CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

religious service attendance

August 24th, 2011
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You ask, we answer. I was asked yesterday about recent changes in the frequency of religious service attendance among young Americans. In general, participating in religious congregations correlates with civic engagement (see CIRCLE’s fact sheets on Religious Service Attendance and Civic Engagement Among 15 to 25 Year Olds and Young People of Faith More likely to be Engaged than Non-Religious Counterparts). Also, membership  in a congregation can be viewed as participation in civil society.

In 2010, according to the General Social Survey, young Americans (ages 18-29) said they attended religious services as follows:

Never: 27.7%
Less than once a year: 6.6%
Once a year: 14.4%
Several times a year: 9.1%
Once a month: 9.7%
Two-three times a month: 8.3%
Nearly every week: 5.8%
Every week: 14%
More than once a week: 4.4%

The “never” group is the largest, but the regular participants are also quite numerous. To put these 2010 figures in context, here is a pair of graphs (drawn from GSS data) showing religious service attendance since 1972 for older adults and young adults.

religious service attendance

Older adults are more likely than young adults to attend religious services at any given date. The proportion who “never attend” has risen in the past decade, especially for ages 18-29. The biggest declines have been in the weekly and more-than-weekly groups.

Note that in 2010, just 4.1% of young adults told the GSS that they did not believe in God, whereas 46.3% said they were sure that God exists. These figures reflected some decline in faith since that question was first asked in 1988, when 55% of young Americans were sure that God existed (whereas 1.4% felt sure there was no God).

— Peter Levine

One Response to “religious service attendance”

  1. religious service attendance | Peter Levine Says:

    […] Posted on August 24, 2011 by Peter I am in DC for NAEP meetings. My post of the day is over at the CIRCLE site, where I track the rates of religious attendance for young adults and older adults. Regular […]