Poll points at fluidity of religious affiliation in US

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New York, Feb 26 (UNI) Pointing at the fluidity of religious affiliation in the US, an extensive new poll found that more than a quarter of American adults have converted in favour of another religion or no religion at all.

If shifts among Protestant denominations are included, then it appears that 44 per cent of Americans have switched religious affiliations.

'The US Religious Landscape Survey', conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion&Public Life, detailed the religious affiliation of the Americans and explored the shifts taking place in the religious landscape of the country.

The poll, based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans aged 18 and above, also found that among Americans aged 18-29, one-in-four said they were not affiliated with any particular religion.

The survey confirmed that the US was on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country-- barely 51 per cent said they were members of Protestant denominations.

Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes as today fewer than one-in-four (24 per cent) described themselves as Catholic, even though nearly one-in-three (31 per cent) were raised in the Catholic faith, the survey found.

Immigrants were also disproportionately represented among several other religions including Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Muslims, roughly two-thirds of whom are immigrants, now account for roughly 0.6 per cent of the adult population; and Hindus, more than eight-in-ten of whom are foreign-born, now account for approximately 0.4 per cent of the population, the survey indicated.

As many as 16.1 per cent of the people were unaffiliated with any particular religion.

The Forum attributed the shifts in the religious landscape of the country to gaining and losing of adherents by every major religious group simultaneously.

The New York Times quoted Michael Lindsay, assistant director of the Centre on Race, Religion and Urban Life at Rice University, as saying,''It is a powerful indicator of where America will end up on politics, culture, family life. If you want to understand America, you have to understand religion in America.'' UNI XC SKB ND1802

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