Are Americans Losing Their Religion?

Jonesboro, AR (KAIT) -- Nearly half of American adults are leaving behind their faith from childhood to switch their religious affiliation or abandon religion altogether.

That statistic is according to a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

"If both parents are really involved in their faith, than the teen tends to go into their adult years and stay in their faith tradition," said Dr. Walter Norvell.

Dr. Walter Norvell now teaches at Williams Baptist College, but spent 20 years in youth ministry.

He says teens, for example, may stray from faith because of change in environment like going to college, a change in peer groups, or because they don't feel a connection to the congregation.

"You put a whole bunch of those factors together, or you remove a whole bunch of those factors you can see why a few stay, but why many of them go away," said Dr. Norvell.

In fact, the Pew Forum study finds mainline Protestant Churches are on the decline.

"The number of people who say they have no religious affiliation is growing and non denominational churches are gaining popularity.

"Many non denominational churches are where people who just have trouble fitting in, fit.  It's kind of like where misfits can's a cool thing," said Nevin Gnagey.

Nevin Gnagey pastors Grace Community Church.

He says a lot of times people attend non-denominational churches for something, perhaps different than what they grew up with.....but still he says they have a fundamental doctrine of belief in the Bible.

"So it may be that some of these churches actually may call people up to greater faith and belief than some of the mainline denominations," said Dr. Norvell.