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Church Attendance Has Fallen Since Pandemic, Gallup Says: Americans Got 'Out of the Habit'

Michael Foust | Crosswalk Headlines Contributor | Updated: Jun 29, 2023
Church Attendance Has Fallen Since Pandemic, Gallup Says: Americans Got 'Out of the Habit'

Church Attendance Has Fallen Since Pandemic, Gallup Says: Americans Got 'Out of the Habit'

For the second time in recent months, a national poll indicates that church attendance has experienced a slight dip since the start of the pandemic.

The latest survey from Gallup shows that an average of 30 percent of Americans from 2020 to the present said they had attended religious services the past seven days, compared to an average of 34 percent of U.S. adults who answered that way from 2016 through 2019. In May of this year, 31 percent of Americans answered that way. In Gallup’s survey, “religious services” includes churches, synagogues, mosques and temples.

By comparison, in 2012, it was 40 percent.

“The recent church attendance levels are about 10 percentage points lower than what Gallup measured in 2012 and most prior years,” Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones wrote in an online analysis. “... It is not clear if the pandemic is the cause of the reduced attendance or if the decline is a continuation of trends that were already in motion. However, the temporary closure of churches and ongoing COVID-19 avoidance activities did get many Americans out of the habit of attending religious services weekly.”

Attendance is down among every major subgroup, including Protestants (44 percent to 40 percent) and Catholics (37 percent to 30 percent).

In March, a new Pew Research Center report found that 30 percent of Americans in 2022 said they attended religious services at least once a month, compared to 33 percent of Americans who answered that way in 2019, the year before the pandemic.

The pandemic, Jones wrote, had a “profound effect on U.S. society,” and it “continues to have an impact in some ways.”

“The coronavirus pandemic caused millions of Americans to avoid public gatherings, and many houses of worship were closed to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” Jones wrote. “Still, Americans were able to worship remotely through services broadcast over the internet, television or radio. Most of those who reported attending religious services in 2020 said they did so virtually. Even accounting for remote attendance, however, church attendance figures were lower than in prior years.”

Related:

U.S. Church Attendance Has Declined, Slightly, Since Pandemic Started: Pew

Photo courtesy: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/cyano66


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.



Church Attendance Has Fallen Since Pandemic, Gallup Says: Americans Got 'Out of the Habit'