America’s Religious Involvement

According to Chaves, American religious involvement has “softened” overall. Tracking involvement in religion is not an easy thing to do because people are not always truthful when asked if they have been to church in the past seven days. Although, when asked to do a time log, we find that less people go to church. The American Time Use Survey in 2005 reported 26% of people went to church while the General Social Survey, using the question, came out with 38%. Overall, time diaries are more accurate then direct questions. The evidence shows that attendance has not gone up. The only number that has gone up is the percent of people who never attend religious services; going from 11% in 1990 to 22% in 2008. This could point to the fact that the percentage of Americans that are not raised in a religious household has increased. If a person is not raised in a religious household, they are more likely to not be religious later in life. This shows that there will be a generational shift with our generation and involvement with churches. Another reason religious involvement could have “softened” is because the American household structure has changed. One of the most religiously involved demographic groups are a married couples with children, which is a shrinking proportion of American society. More families are considered “untraditional” now, such as single moms or couples without children. It could also be due to the bad name religious leaders have gotten in the past 10 years after the national publicity about child sexual abuse by priests. People are less likely to say their involvment with the church if they feel like majority of society is judging them due to all the bad press. Overall, church involvement has not increased over the past years.