Skip to comments.Did you know that Atheists have the lowest retention rate of any “religious” group? (from CARA)
Posted on 07/09/2012 1:47:41 PM PDT by NYer
It is widely thought that Catholics are terrible in retaining members, and that Catholics are leaving the Church in droves.
It is a fact that there are about 22.5 million people in the U.S. who were baptized and raised Catholic, but who no longer self-identify as Catholic. A huge number to be sure.
But to be fair, the Catholic Church is huge to start with. There are 68 million Catholics in the US (in 2011), a number that dwarfs the second place finisher, Southern Baptists who report 16 million. Then come Methodists (7.6 million), then Mormons (6.1 million), etc., et al.
In other words, the biggest Christian Church by far is the Catholic Church and the second biggest Christian denomination by far is “Former Catholics.” Some, most actually, leave for nothing, others join other denominations, mostly Evangelicals, of many varieties.
But while our overall number of drifters and those who have departed is large, our actual rate of retention ranks significantly higher than any Protestant denomination.
Over at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) blog there is a significant amount of data presented [HERE]. Among the data is the Table at the upper left. It will be seen that Catholics retain 68% of those baptized and raised in the faith. This number is well ahead of all Protestant denominations, and as you can see, the Jewish people, Hindus, Muslims, Mormons and Greek Orthodox rank ahead of us in retaining members.
But take a special look at that number at the bottom of the pile, yes the very bottom. Atheists “retain” only thirty percent of their “flock.” To quote the CARA blog: And if you think it is challenging to be a Catholic parent, try being an Atheist parent! Some 70% of Americans raised to believe God does not exist end up being a member of a religion as an adult (about one in five former Atheists drift off to become an open-minded agnostic or None).
N.B this number reflects only those raised as Atheists. A large number of Atheists in this Country are “made” in the sense that they were raised to believe but now are Atheists. It remains to study how many of them remain atheists and for how long.
But as for those who are raised Atheist, the vast majority of whom later reject that atheism, Wow, and what a relief too.
Why? I remember the venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen observing many years ago that “Atheism is acquired.” In other words, no one is born an atheist, and atheism is not natural to the human person. Even the most casual observer of the human scene must accept that belief in God, is a natural and ubiquitous human trait. It therefore makes sense that Atheism, while a phase many pass through, it not usually an enduring state. We are spiritual by nature and “wired” to see beyond the merely physical, to the metaphysical, beyond the merely material to the mystical.
The catechism of the Catholic Church says,
So there it is, we were made to know God, and God never stops calling! And in our infinite longings (something a finite world cannot give), and the deep drives in us toward goodness, beauty, truth, justice and the search for ultimate meaning, it makes sense that Atheism has a hard time holding the day.
Atheism is not our natural state, it is an acquired malady, a woefully, reductionist, materialist and inadequate explanation for us who are wired for the spiritual, the mystical, the eternal; yes, wired for God Himself. 70% of Atheists reject it, for some form of faith.
Therefore, do not give up, when it comes to evangelizing those who call themselves atheists. Stay in the conversation, even with the most militant. For remember militancy is often a sign of inner struggle. Remember too, they are made to know God, wired for the spiritual, and God is calling in innumerable ways.
Let me know your own thoughts at why Atheism has such a low “retention” rate.
Makes sense - as the saying goes, when you believe in nothing, you will believe anything.
Besides, the vast majority of atheists I meet have never really thought through their atheism. Most are just angry at their mommies or daddies or some authority figure somewhere in their childhood.
Agnosticism is logically defensible.
Proclaiming that you KNOW there is no God is not.
“Atheists don’t believe in God. But the Devil does’’.— Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.
I’m back and it was freeper Catholics who did it!
Atheism retention rate is even worse after they die.
Encouraging for those of us related to Atheists. Saying prayers to St. Monica right now!
Agreed, agnostics only state that they lack sufficient evidence of the existence of the Divine. That’s fine.
Now, let’s hear from all of our happy well adjusted conservative FReeper atheists out there.
Thanks, peach. Free Republic has done much good in this world, as we all know. But drawing people back to the Church is almost...dare I say it...a miracle?
Given that a person's mind is what defines them as being something different then a bag of chemicals, I'm not surprised most eventually turn from the view that the universe is absent Mind.
Seems that way to me...and I am so glad you are home.
That, too, is not surprising. A Catholic gone Protestant will either lose his faith altogether or come back to the Church, but he is very unlikely to stay Protestant. It's a faith without an independent attractiveness.
Well, I would say that certainly seems like a miracle. I am a plain ole Protestant, but welcome home.
Chesterton on God and atheists: "If there were no God,there would be no atheists."
Chesterton on God and atheists:
"If there were no God,there would be no atheists."
The Catholic Church
In truth the Church is too unique to prove herself unique. For most popular and easy proof is by parallel; and here there is no parallel.
-—— G. K. Chesterton, THE EVERLASTING MAN, p. 85
I'm not sure why I should care. If I were the only atheist in the world, or one of five billion atheists, my opinions about the existence of God would be the same.