I’m doing some research on the local church and what causes people to leave it, and I ran into this study from April 2009 about Changes in religious Affiliation in the U.S.
From that report:
Catholicism has suffered the greatest net loss in the process of religious change. Many people who leave the Catholic Church do so for religious reasons; two-thirds of former Catholics who have become unaffiliated say they left the Catholic faith because they stopped believing in its teachings, as do half of former Catholics who are now Protestant. Fewer than three-in-ten former Catholics, however, say the clergy sexual abuse scandal factored into their decision to leave Catholicism.I strongly recommend that you read the whole thing, even if it is old news to you.
In contrast with other groups, those who switch from one Protestant denominational family to another (e.g., were raised Baptist and are now Methodist) tend to be more likely to do so in response to changed circumstances in their lives. Nearly four-in-ten people who have changed religious affiliation within Protestantism say they left their childhood faith, in part, because they relocated to a new community, and nearly as many say they left their former faith because they married someone from a different religious background.
The topic for discussion, as we think about this together, is this: how should we interpret the somewhat-serious reasons listed as common for leaving Catholicism against what I would say are the somewhat-circumstantial reasons for changing affiliation among Protestants?
My opinion is that it doesn’t speak well of Protestants, to be honest, but I’d like to see where the readers of this blog would take this discussion.