The reasons people who identify as Christian and hold Christian beliefs choose not to attend church vary. For some, dissatisfaction with their church options and the behavior of church members is a key factor in their decision to leave church, but for a sizable number of others, there is no single catalyst; they simply fall out of the habit of going, according to Davis and Graham’s research. The hectic pace of contemporary life, complete with Sunday work schedules, makes it difficult for some people to attend church if they want to keep their jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on an average weekend day, 29 percent of the workforce is at work. Restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores, and retail outlets are staffed each Sunday morning by a lot of people who might identify as Christian but who definitely won’t be at church that day.
The result is that a lot of people who still identify as Christian no longer go to church. Even as early as 2014, the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study found that 30 percent of self-identified Southern Baptists “seldom” or “never” attended church—and that was before the “great dechurching” accelerated after the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic. The exodus of millions of Americans from churches will have a profound influence on the nation’s politics, and not in the way that many advocates of secularism might expect. Rather than ending the culture wars, the battle between a rural Christian nationalism without denominational moorings and a northern urban Social Gospel without an explicitly Christian framework will become more intense.