EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Christians around the globe are celebrating Good Friday. But a new poll shows that for the first time in U.S. history, more people don’t go to church than do. It is a trend that started more in the 1990’s.
The Gallup poll says the latest numbers show church membership in the U.S. is at an all-time low and fewer people are saying they are affiliated with any particular denomination.
Statistics show in 2020, 47 percent of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. That’s down from 50 percent in 2018 and 70 percent in 1999.
Experts said there’s a rise among people who have no religious preference. Eastern Illinois Professor of Political Science Ryan Burge says they’re called “nones.”
“A lot of the fastest-growing churches in America are non-denominational churches. And those churches don’t place a high emphasis on traditional membership,” said Burge.
Burge said only ten percent of Americans say they have an atheistic or agnostic view of God.
Northwoods Church Pastor Bobby Pell said he knows why the numbers are dropping.
“They’re not moving back towards church, they’re going to move with culture. And that’s why I believe that if you do another Gallup poll in another couple of years, those numbers are going to increase the amount of people who have no religious affiliation,” said Pell.
Many have turned to virtual services the past year, but Matthew Higgins some people were drawn to virtual services before the pandemic.
“It is just simply easier to have church at home, and to you know, have your kids running around at home versus running around the sanctuary,” said Higgins.
But in-person worship is still preferred after an isolating year of quarantine and social distance.
“Church brings us together and brings the community together that this is a small village of people who all have the same belief, and we support one another,” said Higgins.
“It’s multi-generational. And so people here, like many churches, they love each other,” said Pell.
(This story was originally published on April 2, 2021)