A recent poll from Gallup found a slight increase in the rates at which the faithful attend weekly services, but they have a long way to go.
While the faithful have been seen returning to the pews in 2023, church attendance has a long way to go before it reaches pre-pandemic levels. A recent poll from Gallup is highlighting the continued ramifications of the pandemic on churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples, which can still be seen in parishes nationwide. The data was collected from 1,011 US adults aged 18+ during the month of May 2023.
When asked if they had attended their faith’s religious services in the last seven days, only 31% of respondents indicated that they had, which has risen from 30% in 2020, but fallen from 34%, in 2019. Furthermore, about 5% said they continue to attend services virtually, suggesting the portion of the faithful attending services in person could be as low as 26%.
The peak of attendance came in the 1950s, when an estimated 50% of the nation was active in religious services.
Attendance rates were found to be lower in every “subgroup” that was examined by Gallup. Two of the largest faith groups in America, Protestants and Catholics, have both failed to return to pre-pandemic attendance rates. Protestants, however, seem to have fared a little better, only falling from 44% to 40%, whereas Catholics have fallen from 37% to 30%, meaning less than a third of Catholics attend weekly services.
Similar trends were seen when the data was broken down by political affiliation. Before the pandemic, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents attended religious services at a rate of 45%, 30%, and 28% respectively. Now, both Republicans and Democrats have fallen by 5 points, while Independents have fallen by 3.
The largest change found in the survey was in the prevalence of virtual attendance of religious services. The numbers have almost completely flipped from the early days of the pandemic, when nearly 30% were watching services on TV or the internet, with only 3-5% attending in person. Currently, of those who attend religious services weekly, 84% do so in person, while 16% continue to utilize virtual services.