IssueClick here to find out more!

    • America's Unfaithful Faithful
    Monday, Feb. 25, 2008 By DAVID VAN BIEMA Church religion pews churchgoers Aladdin Color, Inc. / Corbis

    A major new survey presents perhaps the most detailed picture we've yet had of which religious groups Americans belong to. And its big message is: blink and they'll change. For the first time, a large-scale study has quantified what many experts suspect: there is a constant membership turnover among most American faiths. America's religious culture, which is best known for its high participation rates, may now be equally famous (or infamous) for what the new report dubs "churn."

    The report, released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, is the first selection of data from a 35,000- person poll called the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Says Pew Forum director Luis Lugo, Americans "not only change jobs, change where they live, and change spouses, but they change religions too. We totally knew it was happening, but this survey enabled us to document it clearly."

    According to Pew, 28% of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another one. And that does not even include those who switched from one Protestant denomination to another; if it did, the number would jump to 44%. Says Greg Smith, one of the main researchers for the "Landscape" data, churn applies across the board. "There's no group that is simply winning or simply losing," he says. "Nothing is static. Every group is simultaneously winning and losing."

    For some groups, their relatively steady number of adherents over the years hides a remarkable amount of coming and going. Simply counting Catholics since 1972, for example, you would get the impression that its population had remained fairly static — at about 25% of adult Americans (the current number is 23.9%). But the Pew report shows that of all those raised Catholic, a third have left the church. (That means that roughly one out of every 10 people in America is a former Catholic, and that ex-Catholics are almost as numerous as the America's second biggest religious group, Southern Baptists.) But Catholicism has made up for the losses by adding converts (2.6% of the population) and, more significantly, enjoying an influx of new immigrants, mostly Hispanic.

    An even more extreme example of what might be called "masked churn" is the relatively tiny Jehovah's Witnesses, with a turnover rate of about two-thirds. That means that two-thirds of the people who told Pew they were raised Jehovah's Witnesses no longer are — yet the group attracts roughly the same number of converts. Notes Lugo, "No wonder they have to keep on knocking on doors."

    The single biggest "winner," in terms of number gained versus number lost, was not a religious group at all, but the "unaffiliated" category. About 16% of those polled defined their religious affiliation that way (including people who regarded themselves as religious, along with atheists and agnostics); only 7% had been brought up that way. That's an impressive gain, but Lugo points out that churn is everywhere: even the unaffiliated group lost 50% of its original membership to one church or another.

    The report does not speculate on the implications of its data. But Lugo suggests, "What it says is that this marketplace is highly competitive and that no one can sit on their laurels, because another group out there will make [its tenets] available" for potential converts to try out. While this dynamic "may be partly responsible for the religious vitality of the American people," he says, "it also suggests that there is an institutional loosening of ties," with less individual commitment to a given faith or denomination.

    Lugo would not speculate on whether such a buyer's market might cause some groups to dilute their particular beliefs in order to compete. There are signs of that in such surveys as one done by the Willow Creek megachurch outside Chicago, which has been extremely successful in attracting tens of thousands of religious "seekers." An internal survey recently indicated much of its membership was "stalled" in their spiritual growth, Lugo allowed that "it does raise the question of, once you attract these folks, how do you root them within your own particular tradition when people are changing so quickly."

    The Pew report has other interesting findings; the highest rates for marrying within one's own faith, for example, are among Hindus (90%) and Mormons (83%). The full report is accessible at the Pew Forum site.

  • wha happened?
  • wozadummy

    Wow too. I'd like to a report on how many of todays transient religions started in the USA

  • WTWizard

    That leaves us with two problems. First, getting the other third out. And second, they are getting too many people in.

  • Pahpa

    The Pew report seems to indicate that 2/3rds of "those raised as Jehovah's Witnesses" leave the organization. I wonder what the statistics are for the converts?

    I think it is harder for those who converted to leave the organization because they have to admit that they were wrong about religion once again. Some may still be convinced that the Watchtower is doctrinally right in spite of the other faults they find about the organization. Also, it is harder to disconnect when you have "burned your bridges" with old friends and relatives. I think these factors may keep many in the organization.


    .........."No wonder they have to keep Knocking on Doors!"..Laughing Mutley...OUTLAW

  • jamiebowers

    An even more extreme example of what might be called "masked churn" is the relatively tiny Jehovah's Witnesses, with a turnover rate of about two-thirds. That means that two-thirds of the people who told Pew they were raised Jehovah's Witnesses no longer are — yet the group attracts roughly the same number of converts. Notes Lugo, "No wonder they have to keep on knocking on doors."

    That cracked me up!

  • NewYork44M

    from the report:

    Jehovah's Witnesses have the lowest retention rate of any religious tradition. Only 37% of all those who say they were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses still identify themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses.

    If you think back who you grew up with, you will probably be able to confirm this statistic.

    This is the kind of information that should have the society totally change their strategic plan. The reality is that the d2d work does not work and the internal retention is horrible.

  • jgnat

    It just goes to show, the more you try and control people's movements, the faster they go. Kind of reminds me of sqeezing silly putty. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kofno/15210642/

  • james_woods

    This may be the most fascinating statistic on the JWs membership statistics of anything I have read on JWD in the 2+ years I have been here.

    It is so interesting to me for one reason, that the idea of this is something that I have privately suspected for a long time. I think the JWs are only on a slight gain (or slight loss, depending on what you believe of their own faulty records) - because the new gains in Spanish or other new groups is barely offsetting the losses in the traditional U.S. English congregations.

    I wonder how this group obtained the statistics? From polling through the general population, and then tabulating "former JW" participants? Was it a carefully controlled process? Did this group have an axe to grind (I doubt that, they seem to be just providing general information on a number of religions...)

    Anyway, fascinating stuff from a seemingly unbiased source. Bad, bad news for the WTS if true.

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