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7 reasons Catholics leave church (in Trenton, #1 is sex abuse crisis)
One in 10 Americans is a former Catholic.
March 30th, 2012
01:52 PM ET

7 reasons Catholics leave church (in Trenton, #1 is sex abuse crisis)

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Even though Roman Catholics are the second-largest religious group in the United States, the tradition has seen an exodus of members in recent decades. One in ten Americans is an ex-Catholic.

If ex-Catholics were counted as their own religious group, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

If it weren’t for the infusion of Catholic immigrants, especially from Latin American, the American Catholic Church would be shrinking pretty fast.

A recent study by two college professor tries to get at a simple question: Why are they leaving?

Conducted William J. Byron, a professor of business at St. Joseph’s University and Charles Zech, founder of the Center for the Study of Church Management of Villanova’s School of Business, the anecdotal study conducted in late fall of 2011 processes the opinions of 300 non-churchgoing Catholics in Trenton, New Jersey.

The scholars, working at the request of Trenton’s Catholic bishop, asked parishioners who have drifted away not just why the left, but what church teachings they disagree with and whether they ever truly considered themselves part of the Catholic community.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Though the study paints a picture of a church with some characteristics that rub people the wrong way, the researchers – both at Catholic schools in Pennsylvania – argue that the study presents new ways in which church leadership can reconcile with ex-Catholics.

"We need a more pastoral approach to people," Zech says. "There are two types of issues that appear. One revolves around church beliefs and frankly those won’t change. But we have to do a better job explaining some of the issue that the church might not change and why that is."

The report is based on one particular diocese, but its authors say it gives a good picture of challenges facing the broader church. "I think the same seven items would show up for the most part," in other areas of the country, Zech says.

The 7 biggest reasons Catholics from Trenton are leaving the church, according to the study:

1. The sex abuse crisis

Byron and Zech asked ex-Catholics to cite their main reason for leaving: “If you could communicate directly with the bishop, what would you say?”

The most common answer: the church’s inadequate response to clergy sex abuse. “The bishop’s refusal to list pedophile priests on the diocesan Web site and his non-support of the effort to lift the statute of limitations for bringing sexual abuses cases forward in the courts” did it for me, one man said, according to the report.

Several respondents said they had been victims of sexual abuse by church leadership.

2. The church’s stance on homosexuality

The second most cited reason for leaving the church was that former worshipers felt homosexuals were unwelcome in the church.

As recently as March 9, Pope Benedict XVI denounced what he categorized as the “powerful” gay marriage lobby in the United States. In the same speech he noted these views would be seen as “countercultural” to young people, but told bishops to not back down to “powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage."

When those surveyed were asked if there were any religious beliefs in the Catholic Church that troubled them, a number cited views on same-sex marriage. “The church’s view on gays, same-sex marriage, women as priests and priests not marrying, to name a few,” said one respondent, explaining her departure from the church.

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“Hypocrisy,” said one person. “History of discrimination against women, anti-gay stance, unwelcoming attitude.”

William D’Antonio of the Catholic University of America recently published a study called “Catholics in America: Persistence and change in the Catholic landscape.” found that even though the church and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out against homosexual relationships, only 35% of Catholics surveyed said the church’s opinion on homosexuality is “very important.”

The same survey found that 86% of respondents believe a Catholic “can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church."

3. Dissatisfaction with the priest

About half of those surveyed in the Trenton report were not supportive of the pastor they had left behind.

According to Byron and Zech, words like “arrogant,” “distant,” “aloof” and “insensitive” were all used by respondents to describe their priest.

4. Uninspiring homilies on Sundays

A number of people responded that homilies, weekly Sunday messages from the priest, did not relate or “speak to” them.

“I stopped going regularly because the homilies were so empty,” one respondent said. “And whenever the church wanted to raise money, they dropped the homily and talked money.”

“I would advise the bishop to make training in public speaking mandatory for every priest,” said another. “They should also be trained in how to relate their homilies to the people and inspire them.”

“As much as I wanted to get involved and expand my faith, there were no clear avenues to do that,” replied one person. “So it was just a place to attend Mass. And because attending Mass was a guilt-ridden obligation, I was always alone in a crowd where I knew no one and no one knew me.”

5. Perception that church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics

Politics was a mixed bag, according to the survey.

Though some people wanted the church to become more conservative – “change the liberal-progressive political slant to a more conservative,” said one person – others responded differently.

“Eliminate the extreme conservative haranguing,” said one person. Another respondent said politics and the church shouldn’t mix: “I feel the church should stay out of politics; it should certainly not threaten politicians.”

6. Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried Catholics

Catholicism’s stance on divorce and remarriage were also highlighted, especially by divorced females.

The churches stance on divorce is closely tied to their stance on adultery. Without getting a marriage annulled, any marriage after a divorce is considered adulterous. Therefore, divorced people who have not had their marriage annulled or remarried are not able to receive Holy Communion.

“Please find a way not to exclude me from the Catholic community,” said one 56-year old divorced female. A 59-year old divorced female said she would tell her bishop to “petition the church to expand its view on divorce.”

In November of last year, Pope Benedict XVI responded to a German bishop who questioned the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage. “A pastoral approach which truly wants to help the people concerned must always be grounded in the truth… in the end, only the truth can be pastoral,” the Pope wrote, signaling a reluctance to change church teachings on divorce and remarriage policy.

“Instead of making every Mass a form of humiliation for Catholics who cannot receive communion,” one respondent to the Trenton survey said, “do something like a private blessing at communion time, to include everyone.”

7. The status of women

With the political debate over religious conscience and contraceptive coverage, women’s rights and the church have come to the forefront of debate in American politics. According to the Trenton study, a number of people who have left the church cite a “history of discrimination against women,” as one reason for leaving.

Respondents also took issue with the fact that while other churches allow women to become ordained priests, the Catholic Church does not.

“If the Catholic Church does not change its archaic views on women, it is going to become a religion that survives on the fringe of an open-minded, progressive society,” one person who was surveyed said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Sex abuse

soundoff (1,757 Responses)
  1. ME

    If christians are soo forgiving then why is it when I turn on the TV, the first people I see jumping to conclusions without full evidence and screaming for the persecution of anyone accused of anything are supposedly some of our foremost religious leaders?? You would think that if anyone knew anything about premature persecution it would be them . . . just sayin.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  2. cradle catholic

    No. 6 was simply wrong. Being divorced without remarrying does not affect the predisposition to receive Communion; it is remarrying without annulment. The Church in fact encourages divorced Catholics to remain in the Church, although we're not yet particularly adept at meeting the spiritual needs of these folks, nor generally very good at making them feel as welcome as they actually are. One might remember that other things may from time to time interfere with one's reception of Communion, such as grave sin which remains unrepented and unconfessed. Reception of Communion is, after all, on the honor system. No one thinks a thing of it when fellow members of the congregation do not stand to walk forward to receive–it happens every Mass to various numbers of persons and if anything, they are to be admired for not letting sin isolate them from their faith community as all of us sinners worship together in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I have long wondered why (especially) American Catholics evidence solidarity with fellow Catholics by participating in the communal meal which is the Holy Eucharist, when they often do not profess to believe what is recited at Mass or promulgated from the ambo, and when they otherwise are so obviously not in harmony with the teachings of the Church or its leaders. Why remain in a community with whom they share so little in common, whom they denounce regularly and loudly, and whom they feel are so hideously misguided or even sinful?

    In the meantime, I pray that the former Catholics who have described so much lingering pain in many of these posts will eventually forgive those who have hurt them and will continue to find joy and fulfillment on their personal faith journeys. May I recommend the sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance) as an unparalleled source of grace with which to accomplish this?

    April 2, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Americal 70-71

      and what to they have to do Penance for? they aren't the ones that hurt others. there is nothing wrong with demanding justice. i agree IF it becomes anger/ revenge it could be "sinful."

      April 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer changes lives
    Pray without ceasing

    April 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • christianity is abusive to children.

      Do you do anything else but pray?

      April 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • tap17x

      I hope your continual praying takes so much time that you can't vote or have children. If that's so, I fully support your prayers.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  4. christianity is abusive to children.

    Atheism teaches children to think for themselves.

    April 2, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  5. Christianity abuses young children by telling if they aren't good they

    Ca

    April 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  6. Bob

    Religion is basically a scam. A ruse put on people to do two things:

    1. Control society; and
    2. Make money.

    You can create a religion almost from nothing. Look what L. Ron Hubbard did. He created a religion from a failed sci-fi screenplay! And even as ridiculous as that sounds, people line up to fork over their money to Scientology.

    Rewind the clock to about the year 300 and see what a few people did with some wild stories that were passed down from generation to generation. They borrowed popular myths of the day, such as the Egyptian god Horus, born of a virgin on Dec 25 and visited by three kings. Began preaching with twelve disciples. Crucified and later resurrected. Hey, if it worked with the Egyptian, why not the rest of the world. And so, just as Joseph Smith would do almost 2000 years later, they created a new religion.

    It's still the same scam it always was. Through early indoctrination, brainwashing, rituals, chants, and song, drill the myth into the common people and control them. Use their money to further the cause. It's the same today, whether it be Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, or, yes, even Scientologists. It's all still the same big scam.

    What's different today is that information is easy obtainable. The Dark Ages were called so for a reason–and religion flourished. Not so, today. Thankfully, people are wiping the dust from their eyes and beginning to see the world anew. They are learning to question what was always assumed the truth. They no longer ignore the abuses of the church. They begin to realize just how poisonous religion is to humans. And the more they read their bible, the more it resembles an old book of fairy tales.

    It's time to wake up.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ..

    April 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~More lies. No it doesn't. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      April 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Bob

      Atheism is where everyone starts. Religion is taught. It's a grand delusion based on control through fear. Prayer is like mental masturbation–it makes you feel good, but it really doesn't do anything for anyone else.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Otto

      Praying Is Politically Correct Schizophrenia

      April 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • just sayin

      No one can possibly start as an atheist. To be an atheist you must lie good enough to convince yourself, that takes time and practice

      April 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  8. Indrid Cold

    I hate to break this to you, but you are all nothing more than bit players is a reality and universe that springs forth from my own mind. I am all that is, and you are nothing more than "walk on" characters that fill in the aps in my ultimate reality. When I am gone, you will have never been.

    April 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Yaweh

      I hate to break this to you........but you need a shrink!

      April 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Otto

      So in reality you are just wasting your time posting messages to yourself.....reminds me of prayer.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Lee

      Indrid Cold: I think you mean "...bit players in a reality and universe" not "...bit players is a reality and universe", o great one whose very twinge of a thought springs forth all that is life....maybe on your next go-around you can reinvent grammar so you can actually sound exhaulted instead of ignornant.
      By the way LAME mothman reference, are we supposed to picture an enlarged red moth who can only fly around in the territory of West VA and VA? I'm so scared/sure

      April 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  9. Catherine

    Perhaps I’m a little weird for being a nineteen year old, college student, that goes to church every Sunday and Bible study during the week…but I don’t really care what anybody has to say about that or what anybody thinks about that. I know in my heart that God exists, and I have strong faith in Him and His plan for me, and for everybody. Faith, belief, and grace are not things that you can just force yourself to have or randomly come across…they are things given by God and sometimes people face additional challenges to discover their faith. Two years ago when I was 17 my grandfather had a heart attack and a few weeks after that my mother found out she had a brain tumor, and I had absolutely no faith in anything. I questioned why these things and why other bad things were allowed to happen in the world and what life really means and I eventually came to the conclusion that life is fragile and temporary. Everybody leaves you eventually, material things don’t matter, the only thing that matters is love. To me, God is the ultimate source of love. He will never leave me, He loved me even when I doubted him, and even though He places challenges before me sometimes I know that they serve a purpose. I honestly don’t care if anybody thinks that this is disillusioned or stupid, because I feel in my heart a connection that won’t be broken. Roman Catholicism is how God found me, and I although I don’t agree 100% with some of the things the church says sometimes…that isn’t going to make me stop going to mass and it isn’t going to make me try and grow in my faith and spirituality.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      > Perhaps I’m a little weird for being a nineteen year old, college student, that goes to church every Sunday and Bible study during the week…but I don’t really care what anybody has to say about that or what anybody thinks about that. I know in my heart that God exists, and I have strong faith in Him and His plan for me, and for everybody.

      I have an honest question to ask you. You believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God. The Jews and Muslims disagree, and they have people that "feel it in their hearts" that their version of God is correct too. The only problem is that the Jews, Catholics and Muslims all can't be correct. Keeping that in mind, here's my question. If knowing it in your heart can in fact lead you to the wrong answer, how can you rely upon it as a reason for believing?

      > Faith, belief, and grace are not things that you can just force yourself to have or randomly come across…they are things given by God and sometimes people face additional challenges to discover their faith.

      What if faith was the excuse that the religious gave to hide the fact that they have no evidence for God? Faith isn't good. Like the above, faith can lead you to the wrong answer. If I was a God, with an important message for people and I wanted them to get it, wouldn't I be stupid to rely on faith, given that people who have faith believe all sorts of things?

      > Two years ago when I was 17 my grandfather had a heart attack and a few weeks after that my mother found out she had a brain tumor, and I had absolutely no faith in anything. I questioned why these things and why other bad things were allowed to happen in the world and what life really means and I eventually came to the conclusion that life is fragile and temporary. Everybody leaves you eventually, material things don’t matter, the only thing that matters is love. To me, God is the ultimate source of love. He will never leave me, He loved me even when I doubted him, and even though He places challenges before me sometimes I know that they serve a purpose.

      So God is your security blanket. When life confronts you with situations you don't want to deal with, you believe in a God, in a scenario, whereby the people you love aren't hurting or dead, they're in a better place and/or it's part of that divine plan.

      Isn't that awfully selfish of you? To make up this belief structure to make you feel better about someone else's pain? Isn't the honourable thing to do with them is to share that pain and try to make their final moments better by honestly empathizing?

      > I honestly don’t care if anybody thinks that this is disillusioned or stupid, because I feel in my heart a connection that won’t be broken.

      Glad to see you're taking the position of a intellectual child. "NUH UH. LA LA LA LA LA."

      > Roman Catholicism is how God found me, and I although I don’t agree 100% with some of the things the church says sometimes…that isn’t going to make me stop going to mass and it isn’t going to make me try and grow in my faith and spirituality.

      Then you're not a roman catholic. You don't get to ignore specific parts of what they believe and call yourself that. You're roman catholic light. Same great taste, not quite as holy.

      The problem with people who believe is that most often cannot swallow the entire concept, so they pick and choose and ignore the points they don't like. Here's a few examples of what people ignore in the bible.

      – Prophecy negates free will. You can't have it both ways. Either people have destiny or they have free will. See when Peter denied Jesus three times. Could Peter have in fact not denied Jesus after he predicted it?

      – God created sin. God chose to implement the concept of sin and punish people for it. If God hates sin, why would he make it. If God did not create sin, then God is bound by the rules of sin and therefore not all powerful.

      – Jesus was selfish. Read the woman from bethany. Expensive oils were dumped on Jesus head while the apostiles protested that it should be sold for cash to give to the poor. Jesus' response? "You will always have the poor with you, you will not always have me with you" (paraphrasing). I guess the orphans can eat later.

      – Jesus used divine powers to get more booze for a party. Water to wine miracle. I mean, people were already drunk, but they ran out of wine. I guess I had better use these powers that can cure diseases and do wonderous things to conjure up some more booze. I've got to resurrect this party!

      Believe it all or don't believe any of it on faith. Because if you're going to be honest, those are the only two options you have. Taking only the good is moronic and dishonest to your faith.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Bob

      You are simply brainwashed to believe in something that does not exist. When you were a child, you probably believed in Santa Claus, too. But he's just a mythical cultural icon, like god and Jesus.

      People live their whole lives believing in gods and they usually don't negatively affect others. But, they're still living a dream. They dream of an afterlife, of heaven...or they fear hell. These are also just manmade constructs to keep people following the faith.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Amelia

      Beautifully written.
      Peace and All Good

      April 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      By all means, keep going the the "scrifice" of the MAss. One of these days, maybe it will "take", and Jeebus won't have to keep repeating himself. Your delusional state is understandable. By all means go to bible study. You may find how ridicuculous it really is.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg&w=640&h=360]

      April 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Marianne Johnpillai

      Catherine, I thank the Lord for you giving your young heart to the Him. The Eucharist... the Bread of Life, is what sustains us each day for it is the the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. To those who do not believe there is no sense in preaching with words. Our lives if lived with Christ's love radiating through our actions, then it becomes a true witness to Christ's presence in the world. May you be blessed my friend all the days of your life and be rewarded at the end of it as one who " ran the race, who fought the fight... to the end". I am a sinner who has been graced to be a Catholic. Like you a daily communicant and no matter how " boring" the sermon, or how many priests are abusers or a million other reasons, I will NEVER leave the church for our church alone offers you and me the BREAD OF LIFE! Let us pray for those who have left that they come back into the fullness of faith. God bless you.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  10. Shel Price

    I'm curious about those people who've left the catholic church. For those of you how left, did you go to a new church?

    April 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Otto

      For a while I searched around, but the truth of one version of christianity over any other eluded me. Then I looked at the foundation of christianity and realized it was at its core absurd.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • jj

      Though I spent many hours having religion pushed on me, including 8 years of Catholic school, I have drifted away but still have a certain level comfort in those surroundings...no doubt from the incessant hammering of theology. Other churches? They are all "of people", and "by people". Once I learned to think for myself, how can I accept what others don't know as fact. I watch the news and see a world full of attrocities, many against the helpless, the hopeless...children...and I say to myself "we're on our own...God is there but he's leaving it all up to us". Maybe it's our test. I would like nothing better than the peace of mind I could have from actually believing a priest or other religious person....but that's all they are...a person.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      I left my faith when I was in my early 20's. Basically I critically examined what I was taught and came to the realization that it's retarded. Much like being told vampires exist.

      Read the bible, the whole thing. You get the distinct impression as you read it that it's not divinely inspired, but written by primitive men in a primitive time to create rules for their society. Why would God care about such trivial and stupid things like if you mix fibres in your clothes and if you plant different seeds in the same furrow.

      There comes a point when you realize "Hey, this is all silly."

      April 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  11. treetop45

    First, to MILLER MAN. I wish I had said all that you said. Beautifully put. Just wanted to say thank you. I rather fall in the Homily Group. And YES, I do know it's not a reason, just an excuse I make to myself. I am working on it, and M. Man, thanks for giving me some newly found inspiration.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  12. Reality

    I gave up Catholicism for Lent. So far I have shed 50 years of RCC imposed guilt. Twenty more to go before mythical Easter arrives.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • ThankGodForFaith2012

      How sad are those who have chosen the worship of hate– a rabid dog cabal that needs to, has to, must attack and spew disdain and scorn on those who do believe (2012 year old Christianity is the ultimate, main target–too cowardly to attack any others) in order to make themselves feel better about themselves. This cabal of "I am so intelligent and educated so I don't believe, and they are so stupid, and uninformed so they believe" mentality is known as sociopathic behavior/sociopathic personalities. They worship their own egos, and they worship their idols - the authors of hate and scorn towards belief and believers in God. Their need to proslyetize prolificly on belief boards is sociopathic.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • closet atheist

      @ ThankGod ~~ Don't worry... we think you are ALL a tad bit retarded (not just christians). There is little difference, in my opinion. One imaginary god is the same as any other.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Reality

      Summarizing with a prayer:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (references used are available upon request)

      April 3, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  13. Payers Change Things

    Payers change things. Prayer just wastes time.
    Proven.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Put yer money where yer mouth is and yer mouth where yer money is

      I'm honored that you picked up on this - I thought that it was just a 'throw-away' line when I posted it and I sort of expected lots of flak for it.

      For better or for worse, money talks - prayer mocks (reality). Of course, money is not the *only* thing that talks, but the proof of its changing things is evident.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~Still spreading your lies. No it doesn't. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      April 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  14. Rundvelt

    These are the end results, but not the reason.

    The reason is because the roman catholic church isn't adapting fast enough to meet today's society. A perfect example of this is their stance on condoms. No reasonable person could think that using a condom is a sin. That sort of nonsense is holding the church back.

    The reason people are leaving religion in general is that the average education a person holds in a population is increasing. Belief in the supernatural is difficult when a person knows how to logically reason and think critically about things.

    April 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Miller Man

      The Catholic Church is made up of imperfect human beings including the clergy. To say that nobody follows the rules anyway is intellectually short sighted and inaccurate. The life journey is rarely a straight line. I didn't go to confession for several years. But after I retreat where I reconnected with the faith I go quite regularly. And while I am far from perfect at least the effort is being made. I think this is true for many of us. You just don't know where anyones' faith journey is at any one time. It is not for any of us to judge another.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      > The Catholic Church is made up of imperfect human beings including the clergy. To say that nobody follows the rules anyway is intellectually short sighted and inaccurate.

      I didn't say that. Reading comprehension for the lose. My point was that society is changing and the roman catholic church isn't changing to meet it. That's why people are leaving.

      > The life journey is rarely a straight line. I didn't go to confession for several years. But after I retreat where I reconnected with the faith I go quite regularly.

      Why do you have to ask absolution through a priest? Isn't that silly. Why can't you just ask God for forgiveness? Why do you need a spiritual middle man?

      > And while I am far from perfect at least the effort is being made. I think this is true for many of us. You just don't know where anyones' faith journey is at any one time. It is not for any of us to judge another.

      You completely miss the point of my statement. And why would you journey along your faith. Faith isn't a pathway. Faith leads all sorts of people to the wrong conclusions. Look at buddists, muslims, jews. Look at druids, wiccans and satanists. All of these have "faith" and they all can't be correct. So faith leads people down the wrong path.

      With that in mind, how can you intellectually use faith to journey to some sort of inner truth? I mean, it's more likely to lead you to the wrong answer then the right one. Best case. One religion is correct, some are sorta correct and the vast majority are wrong. Relying only on faith will, just by the odds, cause you to reach the wrong answer.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  15. cooper

    Never understood cathlics it seems that a man is more of God that God is to them *the pope* Having to confess to anotherman confuses me as well knowing the fact that he commits the same sin as you or could it be that he knows that the concept of sin is silly very silly if you beLIEve the God know and sees all so i guess they feell that they have to be apologized to as well.....as far as not marrying that goeas agains the same book they promote i thought adam and eve were ade for each other lol that is until some man came along and thought it better that you be alone during your religious journey but im sure that guy got his rocks of in some way as well but hey im probably wrong about all of what i said for i have no true understanding of catholics i just have my vison from the outside

    April 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  16. John the Guy

    If the devout took the time to look into the jesus christ myth they would find that much of the story was alreadty in the public domain long before his dubious time on earth. The guys writing the gospels probably read the Theogony and plagiarized many of the characteristics attributed to JC. For example, lets look at Dionysus...
    Principle of monotheism.
    Son of God and a mortal woman.
    Raised people from the underworld (dead).
    Performer of miracles, ie. Midas.
    Associated with bread and more often wine.
    Death and resurection of himself.
    Considered God of epiphany and leader of the cult of souls.
    So using the above from Greek mythology, sprinkle in a little walking on water, multiplying bread and fish, turning water into wine, you get the picture. You have the basis for a religious cult. What is amazing is how the shamans/priests managed to sell this to so many people. When you figure in the fact that once the church's gained wealth and power they used every dirty trick, murder, brainwashing, celibacy, etc. to maintain that power. The Golden Rule certainly does not apply to the hierarchy of the church, but feel free to keep theowing your hard earned money on the plate. Faith can be exspensive.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Double R

      How do you explain the fact that most secular and non-secular historians alike do believe that there was an actual person who walked the earth in the 1st century whom they believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. And also there are accounts from secular Roman historians from the 1st and 2nd centuries that speak of the crucifixtion of Jesus by Pontius Pilate, as it occured through biblical accounts. Granted, this is not proof of his divinity, but at least they can prove the life of Jesus... can they prove the life of Dionysus? The funny thing is, there are about four different versions of the birth of Dionysus, with different mothers and scenerios. The don't match. The gospels of Luke and Matthew, both tell the same story of the birth of Jesus, and do not contradict each other. Hmm...

      April 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Otto

      Double R,

      How about a contemporary secular historian to Jesus instead of one 70-200 years later? Not that it really matters, Jesus' divinity is the real question.

      Why don't the other gospels tell of Jesus' birth, according to Christian dogma the birth was a miracle so you would expect the writers would at least touch on it. Born of a virgin and 2 gospels just somehow failed to mention it.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • John the Guy

      I indicated his dubious presence on earth. I am quite willing to accept the possible exsistance of prophets that lived on earth like Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha, Confucious, Bobby Henderson, Brigham Young, I could go on but I believe that list is adequate. The point is which one is the big Kahuna. You can believe that Jesus actually exsisted but can you make the leap to the things he has been said to have done, miracles no less. You may also want to think what the Popes have been all about as they travel around the world in their private corporate jet and wear Prada slippers and sunglasses while homeless children starve on the streets of the cities. It is all about wealth and power, P. T. Barnum knew that, check out some of his sayings.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • I_get_it

      John the Guy,

      P. T. Barnum = Paul (of) Tarsus Barnum!

      April 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Miller Man

      To Quote St Thomas Aquinas
      “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Keep looking John

      April 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      John the Guy,
      satan has you fooled. He has been around way before God sent the prophets and he doesn't lack the cleverness of a lying deceiver. So for him to run ahead of God's time, to make himself look like an original is no brainer. There ar many man made myths, built upon the foundation of straw, but there is only one truth and it is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God,, sent to declare and explain God, the creator who gave us life. He is the way, the truth and life, and in Him all things consist. You can play your Russian roulette game, but you have only one chance. satan knows it, and he is working hard to keep you humming to his drumming! only a fool don't consider it seriously!

      April 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Jesus

      "There ar many man made myths, built upon the foundation of straw, but there is only one truth and it is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God,, sent to declare and explain God, the creator who gave us life. '

      Seeing as only 33% of the people on this planet even buy into your version of religion. Then you must have on sick god if the rest of the population is going to hell. But, guess what that's not the case because your god and satan don't exist because you have NO proof of it.

      April 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • John the Guy

      Get over your self Prism1234.
      There are many religions around the world that don't buy into your beliefs. Ghandi said something like, I like the idea of Jesus Christ, I just can't stand christians. You resemble that remark.
      I am a follower of the Pastafarian religion. We have no dogma, strictues or satan and no one has lost their lives for believing or not, the most peaceful of all religions. You can keep you fire and brimstone and I will thrive on my pasta and beer. RAmen with blessings from the FSM.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Hey, suit yourself, you make your own bed, you'll sleep in it!
      Each one of us has an appointment pending, which none of us will miss! Time will tell all things, and every mouth will stop. Let YHWH be true, and every man a liar!

      April 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • WASP

      @prism: ok what part of there is no heaven and no hell for atheists do you not grasp? plus if your god sacrificed himself to himself to pay for our "sins" then shouldn't the payment have been paid in full thus meaning no need for an end of the world? one more thing the definition of "apocalypse (Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis; "lifting of the veil" or "revelation") is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted."
      nothing in that meaning for destruction of humans is there? plus if you look up Armageddon (from Hebrew: הַר מְגִדּוֹ‎, Har Megiddo, lit. Mount Megiddo; Greek: Ἁρμαγεδών Harmagedōn,[1][2] Late Latin: Armagedōn[3]) is, according to the Bible, the site of a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario.
      The word Armageddon appears only once in the Greek New Testament, namely in Revelation 16:16. The word may come from Hebrew har məgiddô (הר מגידו), meaning "Mountain of Megiddo". "Mount" Megiddo is a Tell on which ancient forts were built to guard the main highway, the Via Maris, which connected Ancient Egypt with Mesopotamia.
      so i would say you're wasting your life and our time, but enjoy your "end of the world" lmfao

      April 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Hey, WASP, I think you're wrong thread! We're not talking HERE about Armageddon. There is another thread, I think you've got it confused!

      April 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • John the Guy

      You know prism1234 I could really get into what you guys believe if I didn't have a conscience and could excuse any kind of behaviour by asking your Jesus Christs forgiveness. I am talking about the pedophile priest or some phony evangilist like, say, Jimmy Swaggert, who stands in front of the believers and begs god's and the congragations forgiveness. Of course you can always pop in and confess their sins and then go out and sin again, then back to confession, sounds like a sweet deal to me. I wonder if your god will so easily forgive all the sins perpatrated by the Catholic church over the millenium, a truly forgiving god. Anyway, I would again invite you to throw of the shackles of the church and join the Pastafarians, it is not to late for you to become rational. RAmen blessings from the FSM

      April 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      John, I can see why you could get "into it", but I think you misunderstand what Christianity really is. Because just for you to say that "excuse any kind of behaviour by asking your Jesus Christs forgiveness" or that we can always pop in and confess our sins and then go out and sin again, then back to confession... But it is not so, not by a long shot!
      So many people just assume that they know, but their understanding is amiss!
      But this is the way it is John! Jesus said that wheat and weeds would grow in His Church side by side. he said not to pull out the weeds, lest the wheat would be pulled out with them. But HE knows who are His and who are not. He also said you shall know them by their fruit. And those who are truly His know the voice of their Shepherd and will not follow an impostor. Catholic church is not given any special privileges, and is not the mouthpiece of God. Through the centuries it has ruled over the people with rod of deceit, withholding the Truth fro the people . It has the blood of many innocent , precious souls on its hands. To this day it is still deceitful, withholding the truth from people. But every human organization is like that.
      Your problem and of many people like you , is that you look at the people, the leaders and allow them to shape your view of who God is, and what His nature and character is. But He has designed it that way, that no man will ever know Him unless he seeks HIM, for himself.
      Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the living God, who came to earth to declare Him and explain Him. If you can disregard His testimony because you see the falseness in those who claim Him, but don't know Him, then you have really been beguiled. You may feel good about yourself, believing you're free, but your own heart has decided you, becaue you believe what you WANT TO BELIEVE, mainly that you won't be nor have to be accountable to anyone. But when you stand before your Creator, without the blood of Jesus applied to you through faith in His finished work on the cross, you will have no covering for your sins, and will not be able to stand before holy God. There is no other way but through Christ Jesus, all others who came before Him, or after Him were and are impostors, false shepherds. On the day of your appointment none will be able to stand in the gap for you, none but Christ, whom you rejected. You can believe it or not, the fact is still the same, and it will so happen. The Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Truth testifies to this fact. If you reject His testimony, this is waht the Scripture calls unpardonable sin. Because every sin can be forgiven, except the rejection of Jesus Christ of whom the Spirit of Truth testifies. That's how it goes, friend. How you treat the he words written to you here will be testimony either for you or against you. These are not my words, but His, because on the question that Christ asked those of His day and is asking you now" "Who do you say that I AM?" hangs the destiny of your soul in the balance.

      P.S. My post to Amelia on page 26 explains more in detail about what does it mean to KNOW God, in contrast to belonging to a man made church organization.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • closet atheist

      @ Prism.... never mind the non-believers... we know we're going to hell. But what about the believers of various other faiths? Are they condemned to your hell simply because they were born in another part of the world and indoctrinated into a different religious faith?

      April 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @closet atheist
      There is an answer to this question. If you are really sincere and want to know, I'd be glad to talk to you. But I am aware that most of the time such questions are asked with wrong motives/intentions and a pre-made up mind. I just don't need to waste my time!

      April 2, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  17. Chris

    As an Eastern Orthodox Catholic, I would like to remind all the "lapsed Catholics" that not all catholics are Roman catholic. A Cathic church does exist that has avoided many of the issues of the Roman catholic Church. Our priests are married, divorse is not the issue it is in the Roman Cathoic Church, contracption is not an issue, and we seem to avoided the issue to child abuse (Maybe due to the priests wives) etc., yet we are very much Catholic. In short, because something is an issue for the Roman catholic Church does not mean it it applies to all Catholics.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things..

    April 2, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Otto

      Prayer makes you delusional.....

      April 2, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • just sayin

      @ Otto : try talking to the real God

      April 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Otto

      Try proving which god is real.

      just sayin.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~Still spreading your lies. No it doesn't. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      April 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • just sayin

      prayer changes things
      yes it do

      April 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Otto

      Just sayin,

      Pray to your god to show you real, indisputable evidence that prayer works so your can show all the heretics prayer changes things for the better.....than get back to me.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • christianity is abusive to children.

      Atheism lets children think for themselves. Jesus threatens to torch people and burn them for eternity. I choose atheism for my kids.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  19. AtheismIsCrap

    God Is Great!

    April 2, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • WASP

      @AIC: nice to see you showing your ignorant true colors, "prayer changes nothing" "athiesm isn't healthy" lmao

      April 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Bob

      "God is great?"

      Maybe...to the delusional. But that's no different than a drunk saying "Booze is great."

      April 2, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • christianity is abusive to children.

      God isn't real, ding dong. 😉

      April 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  20. dawn

    Reason I left. Nobody follows the rules anyway. I converted to Catholicism as an adult so maybe the rules were more clear and fresh in my brain but I got tired of being one of only 2 or 3 people at confession each Saturday and yet everyone jumps up to get communion on Sunday. I know at least half of those people miss mass or tell a white lie or do something during the week worth confessing according to their own rules. If nobody else plays by the rules it starts to make you feel like something not worth being a part of.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Gloria Guzman

      The majority of Catholics don't play by the rules and I am included in those. Catholics use their bibles according to their perspective views. My view on confession is why am I to go to a man and confess my sins to him. When in reality he is going to pray to God himself and pray for my soul's forgiveness. WHY not do this yourself and pray to God for your sins and ask him DIRECTLY to forgive you. I have been doing this for many years and I will tell you honestly, that God has been with me and has been taking care of me. Your faith in God is what counts...not the rules. Remember, God is a forgiving God and as long as you live right and believe in him...he will hear and bless you!

      April 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • J.P.

      Gloria, it was only until recently I realized that self-confession to God will not work as one would expect. Consider this, if someone is unwilling to confess their sins to another 'lesser' being and admit them in the open, how truly remorseful are you for the sins that you have committed? It's also means that you are not ready to admit these sins before God. It's easier to pray and ask God for forgiveness for the things you've done, but it's a lot harder to look at a person, especially your priest, whom you should look to for spiritual guidance, and confess your sins and faults. I believe the point of this sacrament is not only to be forgiven for one's sins, but humility. I am not saying you should not ask God for forgiveness because he is a forgiving and loving God, but for anyone to be truly forgiven, one must forgive one's self.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • WASP

      @jp:"it was only until recently I realized that self-confession to God will not work as one would expect. Consider this, if someone is unwilling to confess their sins to another 'lesser' being and admit them in the open, how truly remorseful are you for the sins that you have committed?"

      here something to think about JP. what better way to keep the church in your life then by setting up a mandatory confessional clause in their teachings. during the evolution/revolution of the many christian belief systems the pope noticed a few things, one the priests were passing on their money and possessions to thier family, easy fix.....no more marriage for priests;thus all money goes to the church when a priest dies. second seeing that other versions of christian belief allowed for a direct follower/god relationship thus lowering their coffers....easy fix make a mandatory middle man to god situation and thus the church keeps it's money flowing; hint might be why the catholic faith outside their war campaigns is the richest faith in the world.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.