Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released a new study, Faith in Flux: Changes in the Religious Affiliation in the U.S. Among the interesting findings is one unearthed by Mark Gray from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). Mark notes that when people were asked the open-ended question, why did you leave the church, only two-three percent cited the sexual abuse crisis. (If you suggest sex abuse as the reason about 25 percent agree.)
The crisis has been so horrific that when Mark pointed it how few cited it, I was surprised. It just feels like it must be more. That may be the effect of media coverage. When you read something in the newspaper it can seem bigger than life. As big as the sex abuse crisis is, media can make it look even bigger.
In some ways, like politics, all religion is local. People make judgments on the church based on the priest at Mass, the chaplain in the hospital, the cleric at the funeral home, the deacon who performed the baptism – at the holy intersections – the significant and tender moments in their lives.