American Church Membership Drops Below 50% for First Time in History
Gallup’s eight-decade trend sees historic low
Church membership in the United States has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since polling began, according to a new Gallup study.
“Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend."
“In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.”
“The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference,” Gallup notes.
“Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.”
The polling group noted that despite the drop, America “remains a religious nation, with more than seven in 10 affiliating with some organized religion.”
The decline in church membership is attributed to the growing number of Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated.
Gallup noted that less than half of Americans have formal membership with a church.
But given the trends among the new generation of liberal Americans, the decline is expected to continue.
“While it is possible that part of the decline seen in 2020 was temporary and related to the coronavirus pandemic, continued decline in future decades seems inevitable, given the much lower levels of religiosity and church membership among younger versus older generations of adults,” they said.
31% of millennials are religiously unaffiliated, according to the poll.
The number is up 22% just 10 years ago, which shows an obvious downtrend.
33% of Generation Z have no religious preference.
As Chrisitanity.com reported:
Most social researchers agree that Millennials and Generation Z members are less likely to commit to any institution than are older generations. In fact, one source defines the word “commitment” in this way, “an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.”
According to The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, Millennials are notoriously prone to delay serious personal relationships, marriage, and career choices until later in life.
Likewise, according to Generation Z: A Century in the Making, Generation Z exhibits a similar lack of commitment to established institutions. It’s no wonder that young generations are deciding not to become church members. They are staying away from other institutions as well.
The outlet also notes that modern culture does not see the church as an important part of their lives and views it negatively.
As Gallup reported:
The decline in church membership, then, appears largely tied to population change, with those in older generations who were likely to be church members being replaced in the U.S. adult population with people in younger generations who are less likely to belong.
The change has become increasingly apparent in recent decades because millennials and Gen Z are further apart from traditionalists in their church membership rates (about 30 points lower) than baby boomers and Generation X are (eight and 16 points, respectively).
Each year, the younger generations are making up an increasingly larger part of the entire U.S. adult population.