New Poll Shows Church Membership Is Collapsing

( Most Americans don’t belong to a synagogue, mosque or church as of 2020, a recent Gallup poll found. In addition, most Americans said they don’t consider religion to be of utmost importance to them.

The company polled Americans on their personal thoughts on religion during 2020. For the most part, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of Americans didn’t change their personal views on religion.

The Pew Research Center also found Americans were more likely to say the coronavirus pandemic improved their faith in religion more than people in countries such as Canada, Italy and Spain.

One thing that did happen during the pandemic is in-person attendance at religious services declined slightly.

Gallup has been taking this poll since 1937, and for the first time, the percentage of American people who say they are a member of a synagogue, mosque or church is less than 50% (standing at 47%).

The breakdown of this includes that 36% of millennials belonged to a church. Half of Generation X belongs to one, and 58% of Baby Boomers do. Older Americans, either 75 or older, are members more, at 66%.

In all, just less than half (48%) of all Americans said religion is very important to them.

It’s a trend that’s been happening around the country for a few years now, according to Ryan Burge, who is a pastor in the American Baptist Church. Burge, who also teaches political science at Eastern Illinois University, told The Washington Post that institutional religion continues to decline throughout the U.S.

He said:

“We have to start thinking about what the world looks like in terms of politics, policy, social service. How do we feed the hungry, clothe the naked when Christians are half of what it was? Who picks up the slack, especially if the government isn’t going to?”

Young people don’t have a lot of trust in religious institutions, according to author Tara Isabella Burton. A lot of that has to do with the sexual abuse scandals that have involved the Catholic Church. Some even has to do with the support that former President Donald Trump got from the evangelical community, which further turned young people off from religion in general.

In addition, more people from multiple religious backgrounds are intermixing now than ever before. That has started to create new traditions with religion that don’t necessarily line up with pre-existing religious institutions.

Burton said:

“Why shouldn’t I pray or meditate or attend a liturgy, or perhaps I feel closer to the divine when I can do something privately rather than something that’s prescribed for me. It’s my own spin on it.”

The internet has also changed young people’s relationship with texts, hierarchy, as well as information in general. She explained:

“Existing trends in American religious life were exacerbated by generations that grew up in internet culture that celebrates ownership — the idea that you can re-create a mem or narrative. You have ownership over curating your own experience.”

This has resulted in a lack of focus, and a reduced need, on a religious institution telling you what is right and what is wrong, in other words.