TRENDS & U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time Due to Millennials, Gen. Z., Less Emphasis Upon Membership & Those With “No Religious Preference.” #Gallup

by Jeffrey M Jones, Gallup, 4/29/21.

… Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.

Line graph. U.S. church membership was 73% in 1937 when Gallup first measured it. It stayed near 70% through 2000 before beginning to decline, to 61% in 2010 and 47% in 2020.

U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21stcentury.

As many Americans celebrate Easter and Passover this week, Gallup updates a 2019 analysis that examined the decline in church membership over the past 20 years…

Decline in Membership Tied to Increase in Lack of Religious Affiliation

The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.

As would be expected, Americans without a religious preference are highly unlikely to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, although a small proportion — 4% in the 2018-2020 data — say they do. That figure is down from 10% between 1998 and 2000.

Given the nearly perfect alignment between not having a religious preference and not belonging to a church, the 13-percentage-point increase in no religious affiliation since 1998-2000 appears to account for more than half of the 20-point decline in church membership over the same time.

Most of the rest of the drop can be attributed to a decline in formal church membership among Americans who dohave a religious preference. Between 1998 and 2000, an average of 73% of religious Americans belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. Over the past three years, the average has fallen to 60%.

Line graph. Changes in church membership among Americans who express a religious preference or affiliation. Between 1998 and 2000, 73% of religious Americans were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. That dipped to 70% between 2008 and 2010, and it fell to 60% between 2018 and 2020.

Generational Differences Linked to Change in Church Membership

Church membership is strongly correlated with age, as 66% of traditionalists — U.S. adults born before 1946 — belong to a church, compared with 58% of baby boomers, 50% of those in Generation X and 36% of millennials. The limited data Gallup has on church membership among the portion of Generation Z that has reached adulthood are so far showing church membership rates similar to those for millennials.

The decline in church membership, then, appears largely tied to population change, with those in older generations who were likely to be church members being replaced in the U.S. adult population with people in younger generations who are less likely to belong. The change has become increasingly apparent in recent decades because millennials and Gen Z are further apart from traditionalists in their church membership rates (about 30 points lower) than baby boomers and Generation X are (eight and 16 points, respectively). Also, each year the younger generations are making up an increasingly larger part of the entire U.S. adult population.

Read more at … https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx?

TRENDS & More Than 3 in 4 Americans Say U.S. Moral Values Are “Getting Worse” According to New #GallupResearch

by Justin McCarthy, Gallup, 6/1/18..

… Forty-nine percent of Americans say the state of moral values in the U.S. is “poor” — the highest percentage in Gallup’s trend on this measure since its inception in 2002. Meanwhile, 37% of U.S. adults say moral values are “only fair,” and 14% say they are “excellent” or “good.”

Line graph: How Americans rate state of U.S. moral values -- excellent, good, only fair, poor? Highs: exc/good: 23% (2011); poor: 49% (‘18).

These data are from Gallup’s annual Values and Morals poll, conducted May 1-10.

Americans have always viewed the state of U.S. morals more negatively than positively. But the latest figures are the worst to date, with a record-high 49% rating values as poor and a record-tying-low 14% rating them as excellent or good.

In earlier polls on the measure, Americans were about as likely to rate the country’s moral standing as only fair as they were to say it was poor. But in 10 of the past 12 annual polls since 2007, Americans have been decidedly more likely to rate it as poor…

More Than Three in Four Americans Say U.S. Moral Values Are “Getting Worse”

When asked whether U.S. moral values are getting better or worse, Americans have consistently said they are worsening, and that remains the case today. Currently, 77% say moral values in the U.S. are getting worse, while 18% say they are getting better.

Views of the direction of the country’s morals were slightly more negative from 2006 to 2008, however, when 81% to 82% said the state of moral values was declining.

Line graph: Americans' views of U.S. moral values’ direction: 18% getting better, 77% getting worse (2018). High, getting worse: 82% (‘07).

Read more at … http://news.gallup.com/poll/235211/half-americans-say-moral-values-poor.aspx

CHURCH ATTENDANCE & Gallup research: Percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply & those professing no religious identity, up to 20% from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.

graph 1

From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.

By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.

… Currently, the rate of weekly church attendance among Protestants and Catholics is similar at most age levels. One exception is among those aged 21 to 29, with Protestants (36%) more likely than Catholics (25%) to say they have attended in the past seven days.

Protestants’ Pie Is Shrinking Faster Than Catholics’

While attracting parishioners to weekly services is vital to the maintenance of the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations alike, so too is maintaining a large base of Americans identifying with each faith group.

Although the rate at which Protestants attend church has held firm over the past six decades, the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply, from 71% in 1955 to 47% in the mid-2010s. Since 1999, Gallup’s definition of Protestants has included those using the generic term “Christian” as well as those calling themselves Protestant or naming a specific Protestant faith.

By contrast, while the Catholic Church has suffered declining attendance in the U.S., the overall percentage of Catholics has held fairly steady — largely because of the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population. Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults today identify as Catholic, compared with 24% in 1955.

A troubling sign for both religions is that younger adults, particularly those aged 21 to 29, are less likely than older adults to identify as either Protestant or Catholic. This is partly because more young people identify as “other” or with other non-Christian religions, but mostly because of the large proportion — 33% — identifying with no religion.

Bottom Line

…Although weekly attendance among Protestants has been stable, the proportion of adults identifying as Protestants has shrunk considerably over the past half-century. And that trend will continue as older Americans are replaced by a far less Protestant-identifying younger generation.

All of this comes amid a broader trend of more Americans opting out of formal religion or being raised without it altogether. In 2016, Gallup found one in five Americans professing no religious identity, up from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

Read more at … http://news.gallup.com/poll/232226/church-attendance-among-catholics-resumes-downward-slide.aspx

ATTENDANCE & How many people go to church each Sunday? They told Gallup 40%. Reality only 20.4%

by the Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong, 11/9/16.

A: For years, the Gallup Research Organization has come up with a consistent figure — 40 percent of all Americans, or roughly 118 million people, who said they attended worship on the previous weekend. Recently, sociologists of religion have questioned that figure, saying Americans tend to exaggerate how often they attend.

By actually counting the number of people who showed up at representative sample of churches, two researchers, Kirk Hadaway and Penny Marler found that only 20.4 percent of the population, or half the Gallup figure, attended church each weekend.

As added proof for the accuracy of this smaller percentage of churchgoers, if 20.4% of Americans (approximately 63 million in 2010) attended the nation’s 350,000 congregations weekly then the average attendance would be 180 people per congregation which is almost exactly the figure that numerous research studies have found.

Want to know more?

RELIGION & 3/4 of Americans Identify as Christian

by Frank Newport, Gallup Poll, 12/24/14.

Story Highlights

  • About half of Americans are Protestant; a quarter are Catholic
  • 19% of Americans do not have a formal religious identity
  • Mormons attend religious services most frequently

PRINCETON, N.J. — About three in four Americans interviewed in 2014 name a Christian faith when asked for their religious preference, including 50% who are Protestants or another non-Catholic Christian religion, 24% who are Catholic and 2% who are Mormon.

Religious Preference in the United States, 2013 and 2014

These data are based on 173,490 interviews conducted from Jan. 2 through Dec. 21 as part of Gallup Daily tracking.

The proportion of Americans identifying as Protestant dropped by one percentage point from 2013 to 2014, while the Catholic and Mormon percentages stayed essentially the same.

About 6% of Americans identify with a non-Christian religion, including 2% who are Jewish, less than 1% who are Muslim and 3% who identify with other non-Christian religions. This leaves 16% who say they don’t have a religious preference, along with another 3% who don’t answer the question. This combined 19% without a formal religious identity is up one point from 2013.

The slight erosion of Americans’ identification as Protestant and concomitantly slight increase in the percentage with no religious preference exemplifies general trends in religious identity over the past decades. In the 1950s, Gallup surveys showed that up to 71% of Americans identified as Protestant, and small percentages had no religious identity. Then, as now, however, well more than 90% of Americans who express a religious preference identify themselves as Christians…

Read more at … http://www.gallup.com/poll/180347/three-quarters-americans-identify-christian.aspx

 

LEADERS and MANAGERS & What Is the Difference?

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This seminal article explains the difference between leaders and managers … and why you need both. Based upon 80,000 interviews with managers and leaders by the Gallup organization, this research shows leadership deals with setting the vision, while management is helping people develop so they can work together and reach that vision. The church has a lot of leaders – but few managers, so that there’s a lot of visions – without clear plans to attain them. Below are several quotes that define the difference between leadership and management.”

LEADERS: “Great leaders discover what is universal and capitalize on it. Their job is to rally people towards a better future. Leaders can succeed in this only when they can cut through differences of race, sex, age, nationality and personality, and using stories and celebrated heroes, tap into those very few needs we all share.”

MANAGERS: “Managers will succeed only when they can identify and deploy the differences among people, challenging each employee to excel in his or her own way.”

You can be BOTH: “That doesn’t mean a leader can’t be a manager or vice a versa. But to excel at one or both you must be aware of the very different skills each role requires…”

Click on the thumbnails to begin reading…

Read more at … http://hbr.org/2005/03/what-great-managers-do/ar/1

BIBLE & Three in Four in U.S. Still See the Bible as Word of God #GallupPoll

But 21%, near the 40-year high, consider it fables and history

by Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ — “Twenty-eight percent of Americans believe the Bible is the actual word of God and that it should be taken literally. This is somewhat below the 38% to 40% seen in the late 1970s, and near the all-time low of 27% reached in 2001 and 2009. But about half of Americans continue to say the Bible is the inspired word of God, not to be taken literally — meaning a combined 75% believe the Bible is in some way connected to God. About one in five Americans view the Bible in purely secular terms — as ancient fables, legends, history, and precepts written by man — which is up from 13% in 1976.

Which of the following statements comes closest to describing your views about the Bible?

The latest results are from Gallup’s 2014 update of its annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 8-11.

Fittingly, overall acceptance of the Bible as being divinely written or inspired closely approximates the proportion of Americans identifying themselves as Christian: 76% in Gallup’s 2013 religion aggregate. Meanwhile, the 21% viewing the Bible in secular terms nearly matches the combined 22% who identify with another religion or no religion.

Parsing the Debate Over Biblical Interpretation

Gallup’s long-standing trend question on biblical interpretation touches on two ongoing debates in Christian theology. One is about whether the words of the Bible came directly from God — essentially using the writers as scribes — or if they are the words of men, but guided by divine inspiration. The other debate involves the meaning of the words: whether they should be taken literally, or be viewed partly — or merely — as metaphors and allegories that allow for interpretation.”

Read more at … http://www.gallup.com/poll/170834/three-four-bible-word-god.aspx