The research study Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics seeks to understand more fully, and in young people’s own words, why young people leave the Catholic Church. The reasons are often not what most adults and church leaders think. Released in 2017, 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 frankly, with sometimes brutal honesty.

Some of what they have to say may be unpleasant, even disturbing, for the church to hear, 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. Young people disaffiliate from the church for reasons as diverse as the individuals’ lived experiences.

Public, Candid Conversation Explores Disaffiliation from Catholic 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.

What they have to say will likely surprise you.

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News & Articles

May 21, 2019

Some Young People Staying to Lead, Serve Church

Not all young people are leaving the Catholic Church. Nor are those who stay uniformly conservative, traditionalist, or doctrinally dogmatic. Those realities make few headlines, pushed […]
May 14, 2019

Design Thinking Can Help Churches Serve Young People

By D. Dale WalkerSecond of two parts One of the defining characteristics of the American church is its entrepreneurial spirit. Innovations like Methodism and Mormonism took […]
May 8, 2019

Rachel Held Evans Taught Us How To Be Christian

I had not heard of Rachel Held Evans until she died on May 4. My wife noticed a write-up about her online and pointed it out […]
May 7, 2019

Design Thinking May Be Just the Tool Churches Need

By D. Dale WalkerFirst of two parts How can churches engage young people meaningfully, keeping them active and growing in faith? Helpful ways of answering this […]
April 30, 2019

The Transformative Power of Music

Music throughout history has provided people a means to gather, talk, worship, pray, celebrate, dance, sing, meditate. Music is both communal and profoundly personal, providing comfort, […]
April 23, 2019

Growing Up Muslim in America

(Note: Saint Mary’s Press Research spoke with Sara, a young Muslim woman, about her experience growing up and today as a Muslim woman in the United […]

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Share Your Story

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

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