Why Falling Religious Attendance Could Be Increasing Deaths of Despair

Feb 6, 2023 by

by Joe Carter, TGC:

The Story: In America, attendance at religious services is falling and deaths of despair are increasing. Could the two trends be connected?

The Background: A recently released survey found the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated ongoing trends in religious change. The number of Americans who never attend religious services increased significantly over the past two years, with roughly one in three American adults now reporting they never attend religious services. Young people, those who are single, and self-identified political liberals ceased attending religious services at much higher rates than other Americans did.

In spring 2022, 33 percent of Americans reported they never attend religious services, compared to one in four (25 percent) who reported this before the pandemic. Those who were religiously engaged enough to attend church frequently were less likely to be affected by the change. Before the pandemic, 26 percent of Americans reported attending religious services at least once a week, similar to the 24 percent who did so in spring 2022.

The people who still come to church tend to be of the same general demographic: political conservatives, adults aged 50 and older, women, married adults, and those with a college degree were more likely to attend than other groups in both periods. Adults under age 50, adults with less education than a college degree, Hispanic Catholics, black Protestants, and white mainline Protestants saw the largest declines in attendance.

Why It Matters:

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