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Sunday, July 9, 2023

Houses of Worship Are Unique in Civil Society

Jessica Grose at NYT:
I asked every sociologist I interviewed whether communities created around secular activities outside of houses of worship could give the same level of wraparound support that churches, temples and mosques are able to offer. Nearly across the board, the answer was no.

Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College, put it this way: “I can go play soccer on a Sunday morning and hang out with people from different races and different class backgrounds, and we can bond. But I’m not doing that with my grandparents and my grandchildren.” A soccer team can’t provide spiritual solace in the face of death, it probably doesn’t have a weekly charitable call and there’s no sense of connection to a heritage that goes back generations. You can get bits and pieces of these disparate qualities elsewhere, he said, but there’s no “one-stop shop” — at least not right now.

Jeffrey M Jones at Gallup:

U.S. church attendance has shown a small but noticeable decline compared with what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the four years before the pandemic, 2016 through 2019, an average of 34% of U.S. adults said they had attended church, synagogue, mosque or temple in the past seven days. From 2020 to the present, the average has been 30%, including a 31% reading in a May 1-24 survey.

The recent church attendance levels are about 10 percentage points lower than what Gallup measured in 2012 and most prior years.

David French at NYT:

Evangelicals are a particularly illustrative case. About half of self-identified evangelicals now attend church monthly or less often. They have religious zeal, but they lack religious community. So they find their band of brothers and sisters in the Trump movement. Even among actual churchgoing evangelicals, political alignment is often so important that it’s hard to feel a true sense of belonging unless you’re ideologically united with the people in the pews around you.