"Seattle--Chinese Southern Baptist Cross" by Joe Mabel / CC BY-SA 3.0

U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades

Apr 23, 2019

By Jeffrey M. Jones

As Christian and Jewish Americans prepare to celebrate Easter and Passover, respectively, Gallup finds the percentage of Americans who report belonging to a church, synagogue or mosque at an all-time low, averaging 50% in 2018.

U.S. church membership was 70% or higher from 1937 through 1976, falling modestly to an average of 68% in the 1970s through the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen an acceleration in the drop-off, with a 20-percentage-point decline since 1999 and more than half of that change occurring since the start of the current decade.

The decline in church membership is consistent with larger societal trends in declining church attendance and an increasing proportion of Americans with no religious preference.

This article compares church membership data for the 1998-2000 and 2016-2018 periods, using combined data from multiple years to facilitate subgroup analysis. On average, 69% of U.S. adults were members of a church in 1998-2000, compared with 52% in 2016-2018.

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One comment on “U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades”

  • The old European churches are actually very macabre places.  They are basically grave yards with large numbers of people buried underneath, around and inside the buildings.

    The basements are full of skeletons, the altars are full of bones (which they call ‘relics’) and the paved streets and squares outside are paved over graves.

    The old lady is the same.  It is an impressive old building yes, but with a big ‘yuck’ factor, same as all the other old churches.


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