In this unique psychological study, John Kotre provides some startling answers to the questions Catholics are now asking about those who abandon the church, those who remain in it, and those who attempt to create a new church within the church. A detailed examination of the borderline between membership and ex-membership in the Catholic Church, as perceived by young adults reared within the Catholic educational system, the book provides an impressive substantive contribution to understanding not only of the modern church, but of organizational change in general.
Kotre, himself a product of the Catholic educational system, positions himself amid the tension and ambiguity between those who consider themselves "in" and those who consider themselves "out" of the Catholic Church. He designed a systematic questionnaire covering four hundred variables about each subject's beliefs, values, perceptions of parents, and reasons for being an insider or an outsider. Using this questionnaire he individually interviewed one hundred graduates of Catholic colleges. The surprising results of this important research show that, in spite of sixteen years of formal Catholic education, the attitudes of both the "ins" and the "outs" are not influenced by their Catholic upbringing so much as by their primary group relationships.
Recent research has shown that adult Americans are leaving their childhood faiths at ever increasing rates and that the Catholic Church is suffering the greatest losses. Kotre's book offers an insightful psychological perspective on this dramatic movement. It is a must-read for professional psychologists and sociologists, theologians, and people interested in the psychology and sociology of religion.