Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trends in church attendance

This chart shows the 1972-2006 trend in church attendance (GSS, N = 50,496). 2006 saw the highest share of people in 35 years who never attend--22.7%. You can see that the decline is in the flesh-colored area (?, I'm a man--I don't know colors, plus "flesh-colored" is racist) which is the percent who attend weekly. It has fallen from 28.8% in 1972 to 18.7% in 2006.

If the same trend continues, in another 35 years over 30% of Americans will be unchurched.


  1. I call that GSS color "salmon". I guess that implies a little brighter pink than what is actually displayed, but it tends to get the message across, I think. "Flesh" works too, although I immediately think of a bright yellow when it's written--too much of the Simpsons in the past, I suppose!

  2. Anonymous9:01 AM

    I agree that the never-attenders are up significantly, but your summary of the trend among every-weekers (28.8% > 18.7%) exaggerates the fall in that category. Eyeballing your chart, 1972 looks like a bit of an outlier on the high side. I think we're looking at a decline of more like one-fifth then one-third.


  3. Is there a fluctuation that is occurring? I notice that the previous peak (whether it is an outlier is another story) in the early 70's. Could we chalk up the low church attendance to all the other social factors that where happening at that time and leading up to it (e.g. the Vietnam War, feminist movement, and racial movement)?


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