What are some of the main reasons that people are attracted to the Protestant faith?

If this has been asked before, feel free to direct me to a previous thread. I’ve been poking around CAF for a few months now, but I’m still newer and still exploring all the different forums and topics and have likely missed recent discussions. I was raised non-denominational Christian, but kind of fell away from church during my 20s. I didn’t stop believing in God, but I felt something was lacking in my church experiences and no longer felt like I belonged there. I’ve lately been considering the Catholic faith and have a feeling I eventually will be, but I’m in the questioning phase right now.

My question is this: Kind of specifically for those ex-Catholic CAF posters (or anyone else familiar with people’s reasons for leaving the Catholic faith) - What are some of the main reasons that people leave the Catholic faith for Protestant faith?

Having come from a Protestant upbringing, I know why I became disenchanted with Protestantism, but Protestantism obviously must have draw for some as many people leave other faiths for it. I’m curious at to what that draw typically is.

Am I just “bored” by Protestantism because it’s what I grew up in, and that’s why I’m turning to Catholicism? If I had instead grown up Catholic, would I have eventually gotten bored of Catholicism and switched to Protestantism, just because it was different? Or could my convictions toward Catholicism be genuine?

My friend, many of your questions you ask are personal questions that only you can answer for yourself on reflection.

However your question on why Catholics become protestants is, I suspect, being asked because you are juggling around in your own faith journey and are afraid (in the sense of tentative unsureness) that if others are leaving, then why are you being drawn to the Catholic Church?

The question you should ask instead, is why so many other protestants have turned back to the Catholic Church after generations of protest. This will provide you with a positive experience, rather than one that is a negative experience, and the positive experience is in all ways better than a negative one.

I don’t know if I count as a “Protestant convert”, but I’ll tell my story. I was raised Catholic (in a way) until I was 8 years old. 3 years atheist, went back to Christianity at 11. When I was 14 I identified as non-denominational Protestant, at one point I was considering fully converting to Presbyterianism.
The reason in its entirety was that I did not understand Catholicism or Christianity in general. I was raised Catholic for a short time and very poorly catechized. I didn’t even know non-Catholic denominations existed until I was 12, so it was easy for me to get caught up in it all. I was Christian but in general I just wanted to associate with a very liberal church, and many of the mainstream Protestants delivered.

Also, there was a point when I had decided to convert to Catholicism before getting swept up with Protestantism again. The reason then was simply because Sola Scriptura sounds so logical…on the surface. Scripture is all we know of Jesus so why shouldn’t it be the highest authority??? At that point, I still didn’t really understand Catholicism (like how the holy spirit guides the church) and figured that I should just follow the Bible. I spent four months trying to read the Bible and crying before I finally just let God guide me back to the one true Church.

Sola Scriptura sounds really appealing, especially if one hasn’t been particularly well catechized. It isn’t until you really understand the Church and you really understand the Bible and even that you really understand writing and language in general that you realize just how necessary a central, unified authority is to take on such manners.

I’m not saying that all Protestant converts are poorly catechized. I know there are other things to lead one away. But I will say that the more I learn about the Church, the more I am convinced it is true. And had I known then what I know now about the Church, I never would have associated with Protestantism in the first place. So personally, I am convinced that poor catechism is probably a pretty major cause of such things. Especially just considering how rampant cafeteria Catholicism and “cultural” Catholicism is.

HI Darryl and rjg99a, great answer if you don’t mind me saying so .

I used to be a protestant but always wanting to be Catholic , ( A reverence thing ) .

i think most of the time, it’s because they don’t understand their faith very well and get caught in anticatholic traps or just become disenchanted with church in general. or else, a bad experience.

most of the less active cahotlics i know don’t become prostant though, they sitll consider themselves catholic but are lapsed. i odn’t think i know any who have converted officially. of course theer are, just not the norm in my experience

Marriage is another issue. Someone whose marriage turns bad and divorces, but doesn’t have grounds for an annulment or doesn’t wish to go through the annulment process, may leave the Catholic church for a Protestant one so they can get remarried.

Likewise I’ve seen Catholics leave the church because they don’t fully understand Catholic teaching on certain issues (homosexuality, birth control, women’s issues, Marian doctrines) and don’t want to take the time to learn. It’s an ego thing.

The third group I see leaving the Catholic church are those who feel they’ve been hurt by a clergy member or some other church representative (a teacher, an administrator). The victims of clerical sexual abuse are the most obvious ones in this group.

Why do Protestants convert to Catholicism?

I don’t know, but it could be due to all coffee and donuts they give out in their church lobbies. Food makes for happy worshipers. Heck, we have fried chicken in our mosque on Fridays.

In reply to your basic question I think it is simply because some Catholics come to this place where certain parts of the Church doctrine no longer feel valid to them. They seek a place that is more in line with what they want to believe. In addition, some marry people of other faiths and want to worship as a family.

Welcome. You raise some good questions and we will try to help.

My question is this: Kind of specifically for those ex-Catholic CAF posters (or anyone else familiar with people’s reasons for leaving the Catholic faith) - What are some of the main reasons that people leave the Catholic faith for Protestant faith?

The reasons are probably as numerous as those leaving the faith…but I’ll try to lay out some broad “categories”.

Having come from a Protestant upbringing, I know why I became disenchanted with Protestantism, but Protestantism obviously must have draw for some as many people leave other faiths for it. I’m curious at to what that draw typically is.

I’d be curious to know the reasons you are disenchanted with “Protestantism” (kind of a lumping together term)

Am I just “bored” by Protestantism because it’s what I grew up in, and that’s why I’m turning to Catholicism? If I had instead grown up Catholic, would I have eventually gotten bored of Catholicism and switched to Protestantism, just because it was different? Or could my convictions toward Catholicism be genuine?

As another said…a lot of this will need deep and careful reflection.

To me there seems to be certain broad categories that cause people to leave the Church…but the generally revolve around a core of simply not knowing what they actually have - which comes down to poor catechesis. These reasons are

  1. Boredom - you will here people say that the mass is boring…that the sermon’s are uninspiring etc. Such people do not understand what the purpose of the mass actually is and is not. They are looking for something more “entertaining”.:rolleyes:
  2. Some Private Hurt - some problem with the pastor or other parishioners that they feel has not been properly addressed etc.
  3. Rejection of Church teaching - again this relates to not understanding the faith fully
  4. Marrying outside the Church - and deciding to attend their spouse’s church…

The above are just some of the reasons people convert to a protestantism…But as I say, most all boil down to simply not knowing what they truly have within the Catholic Church.

I suspect that many of the so called “converts” from Catholic to Protestant were CINO (Catholic in name only) for much of their life. Perhaps they were baptized as an infant but not really raised in the faith…or maybe they were raised by what we sometimes call, C&E (Christmas and Easter) Catholics. That is, those who only attend mass at Christmas and Easter…

As for what people find attractive in the protestant churches…I think largely it is the simplicity and the directness of the beliefs. Catholicism can seem rather “rule bound” and difficult where-as the very direct messages and evangelization efforts of some protestant communions can seem very appealing.
Note here that I am not finding fault with these messages (to a point). In some cases it can take a person (“catholic” by baptism) who is headed for hell and turn them around.
Praise God for that.
It’s very unlikely that such messages are going to sway a person who is a devout Catholic who knows their faith.

Now - to address your situation…just briefly…
If you feel called to the Catholic Church it is most likely because you wish to deepen your faith and your relationship with Christ and the Catholic Church is the best place to do this. “The fullness of faith” is contained in her…

I hope my ramblings are of some help.


Correct. I know a woman who used to be a Catholic MAN. Now she is a Protestant WOMAN. She does not know that I know about her “past”. We had an argument about confession and the Catholic Church. During the argument I kept asking her which doctrine hurt her so much that she had to leave the Catholic Church. She kept avoiding the question but I know the true reason for her leaving the Catholic Church.

I have known a fair number of Catholic-to-Protestants, and what they typically say is that Catholicism seemed to be empty ritual to them, with an undue stress on outward duties. They felt that the Bible-based faith of the churches I belonged to was much truer and more genuine, and promoted a much stronger connection with our Lord Jesus. They were pleased at the emphasis on Scripture, the worship of God, and community between believers; it was refreshing to them.

I have a relative who left the church…he was convinced by some guys in the army that he was never a Christian, never learned about Jesus… It’s annoying cause now he’s obsessed with end times like blood moons and the anti Christ. In fact he called me on my birthday last year and used it to ask me if I was letting the devil control my life or something. It really upset me.

It may have been a matter of poor catechism for him - because obviously he didn’t understand why I read john 6 to him one time when he visited! And he supposedly knows scripture, but not one of the most important passages of Jesus’ ministry. The ironic part is that he is named for the saint that translated scripture into Latin.

People want to be entertained and a lot of protestant churches do that. Protestant leaders, over many years, decades, etc have put this notion that worship is “what God wants for you”, “claim your healing” etc.

It has become a place to let loose for the down trodden in society. Worship has never been what we can get out of it, it has always been us coming in and giving to God the adoration and praise He is worthy of. That notion of self sacrifice doesn’t reign on itchy ears, and trust me, I’ve been guilty of this myself.

What is more titillating to the senses? A prayerful sacrifice given to the concencrated body and blood of Jesus or going forward, letting a man lay hands on you, say a few words and then act as if you are something special now.

The more evangelical settings are the worse. They cannot understand nor refuse to believe that Jesus said “This is my body”, they cannot accept the fact that the Church has more authority than the book the church gave to the world, yet, in the middle of their services, a man, or woman, can get up out of their seat, ran to and fro screaming unknown and intelligible ramblings and they will believe that.

People love entertainment and are constantly trying to make God in their own image, not the the other way, as was always intended. Not trying to be harsh, but been there, done that and know what I am talking about. Peace.

I left for lots or reasons all amounting to I didn’t believe any of the distinctive Catholic dogmas anymore. I was raised non religious but became Christian and Catholic in college. I was drawn to its history and intellectual tradition. There were a few things I couldn’t quite accept but on direction from my spiritual advisor he told me to practice the faith and those things would fall into place. They never did. Ten years later I was trying to practice my faith that was getting more dead and moribund by the day. I was going through the motions and getting more and more resentful of the church. Yet my resentment was making me terrified of my salvation. I laid awake at night terrified that my contrition was not perfect or if I even had it at all. I did confession because it was an obligation. It gave me no comfort. I went to mass because I was obligated and it gave me no comfort. I bought every book Catholic Answers put out and read all their tracts. I went and crossed swords with Protestants in real life and online. I was not trying to convince them, I was trying to convince myself. I realized all my “answers” were pathetic.

I started to hate all the obligations of the church. I hated going to mass. I hated going to confession. I pretended to be on the same page as everyone else. Even though they looked as miserable as me. They all ran out of the church so fast after mass that you would think the building was on fire. My dismal and dead faith offered me no peace, no comfort. It became a source of pain in my life. I was in a state of spiritual torture and agony, I had to make it stop.

All this coupled with some very negative experiences at my local parish, where I was a lector and my wife a Eucharistic minister. I finally told her on the way home from church that I wanted to check out somewhere else. I related all this to a coworker who was feeling very bad about his Reformed baptist church. We both decided to check out a local tiny confessional Lutheran parish in my town. The pastor told me the Lutheran Law Gospel distinction. He offered to baptize my daughter free of charge with no strings attached. Folks actually stayed after church and enjoyed each other’s company. It was like coming up for air. I recently moved and found a new small confessional lutheran parish similar to the first. I was confirmed in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod late last year.

Working with my pastor I have let go of my anger towards my former church. Turns out I may have something called scrupulosity. Something that my hero Luther also may have had. His writings on the issue felt so close to home. I can relate. Now I actually respect my former church more now than a year ago and half ago. I believe that the Catholic Church preaches the word and administers the sacraments, I believe it is a legitimate coequal, co blessed by God, beloved Christian Church home to many Christians. But its simply not for me.

I wish you well in your new church home. My understanding is that WELS, like LCMS, tends to be strong in doctrine and tradition.
The Catholics I know who switched to Protestant followed a different path. They tended to join non-denominational churches who are “light” on doctrine, emphasize “how to be a caring person in your daily life”, accept yourself as lovable, build a nurturing community.
Even if it were proven to everyone’s knowledge that God did not exist, these churches would suffer only a slight decline; they meet so many other kinds of needs.
There are negative experiences that cause people to leave the Catholic Church - on my cranky days, I am one, myself. I would rather see a Catholic join a strong doctrinal church - even one that disagrees with Catholicism at times - than join a church that never has doctrinal disagreement, because they don’t really have any doctrine.

It may help to keep in mind the distinction between the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Faith. In America the media constantly focuses our attention on the Church, but the Faith is separate. Many who have left the Faith, remain in the Church, sometimes even remaining in the convent. Others who have left the Church (maybe they bumped into Catholics like me) are still deeply formed by the Catholic Faith.

Yes I think that one will here this sort of response quite often…but I wonder, if one were to scratch the surface of such responses, if one would find any “meat” underneath it. Or if there might not be other causes.

I do not say this to attack your post, or that validity of what others have told you…but consider this…The Catholic Church IS Thoroughly grounded in Scripture.
(I hesitate to use the term “bible based” only because the Church existed before the compilation of what we today call “the bible” and in fact it was the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that compiled it.) So how could the Church NOT be grounded in Scripture.
So based on this - I tend to dismiss such arguments as that one. It just doesn’t hold water.

That said I do sort of see what they mean. There is something attractive about the simplicity presented in many protestant communions. I was attracted to such simplicity myself for a period of time…Well truth be told I’m still attracted to simplicity in faith matters.
What such people fail to appreciate is that this kind of simplicity is available within the Catholic Church. That is why I suggest that such reasons be probed just a little with questions like…
You mean you couldn’t get close to Jesus in the Catholic Church?
How can you say there was no emphasis on Scripture when the mass is full of it?

Like I say - not trying to be adversarial…just tossing out some thoughts…


Recall an Episcopalian posting data on Catholic converts to Anglicanism; I think it represents the highest number of former Catholics.

I could never see myself leaving the ‘True Church’.

Ok, there are bits of the ‘church’ that i am unhappy about but the foundations of the church are without question ‘solid’ to me.

I’ve never had reason to doubt what they say. Yes, for these folks, they could not get close to Jesus in the Catholic Church. They also felt they weren’t being taught to read and study Scripture for themselves.

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