How many people outside of North
America go regularly to religious services?
The Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan
periodically conducts the World Values Survey. It polls a statistically
valid sample of adults from a total of 60 nations. Some of their findings from
their 1995-1997 survey:
The United States has a higher level of church attendance than any other
country which is "at a comparable level of development."
53% of Americans consider religion to be very important in their lives.
This compares with 16% in Britain, 14% in France and 13% in Germany.
The importance of religion has been declining in developed countries.
In those countries which are "experiencing
economic stagnation and political uncertainty," the importance of
religion is high.
Political scientist Ronald Inglehart, one of the authors of the
Institute's 1998 survey commented: "Although church attendance is
declining in nearly all advanced industrial societies, spiritual concerns
more broadly defined are not. In fact, in most industrial societies, a
growing share of the population is spending time thinking about the
meaning and purpose of life." 1
Percent of adults who attend religious services at least once a week:
In order of decreasing attendance:
* Based on 1990-1991 survey data.
These numbers are somewhat suspect. Church
attendance data in the U.S. has been checked against actual values using two
different techniques. The true figures show that only about 20% of Americans and
10% of Canadians actually go to church one or more times a week. Many Americans and Canadians tell
that they have gone to church even though they have not. Whether this happens in
other countries, with different cultures, is difficult to predict.
The Institute's 1998 study involved almost 166,000 people. They found
that church attendance was in decline in 15 of 19 industrialized
democracies. Only two showed small increases: Northern Ireland and Great
Britain. Attendance in East Germany continues to decline, having dropped
from 20% in 1991 to 9% in 1998. Five of eight ex-communist societies show
an increase in church attendance. 2
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Diane Swanbrow, "Study of worldwide rates of religiosity, church
attendance," University of Michigan news release at: http://www.umich.edu/