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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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When Pew researchers set out last year to map the U.S.'s religious landscape with a groundbreaking survey of more than 35,000 people, they expected fairly straightforward answers to questions about individual religious affiliations. (The survey included more detailed questions about religious beliefs and practices than have been asked in past censuses; the 2010 census will not ask about religion at all.) What the Pew researchers didn't anticipate is that fully 44% of Americans have changed faiths at least once. Some converted from one religion or denomination to another; others grew up with no tradition only to adopt one as an adult; still others left their childhood faith and found themselves with no religious home.
"It was a phenomenon," says Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum. "We needed to make greater sense of it." So the researchers followed up with more than 2,800 of the original respondents who had reported changing religious traditions and asked why they had decided to leave and/or join a faith.
The answers were so varied that analysts nearly ran out of codes to categorize them. "The U.S. has an unmatched religious dynamism," explains Lugo. "It's an open religious marketplace as well as a very competitive one. This is the supermarket cereal aisle." Without an established state religion, all faiths can freely exist in the U.S. but must compete for adherents in order to survive.
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