Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Who Is More Likely To Leave The Faith?

In the comments section of my last post, Paul Sunstone asked this question:

Do you think conservatives are more likely than liberals to have difficulty maintaining a belief in deity once they admit that their belief is only one among many?

It is an interesting question and I wanted to wrestle my thoughts with it out on a post, and perhaps lure in some other folks to offer their two cents.

Off the top of my head, I think it would be harder for a conservative to get to that point. Conservatives, I think, tend to be very either/or in their process; so it would be harder to get them to that realization. A liberal, who tends to see things in shades of grey, would be more likely to start the journey.

However, I think liberals would have a lot more opportunities for "safe harbor" on their voyage to Atheism. I spent many years as a liberal Christian and I wonder, if I had not had my experiences with Mormons, if I might have stayed there.  

But as I think of the various folks I know who have gone to Atheism, they were often conservatives who went through a liberalizing period, and ended in Atheism. Usually Hell, or the church's treatment of homosexuals or women, or some such issue caused a period of questioning. Once they pulled on that thread, a lot more unraveled than they had anticipated.

For example, my friend Bruce was an extremely conservative Baptist pastor, but he went through a liberalizing of his politics and theology before finally abandoning his faith.  I think that is the typical route.... so I am wondering:

Does anyone jump straight from conservative theology to Atheism in one fell swoop?
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