A Gallup poll decades in the making shows U.S. church membership falling below 50% for the first time since the organization first measured attendance in 1937.
Forthy-seven percent of Americans now belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque in 2020, which itself was a 3% drop from the 50% membership in 2018, according to the poll.
“The following analysis of declines in church membership relies on three-year aggregates from 1998-2000 (when church membership averaged 69%), 2008-2010 (62%), and 2018-2020 (49%). The aggregates allow for reliable estimates by subgroup, with each three-year period consisting of data from more than 6,000 U.S. adults.”
A breakdown of the results shows a precipitous drop from the 73% church membership in 1937.
“Political conservatives, Republicans, married adults and college graduates” have the highest rate of attendance, while only 36% of millennials are affiliated with a place of worship, according to the poll.
“The two major trends driving the drop in church membership — more adults with no religious preference and falling rates of church membership among people who do have a religion — are apparent in each of the generations over time,” Gallup added. “Since the turn of the century, there has been a near doubling in the percentage of traditionalists (from 4% to 7%), baby boomers (from 7% to 13%) and Gen Xers (11% to 20%) with no religious affiliation.”
Catholic participation at Mass has dropped 18 points — 76% to 58% — while Protestant church attendance has slid from 73% to 64%.