A new study found that some 40 percent of self-identifying evangelicals never, seldom or just attend church once a year.
In 2008, the number of evangelicals who said they never or seldom attend church was 16.1 percent, according to a poll from Ryan Burge, a political science teacher at Eastern Illinois University. Those in 2008 who said they attend at least once a year was 13 percent, with a total of about 30 percent saying they never, seldom, or just attend church once a year.
Even more evidence here that "evangelical" is not a religious term anymore.— Ryan Burge 📊 (@ryanburge) April 8, 2021
Among self-identified evangelicals in 2008:
16.1% reported never or seldom attending.
58.6% reported weekly or more attendance.
26.7% never or seldom (+10 pts)
49.9% weekly or more (-11 pts) pic.twitter.com/xukBAX77ue
Among self-identified evangelicals, nearly 50 percent said they attend church weekly or more. In comparison, in 2008, weekly or more attendance at church was 58.6 percent.
In a story covering the data by Relevant Magazine, the outlet asserted that the term “evangelical” may increasingly be changing meaning as people identify with the term but seem to offer their own interpretations of it.
Of Burge’s study, Relevant said in its article that “it’s also a reminder of just how loose evangelicals are with what makes them an evangelical.”
For years, the outlet reports Burge as saying, evangelicalism has been defined by the Bennington Quadrilateral, which says “the four markers of evangelicalism are Biblicism (a high regard for the Bible), Crucicentrism (a focus on Jesus’ death on the cross), Conversionism (a belief that everyone needs to be evangelized) and Activism (prioritizing expressing the good news of Jesus through social action)."
Burge also looked at evangelicals and political leanings. He found that in 2008, 53 percent of evangelicals identified as Republicans. Of that, 32 percent said they considered themselves “strong Republicans.” Between 2008 to 2017, the number of “strong Republicans” fell and stayed at about 25 percent.
In 2018, the number who said they were “strong Republicans” jumped to 32 percent.
“So, the headline still stands – self-identified evangelicalism is not in decline. But self-identified evangelicals have lower levels of religiosity now than at any point in the last decade,” Burge wrote in a blog post in late 2020.
Photo courtesy: John Mark Smith/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.