Clergy explore loss of church membership

by | Jun 10, 2021 | Latest

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.

For the full story, see our June 10 issue or subscribe online.

By Don Munsch[email protected]

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