Robert D. Putnam’s book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” released in 2000, explored the decline of social capital and how trends showed Americans were avoiding joining local social groups and clubs and were withdrawing from civic engagement.
A similar trend has affected bodies of worship in more contemporary times, as Gallup recently reported membership in churches has dropped to below 50% for the first time in more than 80 years.
“U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21st century,” a news.gallup.com story said.
But the numbers have especially plummeted in recent decades. Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend, the story reported. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. Twenty-one percent of Americans do not identify with any one religion, the story said, referring to research in the last three years.
By Don Munsch • [email protected]