Catholic church weekly attendance in the US continues its decline, survey shows

A new survey has revealed that weekly attendance among Catholic churches in the U.S. continues to decline, while Sunday service attendance in Protestant churches has only slightly dropped.

(Reuters/Marco Bello)People hear mass at a Catholic church but a new survey says Sunday mass attendance has been on the decline.

Gallup released its latest data culled from 2014 to 2017 that showed an average of 39 percent of Catholics go to church every week. That number dipped from 45 percent in a previous survey conducted from 2005 to 2008.

Protestant churches, on the other hand, saw just a one percent drop in church attendance during the same time period (2014 to 2017). At least 45 percent of Protestant churchgoers still follow through their Sunday obligations.

The declining trend in Catholic churches has been observed over four decades ago, when weekly attendance dropped sharply to 50 percent in the 1970s, from 75 percent in the 1950s. The survey also revealed that young people under the age of 30 have not been attending church services regularly.

In recent times, only 25 percent of American youngsters go to weekly mass in a Catholic church, while this number was up to at least 73 percent in the 1950s. Among young Protestant churchgoers, on the other hand, 33 percent said that they go to mass regularly.

The numbers among other age groups, however, have also been steadily declining. The Gallup survey stated, "For the first time, a majority of Catholics in no generational group attend weekly."

Gallup conducted the survey among 1,188 to 4,295 Catholics and 2,649 to 11,656 Protestants and compared the data from 1955 to 2017. The survey did not provide any reason for the decline.

Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, enumerated some of the potential reasons. Among these is the continuing absence of religion in elementary and high school, the hostile environment in higher education towards Christians, the proliferation of "libertinism" in pop culture, as well as generally lowered expectations from the clergy in Catholic churches.