Well, the good news is, they’re fully assimilated. And then some. Wow:
All five of the faith-related attitudes tested showed a gap between Catholics and other Americans. Among the elements tested were people’s highest priority in life (Catholics were only half as likely as others to mention their faith, and a majority identified family as their priority) and their commitment to the Christian faith (44% of Catholics claimed to be “absolutely committed” compared to 54% of the entire adult population)…
Of the dozen faith-oriented behaviors tested, Catholics strayed from the norm in relation to eight of the 12 items. Specifically, the typical Catholic person donated about 17% less money to churches; was 38% less likely than the average American to read the Bible; 67% less likely to attend a Sunday school class; 20% less likely to share their faith in Christ with someone who had different beliefs; 24% less likely to say their religious faith has greatly transformed their life; and were 36% less likely to have an “active faith,” which Barna defined as reading the Bible, praying and attending a church service during the prior week. However, Catholics were 16% more likely than the norm to attend a church service and 8% more likely to have prayed to God during the prior week.
The spiritual beliefs of Catholics are also substantially different from the typical views of Americans. Catholics differed from most people on seven of the 11 belief-focused questions raised. For instance, Catholics were significantly less likely to believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches and only half as likely to maintain that they have a responsibility to share their faith with others. They were more likely than the norm to say that Satan is not real; to believe that eternal salvation is earned; and to contend that Jesus Christ sinned while on earth…
The moral behaviors of Catholics also stood out in several areas. Among the 16 moral behaviors examined, Catholics were notably more likely to not say mean things about people behind their back, and were more likely to engage in recycling. However, they were also twice as likely to view pornographic content on the Internet and were more likely to use profanity, to gamble, and to buy lottery tickets.
The phenomenon of lapsed Catholics has been more common in my experience than lapsed Protestants, but having been raised Catholic I’m probably suffering from sample bias. Anyone have any theories as to why the data here is what it is? Any theories, I mean, that don’t involve denigrating the Church the way some of our more nuanced Protestant readers did in the thread about the Pope a few days ago? For some, I guess, if it’s not Muslims or Hindus, the nearest target will do.
As an inducement to thoughtful responses, I offer you this piece from former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson about how atheists really do believe in god no matter what they may think or say. Sigh.