Tag Archives: church attendance

Is church attendance really declining?


From The Wilson Quarterly‘s summary of “The Prophet Motive” by John Lamont in the April edition of First Things:

“During the Revolution, less than one-fifth of Americans claimed church membership. By the mid-19th century, one-third did so. Today, more than half are church members, and approximately 40 percent attend church once a week (a number that has remained fairly constant since at least the 1930s).”

Why is that?

“Without state support of any particular faith [in the U.S.], religions competed and innovated and, over time, Americans grew more observant.”

This presents a specific counterpoint:

“The American example contradicts Max Weber and Émile Durkheim’s secularization thesis, which holds that as societies industrialize and advance technologically, populations abandon religion—if you know how to irrigate, you don’t pray for rain.”

In the U.S., we really know how to irrigate, yet we’re arguably, comparably, a religious nation.