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  Chapter Six:

  Religious Membership
  Roman Catholics
  Other Religions
  Religious Attendance
  Religious Attitudes



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Religious Attendance

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Church attendance remained fairly level in the latter decades of the century.
Little reliable information on attendance at religious services in the early part of the century is available. Beginning in 1939, however, national surveys repeatedly asked a cross-section of American adults, “Did you, yourself, happen to attend church or synagogue in the last seven days, or not?” As the chart shows, approximately 40 percent of adults answered in the affirmative, but the responses fluctuated over the years, with no discernible trend. 

Responses to survey questions about religious beliefs and private devotions revealed that the overwhelming majority of Americans are religious. The percentage professing to believe in God ranged between 94 percent and 99 percent during the second half of the century. Nine out of ten respondents reported that they prayed privately, most of them daily, and similar numbers believed in an afterlife. At the end of the century, religious support groups numbered in the hundreds of thousands. 

Women reported more church attendance than men, and attendance for both men and women increased with age. There was more churchgoing in the Midwest than the West, in rural areas than in cities, among blacks than among whites. But income and education were poor predictors of church attendance. In most surveys, people who went to college reported slightly higher church attendance than those who did not, although the college-educated tended to be more skeptical in their beliefs.

Chapter 6 chart 5

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

Princeton Research Center for the Study of American Religion, Religion in America (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982), page 44; SA 1999, table 89.


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