I found this in the June 20th issue of The Economist magazine. I get it time to time. I first came across it back in the late 1970’s to early 80’s. It’s one of those publications that has been around for decades. This article is about church attendance in recessions. It’s titled, “No Rush For Pews” and can be found on page 32. It doesn’t’ give credit to who the author is.

No Rush for pews
A counter-intuitive finding from the pollsters

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama famously claimed that blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania clung to religion because of bitterness over lost jobs. Americans are now truly fearful, as unemployment has mounted and house prices fallen. Yet the theory that church attendance grows in times of economic crisis seems to be a myth.
Last year David Beckworth, an assistant professor of Economies at Texas State University, examined historic patters in the size of evangelical congregations and found that, during each recession cycle between 1968 and 2004, membership of evangelical churches jumped by 50%. This report filled the newspapers and TV news-shows at the height of the recession panic just before Christmas; but the report’s findings focused on evangelicals, and do not apply to Americans at large.
According to Frank Newport, the editor-in-chief of Gallup Poll, which interviews 30,000 American every month, “to guess that attendance would increase {in recessions} is a commonsense assumption with no basis in data.” John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which recently published a study on the correlation between church attendance and economics, has found no link in the past 20 years.
Interestingly, says Gallup, the percentage of Americans who tick the “no religious preference” box has steadily grown, from 0-3% 40 years ago to 12-15% now, while church attendance has remained steady.
Mr. Green says that the real spikes in attendance have occurred online times of national disaster, such as September 11th 2001, or the Cuban missile crisis. Mr. Newport goes even further, noting that, after September 11th, there was only a short-term blip in attendance. Evidently, this recession is “not providing a society wide worry about the future.”
Mr. Green explains that economic problems are uneven in their effects: “Perhaps the unemployed are going to church more, but others may be going less.” The financial crisis, then, may not seem as terrible to God-fearing Americans as the hype has suggested. As Mr. Green concludes, “We’ve had recessions before, and we always come out of them.” Or could it be that Mr. Obama’s victory has produced a sense that help is on the way?


So what is your take on this?
And please, no burning of the "pews" until after dinner...

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