• February 4, 2023

Under Half Of U.S. Adults Belong To A Religious Congregation, Survey Says : NPR

Rev. Michael Amabisco blesses ashes during the Ash Wednesday service at St. Raymond Catholic Church in February in Menlo Park, California. A new Gallup poll says the number of professing members of the Church has fallen 18% for Catholics since 2000. Randy Vazquez / Digital First Media / The Mercury News via Getty Images is hiding closed captions

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Randy Vazquez / Digital First Media / The Mercury News via Getty Images

Rev. Michael Amabisco blesses ashes during the Ash Wednesday service at St. Raymond Catholic Church in February in Menlo Park, California. According to a new Gallup poll, the number of professing members of the Church has fallen 18% for Catholics since 2000.

Randy Vazquez / Digital First Media / The Mercury News via Getty Images

Less than half of US adults say they belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque. This emerges from a new Gallup poll that highlights a dramatic trend away from religion in recent years among all age groups.

The new Gallup poll, released Monday, shows US religious membership has fallen to just 47% among respondents – less than half the adult population for the first time since the question began being organized more than 80 years ago.

While church membership decreased only marginally in the most recent survey, partly conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, the results reflect a trend Gallup has been following since the turn of the century.

In 2018, 50% of adults surveyed said they belonged to a religious community, up from 70% who said so in 1999. That number fluctuated over six decades from 1937 – the first – by just a few percentage points – year of the survey – when 73% of adults in the United States said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque.

Catholics saw the largest drop in the last two decades, down 18 points, twice as much as the 9 point drop for Protestants. Gallup said it didn’t have enough data to analyze trends for other religions.

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Among other subgroups, Democrats have seen church membership declined 25% since 2000, compared with 12% for Republicans. Independents saw an 18 point drop. Overall, conservatives were almost twice as likely to have religious affiliations as liberals.

There were also regional differences, with the decline in church membership over the same period being greater in the east (-25%) than in the south (-16%), in the Midwest (-18%) or in the west (-19%). Non-college graduates and unmarried people also showed a greater decline in church membership than college graduates and married people during this period.

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“”[D]Church membership is proportionally lower among political conservatives, Republicans, married adults, and college graduates, “Gallup said.” These groups, along with southerners and non-Hispanic black adults, tend to have the highest rates of church membership. “

Despite this data, respondents can still attend a place of worship and / or join a particular faith without having formal membership in a religious community.

For years, demographers have cited millennials as being at their peak “The Rise of the ‘Nones'” – a group defined as atheists, agnostics and those who say they have no religious preference. But, as Gallup points out, more Americans of all ages – including “traditionalists” born before 1946 – say they belong in that group.

“Since the turn of the century, the proportion of traditionalists (from 4% to 7%), baby boomers (from 7% to 13%) and Gen Xers (11% to 20%) has nearly doubled religious affiliation,” says Gallup.

However, Gallup points out that demographic change, rather than sudden discontent among religious, appears to be responsible for much of this change, “with those in older generations who were likely to have been members of the Church in the US adult population through humans.” in younger generations the less belonging to it have been replaced. “

Despite these declines, 66% of traditionalists, 58% of baby boomers, 50% of Generation X and 36% of millennials said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. “The limited data that Gallup has on Church membership in the Gen Z segment of adulthood shows that Church membership is similar to that of millennials,” said Gallup.

A Pew Research Center survey The conduct of the coronavirus pandemic last summer showed that three in ten Americans reported stronger personal beliefs due to the pandemic. But people who said they “prioritize religion” in their lives were more likely to say their beliefs had grown stronger.

In conclusion, Gallup writes: “The US remains a religious nation … far fewer, now less than half, have formal membership in any particular place of worship.”

“While it is possible that some of the decline in 2020 was temporary and related to the coronavirus pandemic, a sustained decline in decades to come seems inevitable as religiosity and church membership plummet among younger and older generations of adults are said to be lower.

Gallup says it compiled the survey from interviews with 6,117 randomly selected adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The interviews were conducted by telephone from 2018 to 2020. The margin of error in the sample is ± 2 percentage points at a confidence level of 95%, says Gallup.

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