The Quest for a Spiritual Home (...or another story about a gay Episcopal priest)
By Eleanor Clift
Jan 17, 2009
Like most of his congregants at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown, Father Albert wasn't born an Episcopalian. In fact, he first walked into St. John's almost 20 years ago as a Jewish physician. He had done a lot of searching to find a spiritual home since his high-school days, when he attended Hebrew classes. "I wasn't very religious, but I always read everything I could get my hands on about religion, regardless of tradition," he says. Peering through round, owlish glasses, he is subdued when discussing his decision to enter the priesthood. The choice is still "very painful" to some members of his family, he says, but to him it was a change of profession more than of faith.
However he frames it, Father Albert is not alone. A surprising number of Americans are switching from one religion to another. A 2007 survey done by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 44 percent of Americans profess a different religious affiliation from the one they were raised in. Excluding shifts between Protestant denominations, the number—28 percent—is still remarkably high. (Never having asked the question before, the Pew researchers had nothing to compare it with and are back in the field to ask, among other things, how many converts eventually return to their childhood faith.) the rest