Monday, February 25, 2013

NPR on Catholic Church At Crossroads Mistakenly Cites Pew Forum on Extent of Catholic Exodus: A Caution to Readers

I'm not sure how to frame the following posting, except as a kind of caveat emptor for anyone who reads the NPR article at which I left the comment below in the comments thread: 

Your "Catholic Church At Crossroads" article unfortunately contains a serious error of fact. It states, "Today, about 1 in 10 American Catholics born into the religion has left it, according to a 2009 Pew Research Center poll." 
But when one clicks on the Pew article to which the preceding statement points, that article clearly states, "In fact, one-in-ten adults in the United States is a former Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2009 report 'Faith in Flux.'
There's a big difference between ONE IN TEN AMERICAN CATHOLICS and ONE IN TEN AMERICAN ADULTS. The Pew study actually finds that about a third of American Catholics* had left the church by 2009--resulting in a finding that one in ten American adults is a former Catholic. 
If the Pew Data are correct (and I have every reason to think they are), the problem of exodus confronting the American Catholic church at present is much more serious than the incorrect figures given by NPR appear to indicate.

I first encountered the NPR article today when I read Dennis Coday's "Morning Briefing" column in National Catholic Reporter.  After I'd read the NPR piece and noticed this big mistake, I left a comment at the NCR site, and then emailed NPR.

NPR replied, telling me that they would relay the information to their corrections people. I then thanked  NPR for its reply, and told them that I consider the mistake a very serious one and would hope they'd correct it in timely fashion, due to the number of folks who read NPR articles and listen to NPR.

I also told them that if they had not corrected the mistake by the time I worked on my blog today, I'd issue a statement on my blog--and I'm now doing that. I still see no correction, and NPR has not replied to my later email about this matter.

I certainly do hope they'll correct their misinformation soon. If they don't do so, then I'll be strongly inclined to wonder why they want misinformation that is easily disproven by the Pew article to which they themselves link to remain on the NPR website.

*American adults raised Catholic, that is.

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