Study: church attendance among women plunges

Study: church attendance among women plunges August 3, 2011

This is something to make you put down your morning coffee and say “Huh?”

Details, from the Religion News Service and Huffington Post:

Women, long considered the dominant pew dwellers in the nation’s churches, have shown a dramatic drop in attendance in the last two decades, a new survey shows.

Since 1991, the percentage of women attending church during a typical week has decreased by 11 percentage points to 44 percent, the Barna Group reported Monday (Aug. 1).

Sunday school and volunteering among women also has diminished. Two decades ago, half of all women read the Bible in a typical week — other than at religious events. Now 40 percent do.

The survey also found a marked stepping away from congregations: a 17 percentage increase in the number of women who have become “unchurched.”

“For years, many church leaders have understood that ‘as go women, so goes the American church,'” wrote Barna Group founder George Barna, on his website. “Looking at the trends over the past 20 years, and especially those related to the beliefs and behavior of women, you might conclude that things are not going well for conventional Christian churches.”

The Ventura, Calif.-based researchers compared surveys of more than 1,000 people in 1991 and 2011.

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8 responses to “Study: church attendance among women plunges”

  1. I am not suprized at this from my generation being a part of this. As a microcausm to this situation at my parish, if young women aren’t heavily involved in the parish life already, or aren’t going with their family to Mass, by the time they are 14-15 you will not see them there again until they marry, and that is iffy also. It’s worse for the boys where they disappear by confirmation age.

  2. Lets see, women use of birth control is very high, abortions are killing 4000 babies a day. Many more women now have careers outside the home and limit number of children if they have any at all so as to not interfer with their life. If you have a group of women around today, many spend most of their talk time bashing the men in their lives.

    Why would they put up with a religion that tells them what they need to do for eternal life with God? Again, we are not seeing a decline in any way in our parish in attendance or in support for the many programs and we are very orthodox in this Dominican parish with both friars and nuns here.

    A recent study showed that many Catholics upon leaving their church, went in fairly large numbers to a evangelical church that was more demanding of them. Not sure if this was broken down by segments such as age or gender. I think if religion is not demanding of us in a world that has gone so far off center, it really offers nothing and too many churchs refuse to lay out what we need to hear over what they think we want to hear.

  3. Some time ago, I preached a sermon on the subject of priestly vocations. My main point revolved around the fact that the last four or so priests who were ordained for our diocese and who came from our area had one consistent inspiration — their mothers. I have never figured out why, exactly, but I know it is true.

    In other words, American Bishops, get the American Catholic mothers on your side and your vocations will increase. But the opposite is also true: if, American Bishops, you ignore the American Catholic mothers, your vocations to the celibate priesthood will languish and you will not even be able to replace the celibate priests who are dying off.

    This posting of Deacon Greg’s adds another serious complexity to the issue. Has the American Catholic mother abandoned the church of her heritage and WHY?

    The answer, American Bishops, is found by asking them.

  4. “Lets see, women use of birth control is very high, abortions are killing 4000 babies a day. Many more women now have careers outside the home and limit number of children if they have any at all so as to not interfer with their life. If you have a group of women around today, many spend most of their talk time bashing the men in their lives.”
    Well, that’s kind of stereotypical and doesn’t really tell us anything. It doesn’t describe the women I know, admittedly my experience is limited. What I have heard some women describe is a disconnect between their lives and the Church, that sometimes the Church in the 21st century feels more like a corporation than a family, especially in the larger parishes.
    The article which is being cited mentions a drop in volunteering among women; most of them would say, “When do we have time to volunteer?” Women are feeling economic pressure as never before, most of them who work aren’t doing it for extras, but to keep the wolf away from the door.

  5. Who knows? Perhaps some feel women should be allowed to be priests? Yes, they can be nuns—but how many nuns are the head of a parish? Perhaps being allowed to use ABC without being told it is wrong, not just NFP? Just a couple of things that came to my mind. Apparently something is keeping them away.

  6. While Liberals would love to have something to show that not having women priests or having more liberal policies on the killing of babies through contraception practices or abortion cause women to leave, the facts in studies show this not to be the case in large numbers.

    However, I also think Melody has something very important to evaluate. Women are out working in every larger numbers. The numbers below compare 1950 to 1998 and I would bet the differences today are much larger. When a woman works and has a family, there is very little time for much of anything else. See stats..

    “In 1950 about one in three women participated in the labor force. By 1998, nearly three of every five women of working age were in the labor force. Among women age 16 and over, the labor force participation rate was 33.9 percent in 1950, compared with 59.8 percent in 1998.

    63.3 percent of women age 16 to 24 worked in 1998 versus 43.9 percent in 1950.

    76.3 percent of women age 25 to 34 worked in 1998 versus 34.0 percent in 1950.

    77.1 percent of women age 35 to 44 worked in 1998 versus 39.1 percent in 1950.

    76.2 percent of women age 45 to 54 worked in 1998 versus 37.9 percent in 1950.

    51.2 percent of women age 55 to 64 worked in 1998 versus 27 percent in 1950.

    8.6 percent of women age 65+ worked in 1998 versus 9.7 percent in 1950.

    Many women have little time for themselves or anything else, even their souls. When men overwhelmingly dominated the workforce, many of them were not present at church or in volunteering within the parish for the same reasons. also in past times, children were much more self sufficent as the kids would go out and disappear for the day with no real supervision. Today, with all the perverts we seem to have running around, it is too dangerous and so mom is most often the one to transport and monitor various activities as well.

    In the end, it is about priorities one has in life. If God is not first as Jesus told us is essential, we have our priorities out of whack. If our career or little Suzy dance class is higher in the priority list than church, you are sending your kids the wrong message and telling God we are just too busy.

    However, with the liberalization of many Catholic parishes, many are leaving to find something worthwhile if they are going to devote time to God. A Pew study found that many Catholics leaving are going to conservative evangelical churches, not liberal protestant ones who have women ministers and are much more liberal than Catholics on women reproductive issues.

  7. If the “reform minded” clergy would preach the truth as taught by the Catholic Church we wouldn’t have these problems.

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