The State of the American Church
The American church has seen a decline over the years in terms of giving and attendance. Younger generations tend to drift away from religious activities, as the percentage of those that do not have any religious affiliations increases. The Muslim population in the US is growing fast. Although there is no data that demonstrates the growth/decline of attendance, about 43% attend weekly services. In Islam, women do not have to attend prayers, but men are expected to do so.
THE STATE OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH
- Churches, synagogues, and mosques are sustained by loyal and active members. These institutions rely heavily on membership to stay open and to thrive. Over the years, there has been a decline in membership.
- The main reason why people go to religious services is to feel closer to God. Other reasons include, to be a better person, to expose children to the faith, and for comfort. The main reason why people do not attend services is that they practice their faith differently.
- The key factor in the decline of membership is the rise in the numbers of people that do not have any religious preference. Within the span of about 20 years, this percentage rose from 8% to 19%.
- In 2000, 90% of the US population was affiliated to a religion. By 2018, we see this number drop to 77%, as demonstrated in the chart below.
- Another factor in the decline of church membership is religious interests of the different generations.
- Older people tend to have a religious affiliation. In the chart below, we can see how the number declines with every next generation, with millennials having the lowest percentage: 68%.
- The chart below demonstrates the drop in church membership. Church membership was gradually declining from 1938 through to 1998, with a few slight dips and a few inclines. The greatest difference is noted in the past 20 years, with a drop of 20%.
- This data is collected from those who already have religious affiliations.
The American Church: Giving
- Religious giving has dropped by 50% since 1990. Although charitable giving has seen an increase in the recent past, the percentage given to religious entities has noted a decline.
- One major factor is that people who give look for opportunities to impact society. Unfortunately, they are not looking to their religious structures such as churches to do so. In fact, they are looking for options within the non-profit sector, which has witnessed an explosive growth in the past few years.
AMERICAN CHURCH: ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS
- Christians are now giving less than they did in the Great Depression, with the average giving at approximately 3.3% of their income. As of 2018, Christians gave 2.5% of their income to their church.
- Christians generally still believe that tithing, giving 10% of one's income, is a religious command. About 50% of protestant church-goers say that they may tithe to a Christian ministry instead of their church.
- 247 million people in the US say they are Christians. However, only 1.5 million people tithe. This is not even 1%.
- The Catholic church has seen a gradual decline in attendance over the years, from 75% in 1955 to 39% in 2017. The chart below comparatively demonstrates how the protestant church has been relatively constant through the years.
- Although data on the percentage of attendance has remained constant, the protestant percentage of the US population has seen a sharp decline from 71% in 1955 to 47% in 2017. The Catholic church has remained relatively constant with a slight decline from 24% to 22%.
- Over the years, Christianity multiplied to Christianities, with the rise of denominations such as Baptists, Methodists, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonists, among others. Other religious innovators rose, establishing new sects and redefining Christianity.
- Although the protestant church was believed to be an integral part to the growth and establishment of the US democracy, the church and the state were still kept separate, based on the constitution.
- Research shows that 6-in-10 Christian churches are experiencing a plateau or a decline in attendance. Conversion to Christianity is not the source of those that are growing fast. About 11% of churches have 250 or more people attending services, 57% have about 100, while 21% have less than 50 attendees.
- Jewish people make up 1.9% of the population with religious affiliations.
- Synagogue attendance is also witnessing a decline, with the congregation mostly older. This is a trend that has been noted across all religions, especially in the developed, high income world.
- Over the past decade, the American Jewish population has lost 300,000 members. This decline is expected to continue over time.
- Reform congregations have a median age of 54 with only 17% attending weekly services. Additionally, 80% of the children who grow up in these activities do not come back after they graduate high school.
- Muslims make up 0.9% of the total population with religious affiliations. 43% of US Muslims attend weekly services, 12% attend once a month, and 20% attend a few times in a year, mostly when there are special occasions and celebrations.
- Mosque attendance is compulsory for men. 63% attend at least once or twice a month, compared to 46% of Muslim women.
- Islam is the fastest growing religion, globally. In the US, the number of Muslims in the US grew from 2.35 million in 2007 to 3.45 million in 2017. Additionally, Islam has a much younger average age of 24, whereas the average age of non-Muslims is 32.
This research was unable to find data on the increase/decrease in the weekly attendance of mosques over time. However, we came across data that demonstrated that there is an increase in the Islam population in the US. For this reason, we can conclude that this would most likely result in an increase in mosque attendance.