Nearly four in 10 Americans report that they attended religious services in the past seven days. Americans' report of their weekly church attendance has varied over the years, but it is close now to where it was in 1940 and 1950.
The most religious era of the past 74 years -- at least based on this measure of weekly church attendance -- was from the mid-to-late 1950s into the early 1960s, when, at some points, almost half of American adults said they had attended religious services in the past seven days. During this era, marked by the high fertility rates and family formation that was the foundation of the baby boomer generation, the percentage who reported that religion was important also reached high points, and almost all Americans identified with a religion.
An average of 56% of Americans this year say religion is "very important" in their lives, while another 22% said it is "fairly important," and 22% said it is "not very important."
Americans' assessment of the importance of religion in their lives generally has been stable over the past four decades. As is the case with self-reported church attendance, there have been year-to-year fluctuations in this measure of religious importance. The 56% who say religion is very important in 2013 is one percentage point below the average across all surveys conducted since 1978 and is higher than it was at several points across that time span. At the same time, Americans during the 1950s and 1960s were much more likely to say religion was very important.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Many posts have discussed the role of religion in American public life. Gallup reports: