Audit

Interest in churchgoing shows downward trend since 1958 peak.

Director, American Institute of Public Opinion

PRINCETON, N.J.—America's interest in churchgoing continued to decline in 1964, after a peak year in 1958.

Forty-five per cent of the adult civilian population attended church in a typical week this year. Last year the comparable figure was 46 per cent.

Peak years in church attendance came in 1955 and 1958, when 49 per cent attended in typical periods. Since 1959 there has been a general trend downward.

Today's figure translated into millions of adults indicates that approximately 49 mil­lion persons attended church weekly, on the average, during 1964. The comparable figure of 1963 was 50 million, based on an adult civilian population of approximately a million less than last year.

Following are the high lights of the Gal­lup poll annual audit of churchgoing in the U.S., gathered by the Gallup poll through nationwide surveys at seven peri­ods of the year:

*       Catholics were more faithful in their churchgoing than were Protestants.

*       Residents of the New England States—where the greatest proportion of Catholics live—scored highest in church attendance.

*       Contrary to what is probably a popular notion, persons with college training were more faithful in their attendance during this last year than were those with less formal education.

*       Negroes attended church in as great a propor­tion as did white people. It should be borne in mind, however, that Catholics—who are overwhelm­ingly of the white race—contribute largely to the figure recorded for white persons.

*       Persons in the while-collar occupation group were the best attenders. Manual workers had the poorest record.

*       Fewer younger adults went to church during a typical week than was the case with older persons.

*       Persons with incomes of 85,000 or more had a better attendance record than did those with smaller incomes.

*       In 1964, as in previous years, women were more faithful in attendance than were men.

Because no organization makes a nation­wide check of churchgoing, the Gallup poll had annually lent its fact-finding agency for this purpose.

That an estimate of the average attend­ance figure might be arrived at, surveys of representative samples of the adult pop­ulation were made during selected weeks in January, February, March, July, August, and November. A total of 11,327 adults were interviewed.

The following question was asked: "Did you, yourself, happen to attend church in the past seven days?"

One Third Went to Church in '40

Evidence that there has been a general leveling off in average church attendance —after an upward trend of fifteen years—is best seen in a comparison of adults per hundred in the population who attended during typical weeks in the past.

In 1940 slightly more than one third of the adult population (37 out of 100) had gone to church during the period surveyed. By 1955 the number of adults who went during the weeks investigated was 49 out of 100.

Here is the trend in the annual audits since 1955:

Attended Church in Typical Week

YEAR

PER CENT

YEAR

PER CENT

1955

49

1960

47

1956

46

1961

47

1957

47

1962

46

1958

49

1963

46

1959

47

1964

45

 

The following tables show the 1964 at­tendance record of major groupings in pop­ulation:

PER CENT ATTENDING

PER CENT ATTENDING

National

45

Jews

17

 

 

New England

59

Men

40

Middle Atlantic

47

Women

49

East Central

41

White

45

West Central

46

Negro

45

South

48

 

 

West

35

College

High school

50

44

FAMILY INCOME

 

Grade school

43

$7,000 and over

48

 

 

5,000 to 7.000

47

21-29

39

3,000 to 5,000

43

30-49

47

Under 3,000

43

50 years and over

56

 

 

 

 

CITY SIZE

 

Prof. and business

46

 

 

White collar

51

500,000 and over

45

Manual workers

43

50,000-500,000

46

Farmers

45

2,500-50,000

46

 

 

Under 2,500

 

Protestants

38

(not farm)

39

Catholics

71

Farm

45

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Director, American Institute of Public Opinion

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