Marcus Borg responded in this way to the recent Pew Forum survey that revealed that a significant percentage of Americans have switched their religious affiliation from the one they were brought up in:
I think this is healthy. It suggests that many people have moved beyond their socialization within a particular form of Christianity to a thoughtful (and sometimes agonizing) re-assessment of what it means to be Christian.
And I suspect that most of these have moved from a more conventional and conservative form of Christianity to a more progressive form. This is encouraging.
I appreciate his optimism, but I wonder how much of this church shopping really does have to do with people finding their way to progressive faith. Certainly, there is a great deal of dissatisfaction among people who were brought up within certain forms of Christian orthodoxy and who then realized that they could no longer accept the dogmas they were once taught. But how many of those people have switched from a given affiliation to a more progressive one, and how many have dropped out of Christian churches altogether? In other words, how many people are successfully finding progressive Christian denominations they can call home, and how many have instead simply given up and instead joined the ranks of the Church Alumni Society?
My recent series of blog entries concerning Bart Ehrman illustrates this point. Many people who realize that the old orthodoxy is not tenable (like Ehrman) do not find their way to progressive Christianity. Instead, they just give up.