Martin Marty takes aim at hand-wringers who worry that that lack of church attendance and affiliation are dropping. Even if it’s below 50% nowadays, it was a lot lower in Colonial America:
So how were things in the good old days? A consensus questioned by a few serious scholars—Patricia Bonomi among them—is that fewer than 20 percent of the colonial citizens were active in churches. Change came after 1776, so that, in one common estimate, church participation jumped from 17 percent to 34 percent between 1776 and 1850. A better past, more illuminating for comparison in present concerns, is between the early 1960s, when participation crested, and today.
read the rest: Church Affiliation Colonial and Now by Martin E. Marty.