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Sunday, August 21, 2011

No Longer Clinging to Their Religion

A study was presented Saturday at the annual convention of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas that had a possibly surprising finding. It seems while church attendance has declined in this country since the 1970s (no surprise there), "the rate of decline has been more than twice as high for less educated, lower and lower-middle class whites compared to more educated and presumably more affluent whites..." (the study was limited only to whites because church attendance among other ethnic groups is fairly consistent regardless their socio-economic status).
In the last four decades, monthly (or more) participation in religious services dropped from 50 percent of moderately educated (high school and perhaps some college) whites to 37 percent, according to the study, “No Money, No Honey, No Church: The Deinstitutionalization of Religious Life Among the White Working Class.” Attendance by the least educated (high school dropouts) dropped from 38 percent to 23 percent, by sociologists Wilcox, of the University of Virginia and Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University found.

Church attendance by higher-income whites with at least a bachelor’s degree barely dipped, from 50 percent to 46 percent.
The study's two authors, one conservative, the other liberal, offer various explanations for this curious dichotomy but none seem terribly persuasive to me. I wonder if it might be something else: the insufferably smug liberalism that supplanted mainstream protestant theology over the past forty years (and came close doing similarly in the Catholic Church) being mostly owned by upper and upper-middle class elites, could it be the working stiffs in the in the pews, having had their fill of sneering condescension from their social betters and after enduring countless sermons on "economic justice" and the like, have decided it is not worth the bother rousing themselves on Sunday mornings to go to church and be scolded, better to simply stay at home instead?

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