A recent poll had found that American church membership has fallen below 50% for the first time ever. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a house of worship, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.
The polling agency, Gallup, has tracked the church attendance data for the past 80 years, starting in 1940. The highest ever figure on record is 76%, just after the 2nd World War. Just in the past 20 years, the figure has dropped off dramatically from 70% to 47%.
In their survey, Gallup asked an array of questions, the key question being, “Do you happen to be a member of a church, synagogue, or mosque?” Gallup says that the major reason for the church membership decline is an increase in the number of Americans who express no religious preference. This figure has climbed from 8% in 1998-2000 to 21% over the last three years.
Church membership also wildly fluctuates across age groups, with it being the strongest amongst people born before 1946 at 66%, dropping to 58% amongst the Baby Boomer generation, 50% amongst Gen X, and finally dramatically collapsing to just 36% amongst millennials. However, there is still a numerical decline in each age group.
The declining church membership trend is prevailing across all sub groups, regardless of gender, location or political affiliation.
According to Gallup, the survey was compiled from 6,117 randomly sampled adults in all 50 states of the U.S. including the capital Washington D.C. Telephonic interviews were conducted for this survey throughout 2018 to 2020. Gallup maintains a 95% confidence level in the poll, with a margin of error of minus 2 percentage points.