Skip to comments.New survey shows Protestants’ loyalty flagging
Posted on 01/15/2009 9:50:50 AM PST by NYer
.- A new survey of denominational loyalty reports that churchgoing Catholics are significantly less likely than churchgoing Protestants to change denominations.
Six out of ten active Catholics would only consider attending a Catholic church, while about 30 percent would prefer attending a Catholic church but would consider others, the survey says. Eleven percent of churchgoing Catholics reportedly do not show a specific preference for attending a Catholic church.
By contrast, only 16 percent of Protestant churchgoers will only consider attending a church of their present denomination. About 51 percent express a preference for one denomination, while 33 percent do not have any preference for a specific denomination.
Phoenix-based Ellison Research released the results of the poll on Monday.
The good news for the Catholic church is that six out of ten Catholics will not even consider attending church in any other denomination, which is far higher than for Protestants. The bad news, of course, is that four out of ten active Catholics would at least be open to another denomination, even though most would prefer to remain in the Catholic Church, commented Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research.
The survey of a representative sample of 1,007 American adults included 471 respondents who regularly attend worship services at a church broadly considered to be in the Christian tradition, categorized into Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, and Orthodox.
Respondents who attend worship services at least once a month were first asked the specific denomination of the church they attend most often. This distinguished Southern Baptist from Free Will Baptist, for example.
The respondents were then asked what role that denomination would play if they could no longer attend their current church, in the case it closed or the respondent moved.
Sellers explained that there may be additional factors affecting the difference between Catholic and Protestant denominational loyalty.
Its not as though there are two hundred different Roman Catholic denominations, he said. On the Protestant side, there are scores of different denominations, with some of them fairly similar in practice and theology.
The story of this research is that many Protestants may not see a lot of difference among some of these denominations, Sellers said.
For comparison, Ellison Research asked Americans about their loyalty to certain brands in more than 32 categories of products and services. Respondents expressed between about 10 to 20 percent exclusive loyalty to brands like automobiles or toothpaste, while between about 60 to 70 percent reported a brand preference.
Respondents were especially loyal to toothpaste, with 22 percent saying they use one brand exclusively.
It may not be lack of loyalty so much as it is the presence of so many options that is causing Protestants to be about as loyal to a brand of toothpaste or bathroom tissue as they are to their church denomination, Sellers remarked.
Among all churchgoing respondents, three out of ten said they would only consider attending one denomination, while 44 percent said they have one preferred denomination but would also consider others. Eleven percent reported a small number of denominations they would consider.
According to the survey results, denominational loyalty does not vary significantly by gender, household income, age, or type of community. It does vary by race or ethnicity and by region of the United States.
Hispanic churchgoers, who are majority Catholic, are the most intensely loyal to their denomination. African-Americans reportedly have the least denominational loyalty.
Denominational loyalty is highest in the Northeast U.S., where Catholicism is more common than elsewhere in the country. Such loyalty is lowest in the South, where Catholicism is less common.
People who report attending a non-denominational church, the Ellison Research survey says, are actually more committed to remaining non-denominational than churchgoers in Protestant denominations are to staying within their denomination. About 29 percent of non-denominational churchgoers will only consider a non-denominational church, while 32 percent express a preference for a non-denominational church.
Which means 40% are still lacking in good catechesis about their faith.
It must take a lot willpower to be a loyal Protestant.
I believe just the opposite may be true. It is as a result of willpower that protestant churches have branched off into ... what is the present number? 35,000+? ... denominations. The one fidelity they all share is belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
But they can't all agree on what He said, or meant when He said it.
Could it possibly be because there are fewer brands of Catholicism than of Protestantism?
In my experience, as a Protestant, I see too many people who don’t bother to understand their particular denomination’s teachings. This might actually require reading the bible and (gasp) additional literature related to that particular denomination’s teachings. People don’t bother to have convictions anymore b/c it takes too much effort. Most people just go where the music is upbeat and there are tons of programs for their children.
Protestants are more apt to see religion as something to feel comfortable with, a social phenomenon and if it doesn't validate them they will just move on to a church where they are more "comfortable."
There is only one brand with 22 different flavors.
"The Catholic Church is the work of Divine Providence, achieved through the prophecies of the prophets, through the Incarnation and the teaching of Christ, through the journeys of the Apostles, through the suffering, the crosses, the blood and the death of the martyrs, through the admirable lives of the saints. When, then, we see so much help on God's part, so much progress and so much fruit, shall we hesitate to bury ourselves in the bosom of that Church? For starting from the Apostolic Chair down through successions of bishops, even unto the open confession of all mankind, it has possessed the crown of teaching authority." - St. Augustine of Hippo ("The Advantage of Believing" 4th century A.D.)
If it makes you more comfortable to believe that, by all means do.
>> Protestants are more apt to see religion as something to feel comfortable with, a social phenomenon and if it doesn’t validate them they will just move on to a church where they are more “comfortable.”
The interesting question would be, how many Protestants would consider converting to the Catholic Church, and vice versa, if that were the only option in town. As it is, this survey is no news at all, since obviously switching between Protestant demonimations is not exactly a life-altering event in most cases.
As a side remark, we Catholics tend to exaggerrate the importance of “30,000” denominations in Protestantism. My observation is that the majority of them are quite interchangeable for a Protestant. A significant divisions are liturgical vs. low church and calvinist vs. arminian. My intuitive feeling is, most Protestants have high loyalty to either of these four groups, but would switch inside the group rather painlessly.
Another factor is that a Catholic would make a distinction between visiting a Protestant denomination — even as often as weekly — and converting to Protestantism. I remember a conversation we once had with a new neighbor down the street, a couple with grown children. “We are Catholic. But we mostly go to the Calvary chapel. It is kind of nondenominational. We like it”. But when the husband passed on, the funeral was in a Catholic Church; they moved, and a year later I bumped into the widow in a supermarket. “Tell your wife, I returned to the Church”, she said. In other words, the identity remained Catholic all along, — the inclusive, non-credal Calvary chapel environment did not seem to challenge that.
>> It must take a lot willpower to be a loyal Protestant.
No more than it does to be a Catholic.
It seems to work that way with probably 2/3 of the Protestants I know and I live in a mostly Protestant town.
IMHO (and not being Catholic, someone correct me) Catholics by and large believe that the Catholic church is the only legitimate denomination/church. So, of course they aren’t going to be open to switching denominations when their basic belief is that there is only one denomination to begin with.
Protestants believe that any group of believers can get together and form a legitimate denomination/church (”For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”)
I don’t what to start a debate about what is/isn’t a legitimate church, just to point out that the suvey results are predictable based upon the fact that Catholics and Protestants generally have differing opinions on the subject.
>> In my experience, as a Protestant, I see too many people who dont bother to understand their particular denominations teachings.
Perhaps that is because Protestantism is based on the teachings of Christ ... not the teachings of any particular denomination. Denominational distictions are generally minor, peripheral, and unrelated to the true essential doctrines of Christianity.
People don’t want to sweat irrelevant details — nor should they. They want the big picture. They want a moral compass. They want the truth — not petty interdenominational disputes and bickering.
What differentiates Baptists from Methodists is ultimately irrelevant to true Salvation. Sometimes people get so focused on irrelevant minutae that they lose the big picture ... glad to see that Protestants generally aren’t.
>> This might actually require reading the bible and (gasp) additional literature related to that particular denominations teachings. People dont bother to have convictions anymore b/c it takes too much effort. Most people just go where the music is upbeat and there are tons of programs for their children.
>> The Catholic church teaches that you only reach heavan through their church.
Protestantism teaches you can only reach Heaven through Christ — accepting His sacrifice, and the grace of God. Sounds more plausible to me.
And therefore there is no salvation outside of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that He founded.
>> And therefore there is no salvation outside of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that He founded.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
For a group of human beings to declare that they are the sole route to Salvation is simply not in accordance with Biblical teachings. Christ is the route to Salvation — and there is simply no singluar human conduit to Christ.
I've been both. I assure, it's not so.
Catholics have a secret weapon.
The Catholic Church teaches nothing of the sort. Who told you this?
And therefore there is no salvation outside of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that He founded.
That doesn’t compute. Christ is the way — not the Church. You’re equating the Church with Christ. In my book, that’s idolatry. Christ’s sacrifice — and faith in Him — that is what saves. Nothing else.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Says nothing about the Church.
Individual, nominal Catholics may disagree on certain things, but the Church's teaching is cohesive.
Among Orthodox Catholics, well, by definition...there is agreement on matters of faith and morals.
Faith is essential but it's not correct to say it's sufficient.
Well, I suppose it is if you're a Protestant.
Not interested in debating this. You know the scriputes: "Faith without works is dead."
No question, Christ is present whenever the faithful gather.
Still, the purpose of the Church is to crush the gates of hell (Mt. 16:18), that is, to bring men to salvation, and Christ did not offer but one baptism (Mk 16:16; 1 Pe. 3:21) and didn’t start but one Church (Acts 2:2-5).
Apparently annalex (presumably a Catholic) disagrees ...
“And therefore there is no salvation outside of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that He founded.”
Perhaps your dispute is not with us Protestants, but with fellow Catholics.
See my previous post. Indeed, we are saved by grace alone, that’s why we go to Church.
NYer and I do not disagree. Read the article I posted a link to. Salvation is through the Catholic Church alone, but not necessarily through the formal membership in her.
Everyone validly baptized is baptized Catholic.
I stand by my earlier post.
>> Still, the purpose of the Church is to crush the gates of hell (Mt. 16:18), that is, to bring men to salvation, and Christ did not offer but one baptism (Mk 16:16; 1 Pe. 3:21) and didnt start but one Church (Acts 2:2-5).
Christ never said that Salvation can be gained through any specific CHURCH, but through Him alone. Salvation can be gained with no church at all — even in areas where no Catholic or Protestant church exists.
I do agree that Christ started one Church — the Christian church. That church is comprised of those that follow Him, His teachings, and accepted His Salvation. I’ve seen no evidence at all that the Catholic church has a monopoly on Christ’s teachings.
>> Everyone validly baptized is baptized Catholic.
Absolute nonsense. “Catholic” is not a synonym for Christian. I was validly baptized — and am NOT a Catholic. I do not acknowledge any authority for the Catholic heirarchy (including the Pope) or the Catholic Church itself.
The edicts of the Vatican are nothing more than learned theological opinions, and carry no more authority than the teachings of my own Pastor. I do not worship Mary, I do not believe the Catholic Church is infallible, and I disagree with several official Vatican positions.
Right. That is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is also Orthodox. The local Churches in various degrees of communion between them, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and possibly pre-Chalcedon Oriental Churches, that maintained valid apostolic succession and have sufficient unity of doctrine. The Protestant communigty of faith are not, strictly speaking, churches. Protestants can get sanctification through their study of the Bible if they maintain a desire for Christian unity and seek communion with the Catholic Church even as they are culturally prevented from obtaining it. This is their chance of salvation.
On the other hand, a Catholic who loses the communion through sin goes to hell despite his nominal Catholicism. Like I said it is a complex doctrine.
I’m glad your experience has been different from mine. I have spent my entire life in a minister’s family serving in several churches in different regions. This is what I see.
**Perhaps that is because Protestantism is based on the teachings of Christ ... not the teachings of any particular denomination. Denominational distictions are generally minor, peripheral, and unrelated to the true essential doctrines of Christianity.
People dont want to sweat irrelevant details nor should they. They want the big picture. They want a moral compass. They want the truth not petty interdenominational disputes and bickering.**
I agree. I currently work at a church - a different denomination from the one I attend - we know the theological differences and respectfully agree to disagree. However, we do agree on the important stuff. However, it is important to have some grasp of your particular denominations teachings. I have had discussions with many people who, when told about a particular issue said “I don’t believe that.” They were unaware that the statement they disagreed with was central to their church’s theology. My point is that people take too much for granted w/o doing the research and finding out for themselves what their church believes and teaches.
Writing it doesn't make it so. If you were baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, you are validly baptized and, if you so decide, join the Catholic Church, you will not need to be rebaptized.
I do not worship Mary
Depends on what you mean by "worship." If you mean by adoration due only to God, Catholics do not worship Mary either.
I was validly baptized and am NOT a Catholic
But you were at the moment of baptism. Since you do not practice the Sacraments of the Church (you could do so as Orthodox too, by the way), you fell off at some point following your baptism.
>> Faith is essential but it’s not correct to say it’s sufficient. Well, I suppose it is if you’re a Protestant. Not interested in debating this. You know the scriputes: “Faith without works is dead.”
Faith is the only essential element. Works are evidence of faith — but it is from the faith, not the works, that Salvation is achieved. No amount of works can create Salvation.
there were three things that remain, according to scripture.
>> Disagree if you will, I am telling you what the Catholic teaching is.
The Catholic teaching is wrong. And, ultimately “Catholic teaching” is irrelevant, particularly when contrary the teachings of Christ.
>> But you were at the moment of baptism.
No, I wasn’t. I was a Baptist.
>> Since you do not practice the Sacraments of the Church (you could do so as Orthodox too, by the way), you fell off at some point following your baptism.
The real question is — does one worship Christ or does one worship the Catholic Church?
“Sacraments” are not the path to Salvation — Christ is. There are no hoops to jump through, no contrived Catholic formalities that must be kept, no symbolic gestures that must be met — only Christ’s Salvation.
The Catholic teaching disagrees. As St. James explaines in his letter, both faith and works of charity are necessary for salvation. You can speculate that faith is perhaps primary in that, in the same sense as an egg is primary to chicken, but both are necessary. St,. Pual says the same thing in Romans 2. When St. Paul seems to deny the salvific role of works, he is talking of works done for a temporal reward or under a legal obligation, and especially the works of the Hebrew law.
That’s your opinion. I gave you the mind of the Church, in accordance with the scripture and unchanged for 2,000 years.
Of course we worship Christ: we offer Mass every day. You don’t.
>> I gave you the mind of the Church, in accordance with the scripture and unchanged for 2,000 years.
The “mind of the Church” is ultimately the collective minds of men as fallible as you and I (spread out over a millenium or two). I see no reason to give those men’s opinions any more credence than I give anyone else’s.
Its probably closer to 1,500 years — and it isn’t necessarily in accordance with Scripture.
>> Of course we worship Christ: we offer Mass every day. You dont.
Daily Mass does not necessarily mean that one is worshiping Christ rather than the Catholic Church (and the edicts of its heirarchy). The edicts and interpretations of the very fallible men at the Vatican is not the final authority on Christian doctrine.
I left my church recently. I was raised in the Congregational church, but when it become the UCC, things started to change. It took quite awhile but I feel that I didn’t leave the church, it left me.
What did it for me was the sermon on the polar bears dying because of global warming & the weekly prayer where all the military killed in Iraq and all the Iraq civilian killed with a plea for peace.
I have NO problem praying for our brave soldiers who have lost their lives defending our country.
I do have a problem when the prayer is a transparent cover for the clergy’s anti-war stance.