The share of Americans who attend religious services at least monthly has declined slightly since the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to a new Pew Research Center report that finds a change in habits among all religious Americans but especially among black Protestants.
The 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. Both groups were asked the same question: “Aside from weddings and funerals, how often do you attend religious services?” Americans were given six choices: more than once a week, once a week, once or twice a month, a few times a year, seldom and never.
Pew calls it a modest but measurable drop.
“It is not clear whether the dip is continuing a longer-term trend or mostly reflects the short-term impact of the pandemic on religious Americans, particularly Black Protestants,” Pew said in an online analysis.
The religious habits of Black Protestants have changed the most, according to the report, with 61 percent attending religious services at least monthly in 2019 and 46 percent attending religious services at least monthly in 2022.
“No other religious group has registered a decline of this magnitude,” Pew said.
Even so, the pandemic impacted the habits of all religious groups, including white evangelical Protestants (63 percent in 2019, 58 percent in 2022), non-evangelical white Protestants (31 percent in 2019, 28 percent in 2022), Catholics (37 percent in 2019, 34 percent in 2022) and Jewish individuals (26 percent in 2019, 23 percent in 2022).
Meanwhile, 20 percent of Americans say they attend religious services in-person less often than before the pandemic, compared to 7 percent who say they attend more often. Among white evangelicals – a Pew category – 23 percent say they attend less often, and 8 percent say they attend more often. Among black Protestants, 35 percent say they attend less often, and 15 percent say they attend more often.
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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.