A region particularly hard-hit by the sex abuse scandal, whose criminal cardinal, Bernard Law, was rewarded with a sinecure in Rome, has reacted to the collapse of the hierarchy's moral authority in ways similar to Europe:

In Massachusetts, the decline is particularly striking - in 1990, Catholics made up a majority of the state, with 54 percent of the residents, but in 2008, the Catholic population was 39 percent. At the same time, the percentage of the state's residents who say they have no religious affiliation rose sharply, from 8 percent to 22 percent.

Some of this has been balanced nationally by huge Latino immigration in the West and Southwest. But it's striking nonetheless:

"The huge loss, in absolute terms and as a percentage, of Catholics in New England is the most striking element, as well as the fact that most of them didn't join another religion," said Ryan T. Cragun, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Tampa. "They didn't become Protestant, but they actually dropped out of religion and became nonaffiliated."

I wonder how much of the shift toward atheism and agnosticism in America has been occasioned by the combination of Islamist violence, Christianist intolerance and Catholic hierarchy hypocrisy.

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