A majority of Americans who have abandoned organized religion "gradually drifted away," a new Pew Forum poll says. The finding surprised experts who expected policy debates or scandals—like clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church—to fuel people's rejection of a faith. But overall, the survey found Americans more likely to switch religions than drop faith altogether.
A follow-up to a Pew survey on religion last year, the poll raised the number of Americans who have changed faith—from 44% to 56%. It said people leave for a variety reasons, including relocating, disliking a pastor, or latching onto a new one, CNN reports. One expert called the high turnover a "big indictment" of religion, but a surprising number of unaffiliated Americans—about 30%—said they were still open to organized faith.
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