Poll: Church membership in US plummets over past 20 years

The Associated Press

April 18, 2019

By David Crary

The percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has plunged by 20 percentage points over the past two decades, hitting a low of 50 percent last year, according to a new Gallup poll. Among major demographic groups, the biggest drops were recorded among Democrats and Hispanics.

Gallup said church membership was 70 percent in 1999 – and close to or higher than that figure for most of the 20th century. Since 1999, the figure has fallen steadily, while the percentage of U.S. adults with no religious affiliation has jumped from 8 percent to 19 percent.

Among Americans identifying with a particular religion, there was a sharp drop in church membership among Catholics – dropping from 76 percent to 63 percent over the past two decades as the Church was buffeted by clergy sex-abuse scandals. Membership among Protestants dropped from 73 percent to 67 percent over the same period.

Among Hispanic Americans, church membership dropped from 68 percent to 45 percent since 2000, a much bigger decline than for non-Hispanic white and black Americans.

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