Catholic Church Attendance Continues to Drop

Ralph Arvensen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

1950 to 1970 was the worst for the Catholic Church

Fewer American Catholics regularly attend church compared to the past. A Gallup poll found 39 percent of Catholics reported attending church between 2014 and 2017. The figure is markedly lower than the 45 percent average reported from 2005 to 2008. The extent of this drop is stark if one considers the numbers in 1955. 75 percent attended church during that period.

Practicing Catholics in 1955 among all age groups broadly complied with their weekly mass attendance. About 3 Catholics in 4, of all ages, admitted to attending church every week. All this changed from the 1960s onwards when young Catholic attendance slowed. This decline only became faster during the 1970s.

Gallup crunched the numbers in 2009. The company reported that the 1950 to 1970 period was the time when the Catholic Church suffered its most significant decline. The number of people who attended church during the past seven days dipped by 20 percent. The decline continued at the rate of four points every decade through the middle of the 1990s before the mid-2000s. The south trend from that time resumed, with the attendance percentage during the first week of April dipping by another six points in the course of 2008 to 2018.

The Catholic League explains this phenomenon. They cite several reasons, the foremost among them the reduced role religion plays not only in secondary education but also in elementary. The church also alleges that higher education is actively against religion. Other factors include pop culture disseminated by music and movies. The rise of moral relativism, otherwise described as moral absolutes denial, is also blamed.

Critics say the church has sidestepped the real issues maligning the church: anti-women and anti-LGBTQ views held by officials of the church. They say another excellent reason is the realization that it is not a mandatory requirement to attend church if one wants to be a good citizen.

The statistics were extracted from multiple surveys done by Gallup. The initial review was done in the 1950s and continued to the present. The sample size was sufficiently large to analyze church attendance among both Catholics and Protestants. Age patterns present within these groups can be subjected to a closer examination.

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