Gallup: Church membership continues decline in U.S.

Number of people who say they have no religion has increased

St. Mary’s historic church in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Church membership in the United States has dropped considerably in the last two decades, and the number of people who say they have no religion has increased, a new report from Gallup shows.

The decline in “membership” of a specific church or parish community appears especially pronounced among Catholics and young people.

Since 1998-2000, the percentage of Catholics who say they belong to a church has dropped by 13 points. In 1998-2000, 76% of Catholics said they were members of a church. By 2016-2018, this figure had dropped to 63%.

Church “membership” is difficult to tabulate among Catholics. Parish membership is primarily defined in canon law according to residence in the territory of a parish.

While many parishes operate registration programs for sacramental or pastoral purposes, “registration” does not actually define or confirm belonging to the parish community, which is conferred de facto by domicile within the territory of the parish.

In Catholic theology, Church “membership” is not ordinarily defined by registration or self-identity.

Even without taking this into account, according to the data American Catholics still appear belong to churches at higher rates than nondenominational Protestants. Only 57 percent of Americans who call themselves “nondenominational” are members of a church.

Conversely, Hispanics and Democrats both dropped 23 percentage points in church membership over the last 20 years. Democrats dropped from 71 percent to 48 percent, and Hispanics from 68 to 45. Those between the ages of 18 and 29 were not far behind, declining by 22 points from 1998.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.

Comments

  1. Not very clear. By ‘church’ do they mean belongs to a particular parish? If that’s the case, then 37% of Catholics identify as such without belonging to a parish.

  2. St. Christopher says

    What can you expect when the institutional Church itself rejects its own glorious Tradition, its own sacred liturgy, in favor of one seeking to appease Protestants and all “the others?” Catholics are not stupid. Laity sees and understands that Church leadership (no, not all) is playing us for suckers. Church leadership bleats about Immigration, labor rights, sexual rights (yes they do, equating “being respectful” with embracing all of the homosexual lifestyle), and gender confusion, while refusing to teach the beautiful and straightforward Gospel. Many people choose to leave the Church altogether, rather than fight to return to Tradition. Do not do this; it is your Faith!

  3. William Robert says

    The decline in identification with a specific Church or denomination is not surprising when one considers the very troubling state of affairs in Christianity in the USA: sex abuse by clergy, support for political leaders who advocate policies contrary to the Gospel, hypocrisy, scandal, lies and cover ups. God Save the Church!

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.