New Facts about Muslims: How many adherents leave Islam?

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series New Facts about Muslims
Muslims in the Hajj

HINDUS and MUSLIMS have the highest religious retention rates. They also host the world’s largest annual gatherings. Mecca hosts about 2 million Muslims a year, while tens of millions of Hindus bathe in sacred waters during Kumbh Mela.

If you were raised in a religious household, do you still identify with the religion? Or, do you identify with a different religion—or none at all?

If you no longer identify with your childhood religion, then you are a religious switcher.

Which religions experience the least switching?

Some religious groups are very good at retaining their childhood members when they become adults. Hindus have the highest retention rate, according to a massive survey by Pew of the American religious landscape. Eight of ten (80%) Americans who were raised in Hindu families still identify with the faith.

To what extent does religious switching affect Islam? Muslims are almost as effective at retaining members: 77% of adults raised in Muslim households still identify with Islam. Where did the other 23% go? The biggest category is the religiously unaffiliated (18% of adults who were raised in Muslim families). About 5% are now Christians.

The Jewish faith is also good at retaining its members. Three of four adults (75%) who were raised in Jewish families still identify with their childhood religion.

Which religions experience the most switching?

Three faiths retain fewer than 50% of their childhood adherents when they become adults: mainline Protestants (45% retention rate), Buddhists (39% retention rate), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (34% retention rate).

Are you surprised (or unsurprised) to learn that Hindus, Muslims, and Jews have the highest retention rates?

Or, that mainline Protestants, Buddhists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have the lowest retention rates?

What does the wide variation in retention mean in the long run?

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