Interfaith work for teens: 4-30-09
Is this school a good idea?: 5-2/3-09

Religion in flux in U.S.: 5-1-09

I said here the other day when I first mentioned the new study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public LIfe that I'd get around to a more detailed look at it. Well, that's what today's entry is.


The link I've given you to the study in the previous paragraph will let you read the whole thing. And if statistics about religion float your boat, you might want to do that.

But the overwhelming point of this follow-up study to the original Pew study is that faith in America seems to be in constant flux. About half of all adult Americans no longer are affiliated with the religion of their childhood (or the lack of religion of their childhood).

So what's happening here?

Well, in the media conference call about the study, I asked the study leaders whether they thought their work showed that Americans are just "mindless religion shoppers." No, they said. Such a description would be unfair in that it would discount the seriousness with which a lot of people take changes in their religious affiliation.

As religion scholar John Green told us, "Americans change religious affiliation often, early and for many reasons."

It's the "many reasons" that intrigue me. No doubt some people -- perhaps most, as the study suggests -- simply drift away from one religion toward another or toward none. And no doubt some people grow to have serious objections to dogma or practice, so they search for a place that is more compatible with where their head and heart is.

But my guess is that in our consumerist culture, lots of folks shop for a religion the way they shop for a house or a pair of socks. As Green said, "We do live in a competitive religious marketplace. In that context, religious leaders have to be competitive."

I think that this often leads to people changing congregations for superfluous reasons. It leads to a lack of commitment to stick with a congregation in trying times because that congregation is in some sense family. It leads to a sense of entitlement -- an entitlement to "be fed," and when people aren't feeling fed, they look for a better religious restaurant.

So if you've changed religious affiliation at some point, can you tell us why?

* * *


A thoughtful atheist writer suggests some reasons religion will continue to be a powerful cultural force in the United States. My own guess is that 50 or 100 years from now the percentage of true atheists (not just the religiously unaffiliated) in the American population will be roughly what it is today. I remember a friend telling me once he tried to be an atheist but kept having lapses of disbelief. On the other hand, people in religious congregations sometimes are reminded that their religion is always just one generation away from disappearing.

* * *

P.S.: I wrote here on St. Patrick's Day about a new publication called the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. I wanted you to know that the inaugural edition of the journal is being made available free online starting today. Click here for that. My first glance through it tells me it looks to be good, solid stuff. And there's an invitation to others to submit articles for the next edition.

* * *

ANOTHER P.S.: From time to time here I've mentioned the excellent films and documentaries offered by Odyssey Networks on the Hallmark Channel. There's another one set to air at 6 a.m. CDT this Sunday. It's from Mennonite Media and is called "Embracing Aging: Families Facing Change." Yes, that's an inconvient time for most of us but that's why many folks have the capacity to tape shows. Besides, the show will be available online on Monday, May 4 at


Yesterday Adamh said: Cole, before you can rest easy in your atheistic faith, you need to brush up on some practical matters like the origin of the universe itself, of life, and the degree to which human reason is reliable.
After all, you don't have that "theory of everything" yet that all the atheists keep promising us.

Me: I have never promised you anything. You have plainly said many times you believe in the imaginary world and do not accept rational thinking.
Adamh: In fact, you can't demonstrate any of the above; all you can do is posture about it and make unsupported claims.
Me: Unsupported claims?! Are you nutz? Everything you believe in is invisible. How convenient. The likes of you sometime say, “prove us wrong.” We don’t have to. Everything you believe in is not there. I don’t have to prove something is not there when it is ‘not’ there. When will you ‘see’ real life? Ever…?
Adamh: And don't pretend, in opposition to Just Thinking, that you think all believes should be respected. I know what you and Iggy say at your meetings, and I know you would do a lot more if you had the political power to do so.
Who ya kiddin, sport? LOL! Coninued:

Me: Iggy and I?. Will you ever get it through your dense head Iggy and I are two different people. That’s the thing with the nonreligious Will, Adamh and jt, we think on our own. And sometimes we get together and have fun discussing the real, natural, world. And yes, discuss about people like you – people who need and desire a supernatural world, which has not a shred of evidence. Why? Because it is all invisible and no facts to prove your mind controlling, all knowing spirit, which loves nothing and doesn’t answers prayers no matter how much you wrinkle your brow in a effort to send telepathic signals.

You know what I say at our meetings? What did I say at our last meeting, Mr Smart Guy. Come on tell us. What did I say?

Adamh: “I know you would do a lot more if you had the political power to do so.”

Me: This is a perfect example of you say you know how I think.. You don’t have a clue any more than you know the mind of your so-called god/jebus.

Who ‘you’ kidding, Handball. LAYS

Thanks, Red for the heads up!

Preacherdj said. Cole,
There really is proof that the Bible is true. That proof is Jesus, who saw the Bible as the Word of God. One might not be inclined to take His word for it, because He ran around saying things like He was God and He would rise from the dead, things that only a liar or a crazy person would say. Unless they were true. Continued:

PreacherDJ: Continued : He validated the truth of His statements about who He is and what the Bible is when He did indeed rise from the dead, an historical fact witnessed by over 500 people. His eleven disciples, those who had been closest to Him for His final three years on Earth, and who had seen Him killed at the hands of the Romans, proclaimed His resurrection unwaveringly to the point of dying for that statement.
That is harder evidence than almost anything you see in the news these days.

Me: First I think people should go back and read Red’s response yesterday to this statement by PreacherDJ.

Are you serious PreacherDJ? Are you sure about eleven disciples? Some evidence. All of it is a story written after his death by people, and who were these 500? Hard evidence? I’m not sure what else to say to you.

Will said, “Susan, there you go again...please stop lying about what I said. I NEVER said you should "shut up" about your personal experiences.
Will said to Susan, “I said you should not use them as a basis for smearing whole groups.”

Me: You are big on this word smearing. You don’t fool me. You just stick to the past, trying to prove Susan and I wrong. But you have never known who we are. You think I am Iggy. And Susan is a set up? Prove it. You are not very smart. Perhaps you will learn who I am –

Lying is a big word for you, too. Even your own religion says you shalt not lie, yet you do. You believe in the imaginary. What else can you lie about? How can people believe anything you say?

Peace For the Sake of Goodness

Dolores Lear

I gave up religion at age 50, when I was led to a High Tech Science Translation of Eternal Human Life After Birth, on Planets and in Spaceships, in Religious Scripture and Myth.

The Lord God of religion, for me, is our High Tech Human Male and Female Clone Ancestors from Space. They do have High Tech Eternal Physical Life After Birth.

We are in their Human Image, and again have High Tech Science, have fiery chariots, and reproduce Human Life in the Lab.

With High Tech, Humans do Know that All Life is made from GODs Elements, visible and invisible.

When Life made from Elements die, the Elements of Physical Life does not die, but returns to GODs Elements.

With the loss of High Tech, Humans in the past called this Dying and going to Heaven to be with God, until we can be born again at the Last Days.

I accept the population explosion of the past 100 years, from 1 Billion to 7 billion, that all people that have lived for the past 6000 years are born again, getting ready for the Judgement Day, with the Return of the Lord God, our High Tech Ancestors.

If not, Humans will blow up their Planet, and all Elements will again return to GOD.

So we will see, if we are Alive at the Judgement Day of Human Caretaking of their Home Planet Earth.

My hope, at 87, is the same as the Christian religion I believed in. Life After Death in Heaven/Elements, until we are made Alive again in those Elements, for the Last Days of Life on Earth.

If not, The Universe elements would also Die, and no Universes.

Dolores Lear

"But my guess is that in our consumerist culture, lots of folks shop for a religion the way they shop for a house or a pair of socks. As Green said, "We do live in a competitive religious marketplace. In that context, religious leaders have to be competitive."

Religion in the USA has changed, since the rise of prosperity during the 1900s.

Along with Prosperity, we had a Sexual Revolution, for the past 100 years, that reproduced an overload of Humans on Planet Earth.

Many countries put their resources in Human and Planet Hate, with Weapons of Massive Destruction, and Pollution of our Earth's Surface and Atmosphere.

Now the effects of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer, is changing Society, with an Unbalanced Planetary Monetary problem.

The shift away from Religion in Good Times, and now with many nations facing bankruptcy, Humans may see a shift back toward religion.

The rise and fall of countries and religions, has been the pattern of Life on Earth, since the Fall of Perfect Human Caretakers Reproduced 'Super'Naturally (by High Tech), to Humans Reproduced by Heterosexual Body birth.

The Overpopulation, Resulted in Human Hate Planetwide, by putting their resources in Weapons of Massive Destruction, and Pollution of our Earth's Surface and Atmosphere.

Now the effects of the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and putting our Resources in Killing, our Human Society has a Planetary Monetary problem, with too many Human Billionaires, and Nuclear Weapons on land and sea.

So What does Religious Love of God, and Love of our Brothers/Sisters on our Home Planet, and our Literal Human Hate and Killing Lifestyle, have to do with God and Religion?


I was raised Episcopalian, and religion was -- still is -- very important to me. As a romantic teenager, I flirted with the idea of having a vocation in the church. But this was before women were allowed to be priests. The only role for me was as a nun (yes there are -- or were -- Episcopalian nuns). But I became more and more disenchanted with the sidelining of women in religious life. I was thrilled when I was a young adult and women were allowed to be Episcopalian priests, but less than thrilled when I saw behavior such as people refusing to take communion from a woman. One day when I entered the cathedral and saw a note in the vestibule informing people that a woman would be serving communion, in case they'd like to attend another service, I went into the sanctuary, said goodbye to the church and -- reluctantly - started on a spiritual journey. To this day, I would like to return to the Episcopal church, but just can't overcome my difficulties with them. I still am not satisfied that I have found a new spiritual home, although I am interested in Process Theology's focus on interactions amongst individuals rather than on things.


From yesterday -- PreacherDJ, I read the article you linked to about global cooling, as well as some of the comments. From what I can gather from a few of the comments, it sounds like we have had these times of cooling in the past -- but that the overall trend is toward warming. It sounds like maybe a three-steps-forward, two-steps-back, kind of movement -- which might mean the warming won't occur as quickly as was originally-predicted, but nevertheless that we are getting warmer.

If this is the case -- if the real truth is that we are getting warmer, only more slowly than was predicted: then I think it still makes sense to move forward with making the changes that can help solve this and other problems. Why relegate it to the back burner again? Why procrastinate? It seems like these changes in amounts and kinds of fuel-production, as well as mankind moving to a more-sustainable way of life, would also help with our pollution and smog problem. Why hold back on a good thing?

Also from yesterday -- I referred to Richard Cizik as the Vice President of the National Association of Evangelicals, but he was really their Vice President for Governmental affairs. And he did later have to step down after all -- but not over his environmental advocacy.

It sounds like he'd been making liberal shifts in other areas as well (i.e. he spoke out in favor of gay civil unions, though I was saddened to hear that he backed down afterwards in response to pressure), and it got to the point where NAE leadership was getting complaints from their actual members who were losing confidence that Cizik was really representing their views in Washington (if you recall, Dobson and the others who tried to get Ciznik ousted for his stance on global warming, weren't even members).

Joe Barone

JoLynne, What a nice comment.

Bill asked, "So if you've changed religious affiliation at some point, can you tell us why?"

My initial response was, My beliefs changed. But then it occurred to me that it was more a case of going back to what had been in my heart since I was a child. I grew up in a very inclusive situation and see God as a very inclusive and loving God. Returning to that belief took me away from what I see as the doctrinaire beliefs of most solely-Christian denominations.


Bill, I guess I've been sharing a whole lot about my religious shift/s already. Some here are even calling my shifting an "online deconversion." I do see Bonnie Erbe's point about missing having a social network -- but in a way I've often found the social aspect of church severely-lacking, because it seemed like conversations pretty much had to be squeezed around all the formal teaching and church-service stuff.

I'd say my shifting started out as parenting-related -- i.e. switching churches because of being told it was immodest to breastfeed wherever my child wanted to breastfeed, and then because of being pressured to leave my child in class when she still wanted me there (and my husband and I weren't willing to go along with this), and then my husband's and my growing concerns about our kids getting pressured to perform.

But at the same time, and I think all throughout, there have been these seeds of skepticism growing, about the whole premise of fear-based religion. I don't believe in punitive parenting -- I see there's a better way: and therefore I believe a God who is greater, wiser, and more loving than me, couldn't possibly be stuck in a mode of having to eternally-punish non-believers.

And, of course, as I've discovered that many of the parents who think like me seem to be Atheist, Agnostic, or non-religious, it just has me wondering where I really am. Not that *none* who think like me are Christian -- though I will say that quite a few of the Christians who think like me on parenting-issues (I have only met Christians like this online) have, like me, also dropped out of church.



"All of it is a story written down after his death by people"

That's your argument against the resurrection? I think with the use of the word "story", you are trying to imply that it was made up. But the people who would have allegedly made it up were willing to die for it. I think I would rather take the consequences of a lie than to hold to the lie and die.



There is a way that seems good to a person, but in the end it leads to destruction. I'm glad you are noticing where your ideology is lining you up. It should say something that your worldview consistently lines you up with those who would oppose not just the God of the Bible, but any god at all.



Scientists (who aren't locked into the religious belief that man is warming the environment) are seeing that it is likely that we are heading toward another ice age. Part of the point here is, the earth goes through cycles, and for us to think we have the power to change those cycles is just pretty arrogant. That is not to say that we don't have a responsibility to care for this planet - not littering and such. But I don't think we'll be altering our orbit anytime soon.


JoLynne, I'm glad you shared some about your journey here! I'd never heard of Process Theology before, so I did a guick google. I agree with them that "being" should not take precedence over "becoming."

And, Joe, I also liked what you said about going back to believing in a more inclusive God.

From yesterday -- I'd like to hear, from anyone who wants to respond, about whether you agree or disagree with what I expressed yesterday, about freedom of speech being the best way to counter harmful beliefs.

Just Thinking

Cole, the rest of us know you are not Iggy, even if adamh and others do not. Iggy's form of seething anger and hatred is much more severe and vapid than yours. But if you don't stop yourself, you could easily foment a perpetual Iggy state of insipid rant, rave and rage. Such things can be contagious, causing depression and promoting self-medication through alcohol and/or drugs. It's a bad road that can come from bad influences. I'd hate to grow up in Iggy's family.

"Peace For the Sake of Goodness." Stick with that, Cole. I don't see you fostering peace between you and anyone these days. You just seem angry at the world. Did you know that anger and hot-tempered behavior can be contagious? Watch who you associate with, Cole. Guard your heart from what is not "goodness."

Proverbs 22
24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man,
do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn his ways
and get yourself ensnared.

Making peace is the opposite of what a hot-tempered man does:

Proverbs 15
18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension,
but a patient man calms a quarrel.

How do you want to be known, Cole? Which of those alternatives qualifies as goodness, Cole? Which will bring you peace, Cole? Guard your own goodness and peace, Cole, because you can't change someone else, and you'll never have peace trying. But you can lead by example.


PreacherDJ, I really think my world view is lining me up with people who want to free themselves from dogma and seek truth. Some of these people are Atheists, and some of us believe we've experienced God reaching out to us, so while we are re-examining what we've been taught, we aren't throwing out our belief in God in the process.

And, actually, when I look at our Christian history, I see some very-controlling leaders who I think were severely-lacking in faith. They acted like preserving the faith (or their particular version of it) was totally "on them" -- as if God lacked the ability to impart truth to anyone else.

I see your point that the earth goes through cycles -- but am not convinced that all our abuses are having absolutely no effect on Earth and her various ecosystems, as well as her/our atmosphere. There's clear evidence that we are destroying our ozone-layer.

And "not littering" goes way beyond just finding the proper receptacles for our trash. We all need to start living more sustainably -- i.e. by switching to a lifestyle where we have less and less throwaway stuff that's not biodegradable, and will just sit in landfills -- and where more of what we use is reusable, and is also biodegradable so that it can eventually return to the Earth.

I've got a long way to go in this respect. And I think the first step is recognizing that we have a problem.

adam harrison

What did I tell you? Susan now has seeds of "skepticism growing".

This is balderdash. It was predicted over two months ago that this what what it was all about. Remember Iggy bragging about posts on the "Ex" Christian site? And how Susan admits she met Iggy at a Darwin day event and was directed to this site?

Her seeds of skepticism were already growing. This is all a stunt, that would have happened sooner had it not been for our exposing the timetable.

Its ironic that Nancy was the first to notice this, back in she Knew it is still a mystery.

Just Thinking


It's good that you seek absolute "truth." How do you find truth? Christians believe that it is the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who guides us in Truth. Jesus said this about the Spirit of Truth: "The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

Truth about God must be revealed, not discerned, Susan. If Truth about God could be directly discerned, then atheists would not argue with you. The thoughts of your neighbor are not known to you, and neither are the thoughts of God, except by His Spirit. Those without the Spirit do not accept things that come from the Spirit. "The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

We cannot follow God without the Spirit: "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."


adamh, it is wrong for you to smear and slander Nancy, who has always been respectful anytime she has referred to me in her posts. I think you are mistaking Patricia for Nancy.

With Patricia, I had tried to share a link with you guys, to a post I'd written over at Kansas City Free Thought, but I messed it up somehow, so that when people clicked on it it looked like I'd been banned from the site or something (I hadn't, and the post was really still there, and I explained how you guys could still get to it if you were interested in reading it).

Anyhow, I guess Patricia was so annoyed by the inconvenience of my link not working, she came back and accused me of being an "Iggy-clone." Poor Iggy, with all his technical-skill I imagine he didn't like being "linked" to someone who could't even post a link properly, LOL.

I suppose this is still Patricia's opinion, that I'm not really Susan, and that Susan is really just another user-name for Iggy. Or else if she's changed her opinion, she's just one of those people who feels okay about bashing someone and then pretending it never happened.

And doubtless adamh or someone will now say that I am "whining for an apology" or something. It's seriously not going to kill me if Patricia never expresses that she's sorry for being so rude for no real reason -- I just have more respect for people who can admit when they're wrong.

It's so funny, adamh, how I've never made any secret of the fact that I met Iggy at a Darwin Day event -- but my sharing about this is "admitting" to it, as if it's some horrid dark sin to meet someone at a Darwin Day event.

And it's too bad, adamh, and shows a real propensity for slander on your part, that you take things I share about my spiritual journey and call them "balderdash." Why can't you change that nasty diaper of yours and quit smearing? And if you turn this last comment of mine back around on me, it will be just one more evidence of your total lack of any of YOUR OWN funny or original things to say.

Dolores Lear

"PreacherDJ. I see your point that the earth goes through cycles -- but am not convinced that all our abuses are having absolutely no effect on Earth and her various ecosystems, as well as her/our atmosphere. There's clear evidence that we are destroying our ozone-layer."

When Christians can accept their Religion, only accepts 6000 years for Life on Earth, Humans can get over the millions of years that Science says Life Evolved on Earth, and the cycles of cold and warm are not possible.

Genesis, records as 6 Days/6,000 years for Colonization of Life on the Planet.

2 Peter 3:8. KJV. "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

6 Days Space Travel Time, equals 6000 years of Life on Earth to Colonize a Planet. It has been 6000 years since, of Life as we Know it. So that makes 12,000 years Life has been on Earth, not millions of years.

During this last 6000 years, the High Tech Noah/Atlantis Society like we are today, caused a Planetary Flood. A Few Humans Saved, had to again repopulate the Earth.

For the past 100 years the population grew from 1 Billion to 7 Billion, and we are again causing a High Tech Planetary Catastrophe, only this time it will be by Fire.

Our Pollution and Nuclear Waste will catch fire and burn off all the Life and everything on it like Mars. And this will finish destroying the Ozone Canopy and Eco System.

6000 years for Colonization and 6000 years to Kill Earth.

All kinds of High Tech 'supernatural' events are in Religion, Myth and History, to explain all the millions of years accepted, even by Christians, which is only 12,000 years, since the Colonization of Earth.

adam harrison

Susan, it absolutely pathetic to read you accusing anyone of slander...that has been your modus operandi against entire groups for the whole time you have been here.

When you stop attacking people, you might have grounds to argue. because what you are pushing IS changed as you go along. Today was the first day you bellached about people who were uncomfortable with you breast feeding in front of them...obviously what you and your child want is the criteria of truth.

And I have never said you actually were Iggy, I said you were working with him. Why would you be offended by that? Are you ashamed of Iggy? I thought you admired him and his attitudes toward children. You should be proud to be a companion of Iggy's, right?

Right, Susan?

But pardon me if I am the thought of YOU complaining about being "slandered."

Red Biddy

That people were willing to die for the Jesus movement is proof of the resurrection ? You can't be serious ?
This is only proof that they were as bamboozled, as many people are now by something that couldn't possibly have happened but wish it had as it give them a chance at immortality.

Bill asked us to give reasons for changing our religious affiliations. I can't give mine as I just opted out when I was a kid shouting "This is an insult to my intelligence !" and never went back - but I was chatting with a women at a humanist group meeting the other day who was a new face to me and I asked her why she was there. Turned out she was a Methodist - loved her church and the friends she had there but felt a complete fraud attending services because she didn't believe "all that religous stuff" anymore. There you have it. One more sheep has left the fold !

Will Graham

Red Biddy, you have given a STRAW MAN version of DJPreachers argument. You can't be serious!

Try again.

As for you "opting out" when you were a kid, how revealing that your childish view of things is not translated into an adult philosphy that consists of rants and insults passed off as argument.

And Susan, you are quite right that Adam mistook Patricia for Nancy...but the point is made. Nancy had you figured out from the very start, and you are now playing your hand.

Without a doubt, however, the predictions that you would delayed the stunt.

So forget it Susan. The cat is out of the bag.

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