The Year of Faith while the faithless grow - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

The Year of Faith while the faithless grow

Bishop Richard Lennon presided over Sunday mass at St. John Cathedral in downtown Cleveland.  This is a scene that's repeated every week at this time, but this Sunday is different. The Pope has declared this the start of "The Year of Faith," for Catholics all around the world.

"You and I belong to a community - the household of faith," Bishop Lennon told the dozens who came to the mass.

This "Year of Faith," intended to make that spiritual household stronger and to introduce the Catholic faith to those who may not be religious.  Just keeping the faithful coming to church - challenging in this day and age, and that's not just an issue for Catholics.  In fact, thousands have been leaving religions of all affiliations.

A new Pew Research Center study shows that more Americans than ever before say they don't belong to any faith.  In the past five years, the numbers of religiously unaffiliated have grown from 15 to almost 20 percent.

"People lose faith because we lose hope,"  said De'Wayne Thomas of Cleveland.  He identifies himself as Muslim.

Whatever the cause for the breakaway from organized religion, it seems there are implications for the upcoming election. Those who consider themselves to be unaffiliated tend to be more liberal and are usually registered as Democratic voters.

Many of the unaffiliated are young people, and it may take more than a year of faith to turn that tide, but this may be a powerful start.

"I'm not saying force them to come, but promote them to come to church more than usual because we have to believe in God, don't we,"  asked a man who would only identify himself as Mike.

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