Pew Research Center found out that the number of people in America who no longer identify as members of Islam is almost equal as the number of converts to Islam. Each religious group is simultaneously gaining and losing members. That is something that happens in every religion but, the Pew Research Center’s study found out that the share of Americans who leave Islam is offset by those who become Muslim. In America, the number of people who no longer identify as members of Islam is almost equal as the share of American Muslim adults who are converts to Islam. On the other side, a much smaller share of current Christians (6%) are converts. Christianity as a whole loses more people than it gains from religious switching (conversions in both directions) in the U.S., while the net effect on Islam in America is a wash.
A 2017 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Muslims, using slightly different questions than the 2014 survey, found a similar estimate (24%) of the share of those who were raised Muslim but have left Islam. Among this group, 55% no longer identify with any religion, according to the 2017 survey. Fewer identify as Christian (22%), and an additional one-in-five (21%) identify with a wide variety of smaller groups, including faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or as generally “spiritual.”
Converts from Islam were also asked to explain why they left the faith and there were different reasons. The most respondents cited issues with religion and faith in general (25%), saying that they dislike organized religion (12%), that they do not believe in God (8%), or that they are just not religious (5%). About one-in-five cited a reason specific to their experience with Islam, for instance being raised Muslim but never connecting with the faith (9%) or disagreeing with the teachings (7%) of Islam. Similar shares listed reasons related to a preference for other religions or philosophies (16%) and personal growth experiences (14%), such as becoming more educated or maturing.
One striking difference between former Muslims and those who have always been Muslim is in the share who hails from Iran. Those who have left Islam are more likely to be immigrants from Iran (22%) than those who have not switched faiths (8%), the Pew concluded. The large number of Iranian American former Muslims is the result of mass immigration from Iran after the Iranian Revolution, which included many secular Iranians seeking political refuge from the new theocratic regime.
On the other side, when asked to specify reasons why they became Muslim, about a quarter say they preferred the beliefs or teachings of Islam to those of their prior religion, while 21% say they read religious texts or studied Islam before making the decision to switch. Smaller share of converts (about 10% for each reason) cited reasons as they wanted to belong to a community, that marriage or a relationship was the prime motivator, that they were introduced to the faith by a friend, or that they were following a public leader.
Photo Credits: Nunez Report