Converts versus cradles

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that Americans who have switched faiths or joined a faith are only slightly more religious in belief and behavior than those who remained in the faith of their childhood. For example, while 62% of nonconverts say religion is very important to them, the number only rises to 69% among converts. Half of converts (51%) attend worship services at least once a week, compared with 44% of nonconverts. And so on.
Other recent studies show that, contrary to popular belief, sudden conversions like St. Paul’s represent only a small portion of all religious transformations, and that the “crockpot” model of a steadily developed spiritual insight is more common and may be more effective in building up a stable religious community than the “microwave” version of rebirth. . . .
The truth is, as the sociologist of religion Peter Berger has long noted, that religion today is a choice, and we are all converts to one degree or another, choosing among a variety of religious experiences rather than having them given to us, as in days of old. Whether converts do that better than “cradle Catholics”—or whether, as is often the case, that is a distinction without a difference—both categories of believers are bound by the same vocation. Both are as responsible for the success or failure of the church’s witness.