The Media Project is a network of mainstream journalists who are Christians pursuing accurate and intellectually honest reporting on all aspects of culture, particularly the role of religion in public life in all corners of the world. It welcomes friends from other faiths to such discussions and training.

Novelist Anne Rice one of many leaving organized Christianity

Novelist Anne Rice one of many leaving organized Christianity

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From the LOS ANGELES TIMES. Novelist Anne Rice's surprise post last week on Facebook — she announced she had quit Christianity "in the name of Christ" because she'd seen too much hypocrisy — brought cheers and smug smiles from critics of institutional faith, and criticism and soul-searching among believers.

But there's something more at play here than one of America's most famous Catholics — Rice re-embraced the faith of her youth in 1998 and published a memoir just two years ago, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession — walking away from the church.

Rice is merely one of millions of Americans who have opted out of organized religion in recent years, making the unaffiliated category of faith the fastest-growing "religion" in America, according to a 2008 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The Pew report found that 1 in 6 American adults were not affiliated with any particular faith. That number jumped to 25% for people ages 18 to 29. Moreover, most mainline Protestant denominations have for years experienced a net loss in members, and about 25% of cradle Catholics have left their childhood faith, the study showed.

And in a 2008 study by Trinity College researchers, 27% of Americans said they do not expect a religious funeral.

American Christianity is not well, and there's evidence to indicate that its condition is more critical than most realize — or at least want to admit.

Pollsters — most notably evangelical George Barna — have reported repeatedly that they can find little measurable difference between the moral behavior of churchgoers and the rest of American society. Barna has found that born-again Christians are more likely to divorce (an act strongly condemned by Jesus) than atheists and agnostics, and are more likely to be racist than other Americans.

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