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Evangelicals surge as Catholics wane


(Science 2.0) The percentage of Americans who say they are strong in their religious faith has been steady for the last four decades but a new sociology analysis claims that religious groups who have become more staunchly devout have surged while others, notably Roman Catholics, who have sought to become more liberal under Vatican II in that time, have faded in popularity.

Catholics now report the lowest proportion of strongly affiliated followers among major American religious traditions. The drop in intensity could present challenges for the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S., the study suggests, both in terms of church participation and in Catholics’ support for the Church’s social and theological positions.

“On the whole, the results show that Americans’ strength of religious affiliation was stable from the 1970s to 2010,” said Philip Schwadel, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist who authored the analysis to be published in Sociology of Religion. “But upon closer examination, there is considerable divergence between evangelical Protestants on the one hand and Catholics and mainline Protestants on the other.”

Schwadel modeled data from nearly 40,000 respondents to the General Social Survey from 1974-2010 and created a measure for Americans’ strength of religious affiliation over time. Overall, the proportion of Americans who said they were “strongly affiliated” with their religion increased from 38 percent in the 1970s to a high of more than 43 percent in the mid-1980s but then that number slid to 37 percent by the end of the ’80s and has remained about the same ever since.

The changes were instead within the nation’s various denominations and religious traditions – most noticeably between Catholics and evangelicals. Since the 1980s, an intensity gap emerged between the groups, the study found. By 2010, about 56 percent of evangelicals said they considered themselves strong adherents to their faith but for Catholics, it was just 35 percent, which was also 4 percentage points lower than mainline Protestants.

Schwade suggests the changes are related to “period-based” effects, like political or social events or other occurrences that can lead to changes among certain groups of people during a specific time period. In Catholics’ case, there was an abrupt decline in strength of affiliation starting in 1984 and ending in 1989, which could be due to the growing number of Latino Catholics responding to the survey. Prior research has shown Latino Catholics to be unlikely to report a strong religious affiliation compared with other Catholics. Sex scandals and an inconsistent response to pederasts have not helped. [More]


Science 2.0



  1. [...] [see also: Priests pushed to become better preachers and Evangelicals surge as Catholics wane] [...]

  2. jeanette says:

    Speaking as a former Evangelical who entered the Catholic Church in 2002, I can honestly say that I know SO MANY dissatisfied Evangelicals who are not even attending church any longer because they are in such disagreement. I also know many returning (after evangelicalism) Catholics. So I would question the data. Check out former Protestant, Scott Hahn as an example.

  3. Tony says:

    Maranatha, and Kumbya are excellent Advent pleading for the LordS return.
    Kumbya my Lord!

  4. mike says:

    I believe the only thing the reformation did was cause competition between Christians. Theres more competition between Christians than there is the olympics. Maybe we should start a Christian olympics :) whoever can preach the loudest, jump up and down the longest and speak in tongues the fastest… wins the gold!!!!

  5. john says:

    I love to read all your comments.I love your conviction most of all.We all know who founded our Church and Who is present in our EUCHARIST !We may not have mega church buildings with pastors preaching properity and bossing God around or fancy coffee shops in chuch. We have the Banquet of Banquets and we need to share our true faith with everyone.We do need our leaders to be better evangelist,but what is stopping us from doing our part.I love our Mass but we also need a spiritual revival I found it in the Charismatic renewual just open your heart to the Holy Spirit and see..If is’nt for you than check out other groups with the Church..I consider myself BOTH a cradle Catholic and a convert. I search the scriptures and listen to alot of apologist and choose to be Catholic..

    • Catholic Lady says:

      Revival – starts with you and I – getting down on our knees and asking God to send a spiritual revival throughout our respective countries!!

    • Catholic Lady says:

      As for me I live a life dependant on the “Holy Spirit” and ask for the Spirit’s leading every morning before I do anything – for I am nothing without God.

  6. john says:

    What the church needs to recognize is that people need strong leadership..the same way a team responds well under a tough strict coach..mushy feel good sermans and seeking to be popular is a turn-off..the Catholic church lost most of it’s members when they threw away most of our treasures and traditions..when they decided that other denominations are our equals..they are not.The Church needs to go back to preaching against sin..mentioning hell and praying for the souls in purgatory.It needs to stress the holiness of the Eucharist..it can start by dismissing the EM’s…it should openly honor our Lady without fear of what others think and promote the worlds most powerful weapon..the Rosary.Bring back sacred music and reverence for the mass.It needs to start in the families as well..more fathers need to get involved.

    • Mary says:

      Amen John! For so long the message from the pulpit has been Kumbaya because of the fear of offending anyone. See what it has done? I couldn’t agree more!

  7. mary c. says:

    we go to church to worship God, not to get the feel good feeling. Yes, we are full of joy when we are in the presence of our Lord. But the Catholic church has been so overtaken with tolerance for sin, the joy is gone. Let us pray for our priests to get back to teaching the truth.

  8. El Gato says:

    Protestism is the easy way, the seeds who fell upon the path who grew fast with enthusiasm but had no root. Protestents waste valuable time fighting evolution when so much evidence exists for it. What does it matter HOW God created us as long as we realize He did? Don’t AEsop’s Fables illustrate truth without being truthful?

    • Catholic Lady says:

      El Gato, the root of the Protestant Church is the Holy Catholic Church – is was the Catholic Church that provided the world with the Holy Bible, that all Christians use in studying scripture..The easy way? There are many protestants who have given up their lives to preach the “Word” of God on the mission fields, hardly the easy way.

      • Ed Hynes says:

        To say nothing of the Protestants who were burned at the stake or otherwise murdered in the name of the Holy Catholic Church. Of course, it was usually the local civil authority that did the dirty work.

  9. mike says:

    Before becoming Catholic I went to a church such as this. Shouting and jumping in a trance like state. Speaking in tongues one minute, and with tongues of vipers – the next. Its very sad on how people cant even go one hour per week without being entertained.

  10. Laurie says:

    I understand your defensiveness Catholics, and I am a believer in the true Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ too. She is the safe ship on route to the shores of heaven.(that is, if one follows her teaching) However, I was away from the Church for many years in my youth. When I returned to the faith about 20 years ago after having undergone a conversion, I must say I was astounded by the lack of faith and real love for God I discovered lacking in the Church. I had experienced real praise and worship in the Evangelical Churches and a powerful, tangible anointing of the Holy Spirit. God does visit in glory and power where He is truly praised and loved, Catholic or not. This is why the Evangelical church is attracting people. We are missing what the Evangelicals have and that is rousing praise and worship, not just a follower of traditional habits. I am NOT saying that tradition is bad! Tradition is important too. I am saying that, for too many, that is all their ‘worship’ is. An example is a recent comment I heard from an usher being greeted by a woman coming into the church for Mass. She said, “Hello George, how are you this fine morning?” He answered, “Well I’m here aren’t I?” She responded with an understanding chuckle,”Yes, I guess that is all we can expect!” What??? You are about to receive the gift of Body and Blood of Jesus who died for you, who gives you His Body for Food. They can’t possibly really believe that or they would not be speaking in this manner coming to greet the King of Kings and preparing to receive this GIFT of living Bread! This just sums up the attitude of the majority of Catholic church-goers, and even many priests I’m sorry to say. But doesn’t God expect more than that? Indeed He does! Remember what it says in the Book of Revelation about God preferring if you be hot or cold, but the lukewarm He will spit out of His mouth. We need to get those Evangelicals into the Catholic Church. Stop with the criticism and backbiting and lets look for unity as children of God in that we have something to offer one another. They have much to teach us about worship and giving praise to God. They need the Sacraments and the teaching of the Saints. They need the deposit of faith that Our Lord guaranteed would not be overcome by the enemy. We Catholics, however, need to learn about the real power of our faith through the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The people need to be set on fire like the first Christians and the Evangelicals can show us how to ignite it. Without the fire and power of the Holy Spirit, our habits are just plain dull and boring ritual, the kind that would cause a person to say “Well I am here aren’t I, that is all God should expect,” the kind that God wishes to spit out of His mouth.

    • joycelen says:

      Before I became Catholic, I was a member of a charismatic Lutheran Church. The combination of the liturgy and praise and worship was wonderful. Sometimes the responses in the Catholic churches sounds like the congregation could care less, like they are hardly alive. I mean just sad. Why not respond with a ring of faith? The pope has approved and sanctioned the Charismatic movement within the Church. Laurie, you hit the nail on the head.

    • Catholic Lady says:

      Well said Laurie. I am a former Evangelical Baptist who has been welcomed into the Holy Catholic Church..I came through the leading of the Holy Spirit and I stayed because the Real Presence of Christ is found in our Church..where I recieve His Body and His Blood at each and every Mass, I take part in and they are many. I come because I love the Lord not out of any sense of obligation. I love God’s Church and I invite othere to come and experience it for themselves ..I tell of the wonderful treasures found within our Church..and I tell the story of how God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die on a Cross for you and I,..and I tell the gospel story to anyone who will listen.

  11. mike says:

    Jesus tell us; ” Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you” Should not that be our greatest joy? For some, Nope! They want the joy that comes from loud preaching and loud music. For me, however,I will get my joy, from the Body of Christ.

  12. Jo says:

    The Catholic Church was started by Jesus Christ. We have the Seven Sacraments given to us by Jesus himself. We have the Euchrist, the Body & Blood of Christ, We have Mary, the Mother of Christ. God gave us his son to die on the Cross for our Salvation. We have it all. It is very hard to be catholic especially a good and devout Catholic. We have to go to Confession at least once a month, never miss Mass on Sunday and Holy days of Obligation. As for our Priest, they are good Priest. There are more Protestant Pastors who abuse children than there are Priest. WE LOVE OUR PRIEST.

  13. Margaret says:

    I stop for God, I look to God, and I listen for God’s wisdom. The of us are flawed. Religion is man made, but God made me, I will stick with God.

    • katie says:

      The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ himself We catholics are as sick about the scandal as anyone else, but I’m not throwing out the baby with bathwater. I have met many of our protestant sisters and brothers who are good holy people I love them all. Jesus said “He who is without sin cast the first stone” No stones were cast that day

  14. Florian says:

    The Evangelicals are the spiritual and corporeal descendants of the reformation-era protestors known as Protestants. They protested the rampant corruption in Catholic clerical circles, were rebuffed and sometimes executed. Now they have their own churches, Catholic clerical corruption is worse than ever, and the issues then are still the issues now, with the obviou updating that science brings. Isn’t it about time Christians start LISTENING to one another?

    • cpatt says:

      Florian: what has not been told is that the protestors won. They forced the Church to look at itself and change its terrible ways. The Church did reform and change, but that was not good enough. They decided that they wanted to be totally against the Church and set their own rules. The protestor won! But in the end they lost.

      • Ed Hynes says:

        cpatt, you and others here seriously misrepresent the Reformation. It is not as if Luther, Calvin et. al. sought to set their own rules or their own convenience or license. In addition to their criticism of the Church’s abuses, they had a different understanding of salvation, of our relationship with God and of authority in the Church. The political and economic situation and the existence of the printing press meant they had a wider audience than in the past, and acceptance by more powerful figures who could protect them from physical destruction. I’d suggest reading some Luther or Calvin to see what they were really about.

  15. Recovering Catholic says:

    Take a look at that photograph at the top of this page. This is what Catholics want to feel like when they attend mass. This euphoria is what is missing. It has been pointed out by various apologists that the Holy Spirit is not a “feeling,” but I disagree. This kind of heart-felt euphoria MUST become part of the mass experience. The earliest Christians had it before Constantine hi-jacked the church and made a political hierarchy out of it.

    We need great speakers with a “gift” in the Catholic masses. I still say the solution is to put up huge flat television screens so that the homilies can be “piped in” from the few “gifted” public speakers we have in the Catholic Church. We sure don’t have very many from what I’ve experienced.

    • Sheila says:

      So many seem to rely on homilies alone to arouse their faith, with little thought given to what they, themselves, bring to the church. In “Forming Intentional Disciples” Sherry Weddell refers readers to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, in part: “But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain.” Let’s first consider what we bring to the church.

    • Concerned says:

      Recovering you are so right about the enthusiasm. Now whatever enthusiasm there was, and admitedly Catholics want it but are too reserved by refusing to let go, is being smothered by the return to a Liturgy that leaves absolutely no room for the Holy Spirit. With each new ruling about Liturgy the hierarchy seems to be saying that there is no room for the Holy Spirit at Mass. I am not too sure abou tthe large television screens – people will feel they do not have to be part of the community to be nourished – they can stay home and listen. Preachers have to be willing to be open to the Holy Spirit as well.

      • joycelen says:

        Concerned, I do have to say, I am not worried about a return to the older liturgy. I think the Holy Spirit can find His way there too. It is all good. Please see, I do appreciate your thoughts. You know there were so many converts from Evangelicals to Eastern Orthodoxy recently. I think the Holy Father sees that and is trying to give young people something really solid that shines with mystery. That is a good thing. Personally, when I made my choice between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, one aspect was having a Shepherd in Rome that would guide us. I think he knows what he is doing and nothing can truly stifle the Holy Spirit in a believers heart, at least not every day lol!

    • Ed Hynes says:

      Recovering, I respectfully disagree with your statement about what Catholics want to feel when they attend mass. There are some, perhaps many, who would find such euphoric responses a distraction (at best). I’m not particularly defending or advocating the Latin mass or a very passive congregation, but at the risk of stating a truism, I think our responses and needs are varied, and that no single model of worship is best for all times, people and places.

      • Recovering Catholic says:

        The first followers of Jesus did not find the euphoria they felt to be a distraction. According to the New Testament story, at the first Christian Pentacost, the disciples appeared to be “drunk” with euphoria.

        If one truly believes and has internalized that life continues after death, that death is just a transition through a doorway, and that we will be resurrected, as Jesus was, into a glorious place of unconditional love and acceptance, how could one NOT feel euphoric; that is, if you truly “believed?”

        • Recovering Catholic says:

          P.S. We need to euphorically “celebrate” this fact at mass!!!

          • Dan says:

            According to Acts, the disciples were all together in one place. It did not say they were sharing in the breaking of the bread. Charismatic prayer meetings are wonderful ways to worship our Lord. However, as we celebrate the Eucharist, it’s probably more appropriate to worship in reverence and awe, as we are partaking in the heavenly banquet. (See Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb’s Supper) There’s place for both exuberance and more reserved worship, but the latter is more appropriate for mass. Just my two cents.
            God bless.

        • Ed Hynes says:

          And when the Holy Spirit appears to me as tongues of fire I expect to respond that way. But if I remember correctly, the disciples did not behave euphorically in Jesus’s presence or in response to His preaching. In any case, I don’t think you can or should dictate someone else’s religious experience.

          • joycelen says:

            You do not know Ed, how the apostles felt. The Bible does not tell us much about that. Really think about it. Do you truly believe the mos Holy, most Joyful, the true Love, the One from whom all life emanates is present at Mass? You may not shout or even raise your hands but you will be filled often with joy.

            • Ed Hynes says:

              Joycelen, I didn’t comment on how the apostles felt, only their reported behavior. Religious experience is personal and telling others what they should feel is inappropriate.

            • Ed Hynes says:

              Joycelan, I would add that saying what I will or should feel if I “truly believe” is really outrageous and insulting.

              • joycelen says:

                No, not meant that way brother. I know it is different for everyone. Some people just have and intellectual faith and I am not judging the state of your soul. But really think about it! How amazing, how wonderful that Christ is with us and gives Himself for us. You read me totally wrong and I apologize for any insult you may think I meant. But do not take away the joy from others or say it should not exist in the Catholic Church in an exuberant way as well as a quiet and silent way. Blessings..

    • joycelen says:

      If one truly believed that Jesus the Lord was present in the Mass, one would feel what in Catholic circles is known as ecstasy! This is meant for every human being when they come close to Jesus. Maybe not every day or every time, but enough that our Mass should be the most joyous place on earth.

      • Vin says:

        Joycelen, It would be very difficult for a person to respond as you describe since faith is what is required, not feelings. The very fact that a person sincerely tries to believe is enough. We are human, and our senses go only so far.

        • joycelen says:

          Vin, I do agree with you. I do not feel that ecstasy at every Mass. It is a sense of the Presence, not an emotion. Yes, faith is what is required and there are days that are just like that for sure. And depending on personality, some people are gifted to have that rock steady quiet faith. But some are gifted to have, on occasion, the awareness that truly He is present in a deep spiritual sense. It means nothing as to salvation, but should be respected, just as the other should be respected.

    • cpatt says:

      Did Jesus promise that His followers were to be euphoric at the services?? Did Jesus say come to church to get a spirital high? And what happens if euphoria is not felt? Is that person a bad Christian? Jesus promised us many, many times that we would suffer and die. He warned us about those who go through life wearing their religion on their sleeves. Sure we should not go around jumping up and down screaming but accept the gentle touch of the Spirit and go about doig good. I agree homilies need a lot of work and priest and deacon should respond, but the thought that you should go to a service just to get that high is absurd. You cannot find that command from anyone in the Bible.

  16. Ed Hynes says:

    Amusing that they describe the Catholic Church as trying to become more liberal during a period when the papacy has been increasingly conservative– it’s like they didn’t notice John Paul or Benedict. Another example of cliche substituting for thought. I think liberalism peaked about 1965, or maybe 1962.

  17. Tony says:

    The lack of real leadership from the old farts in Rome trickles through to the people in the pew here in the US.
    When the bishops start to act more like shepherds of the disciples of Christ rather than ambitious guys trying to clime up the ranks with a different color hat, more people will come back to and remain in the Church.


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