The purpose of this newly released study, The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, is to understand more fully, and in young people’s own words, why young people leave the Catholic Church. The reasons young people leave the church are often not what most adults and church leaders believe to be the reasons. This study helps demystify the dynamics of religious disaffiliation and correct the inaccurate assumptions many church leaders make about disaffiliation.

This qualitative study is a statistically sound sample of the 5.4 million individuals in the United States who are former Catholics between the ages of 15 and 25.

The study may be disturbing, even disruptive. As a narrative-based study it reveals young people telling their stories of why they left the church in their own words, uncensored and unfiltered. They speak with honesty and frankness, sometimes brutal honesty. Some of what they have to say may be unpleasant for the church to hear, even disturbing, and yet it is the first study that does not attempt to cast disaffiliation into overly generalized categories or to suggest that the reasons for disaffiliation are simple to understand. They are not—the reasons for disaffiliation are as diverse as the individuals’ lived experiences. There is no single reason why many young people raised as Catholics no longer self-identify with the church.

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Why Do Young People Leave the Catholic Church?

Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, a comprehensive report, is based on the unprecedented national study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University and Saint Mary’s Press Catholic Research Group. In their own words, young people share the reasons why they are leaving the Catholic Church, and religion in general. Their reasons will likely surprise you.

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We invite you to share your story with us. What led you to be “done” with the church or with religion or belief in God altogether?  We are interested in hearing your story.

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