Church attendance is declining in America, and it spells disastrous implications for a nation that is already spiritually on edge.
According to new data from Gallup, U.S. church attendance remains below pre-lockdown levels. Just 31 percent of adults surveyed this year told Gallup they had attended a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple in the last seven days. Gallup conducted the poll between May 1-24.
“In the four years before the pandemic, 2016 through 2019, an average of 34% of U.S. adults said they had attended church, synagogue, mosque or temple in the past seven days,” the polling firm reported. “From 2020 to the present, the average has been 30%.”
The last time church attendance reached 40 percent was in 2012.
Not only are Americans attending religious services less in the aftermath of pandemic lockdowns, but they’re reporting religion as far less important.
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) published a new study in May highlighting a decline in religious importance to Americans’ lives. In a survey of more than 6,600 U.S. adults across all 50 states interviewed last summer, just 16 percent said, “religion is the most important thing in their life,” down from 20 percent who said the same in 2013. Last summer, 36 percent said “religion is one among many important things,” down from 43 percent who said the same in 2013.
Twenty-nine percent said “religion is not important to them” compared to just 19 percent a decade ago.
Another poll from the Wall Street Journal out in March showed the number of Americans who view religion as “very important” to them declined from 62 percent in 1998 to 39 percent today.
The nation’s religious decline coincides with a lifestyle crisis that’s left Americans desperately reaching for pills engineered by big pharma for every apparent problem.
Nearly 80 million Americans are taking a litany of psychiatric medicines ranging from antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to drugs for ADHD, according to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International. Last summer, The New York Times declared the post-lockdown era “The Age of The Distracti-pression.”
“In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 15.8 percent of American adults took prescription pills for mental health. During the pandemic, the National Center for Health Statistics teamed up with the Census Bureau to carry out quick online ‘pulse’ surveys and tracked mental health prescription pill use,” the Times reported. “The numbers they turned up echo what we already sense: We are depressed, anxious, tired and distracted. What’s new is this: Almost a quarter of Americans over the age of 18 are now medicated for one or more of these conditions.”
Despite the cocktail of pharmaceuticals flooding the population, Americans are reporting higher and higher rates of anxiety and depression.
According to Gallup, in May, depression rates reached record highs, with nearly 1 in 3 U.S. adults reporting a diagnosis at least once in their lifetime. Nearly 18 percent said they were currently under treatment.
Americans are also anxious. The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey found more than 32 percent, or nearly 1 in 3, U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder.
Several studies show, however, that faith can serve as the antidote to anxiety and depression.
A 2014 study by a Columbia University psychologist found spirituality and religion can protect individuals from depression by thickening the brain cortex. The same researcher found three years earlier that among adults who reported placing a high importance on religion or spirituality, 76 percent were less likely to suffer from a major depressive episode.
In a systematic review of the quantitative literature up to 2010 surrounding spirituality and depression, Duke University psychiatrist Harold Koenig found that more than 60 percent of studies showed a significant association between religious involvement and less depression. Nearly half found a significant reduction in anxiety.
An American commitment to the pew, any pew, can go a long way toward alleviating the nation’s epidemic of mental decline.