Is Religious Service Attendance Declining?

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Abstract:

Weekend attendance at conventional religious services remains the most common form of social religious action in American society. Debates about secularization, discussions of congregations as sites of political skill-building and mobilization, and research on religion's contributions to stocks of social capital often rely partly on claims about trends in religious service attendance. Yet, existing evidence does not definitively establish whether attendance at religious services declined in American society from the 1950s to the present. We examine the trend in religious service attendance between 1990 and 2006. Evidence from several sources converges on the same answer: weekly attendance at religious services has been stable since 1990. However one reads the evidence about trends between World War II and 1990, the recent past has been a time of stability. This has important implications for theories of religious change.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2007.00367.x

Affiliations: 1: Stanley Presser is Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland., Email: spresser@socy.umd.edu 2: Mark Chaves is Professor of Sociology, Religion, and Divinity at Duke University., Email: mac58@soc.duke.edu

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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