Confusing messages in Church attendance reports
There have been a number of conflicting news reports in the last few days about what is happening to Church attendances. A survey by the Gallup Organization reported in Catholic World News shows that Church attendance by US Catholics has dropped during the past year. CWN reports "For the first time in the decades-long history of the Gallup survey, Protestants now attend weekly church services at a higher rate than Catholics, 47 percent to 41 percent." Meanwhile here in Australia the Sydney Morning Herald carried an upbeat report saying that Church attendances were up on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while a number of Murdoch newspapers carried a story on Sunday saying: "The mainstream churches face an uncertain future as Australians turn away from religion in droves. Religious scholars have warned that Christian churches have become so out of touch with modern life that their end could come within two decades."
The CWN report read: "Church attendance by US Catholics has dropped during the past year, with the clergy sex abuse crisis as the most likely cause, according to a survey by the Gallup Organization."
"The survey released December 18 said the number of Catholics who said they had attended Mass in the last week fell to 41 percent, compared to 46 percent in 2001. However, the margin of error is plus or minus 7 percentage points.
"The organization said it could not provide a direct link between the scandal and Mass attendance, because Catholic church attendance had started dropping before the crisis erupted last January. But the survey also found that there was no similar decline in church attendance by Protestants over the same period. For the first time in the decades-long history of the Gallup survey, Protestants now attend weekly church services at a higher rate than Catholics, 47 percent to 41 percent."
For the full Sydney Morning Herald and News Ltd stories see the links below.
30 Dec 2002