Sunday, June 26, 2005

Today's Sermon: 18.7%

That's the percentage of Americans who actually attend church regularly.

Did you attend church last Sunday?

Hell, yes! Of course you did!

Even if you really didn't.

In survey after survey, 38-44% of American Christians claim to attend church regularly.

National Opinion Research Center: 38%;

Institute for Social Research’s World Values: 44%;

Barna: 41%;

National Election Studies: 40%;

Gallup: 41%

But what about Stanley Presser's “Data Collection Mode and Social Desirability Bias in Self-Reported Religious Attendance,” American Sociological Review (with L. Stinson)?

Comparing diaries with actual attendance, Presser and Stinson estimated that the actual percentage of Americans attending church was about 26%.

Presser's definitive study pointed out the differences in survey responses between the question asked by the the above listed survey groups ("Did you attend church last week?) and his question (What did you do last weekend?).


Christians Lie?

Survey conductors know that respondents almost always offer the answer they believe the questioner wants to hear; therefore, when C. Kirk Hadaway and P.L. Marler studied individual counties in the US and Canada, they found that church attendance was about half the rate indicated by research polls. In fact, the actual number was 20%.


Identity Transformation.

As long as Christians believe that no one will check to see if they're lying, they'll lie to survey conductors every Gawd-forsaken time.

What does a growing gap between saying and doing mean? The issue is one of self-identity at a couple of levels. First, a "churched" identity, once established, seems remarkably resilient and long-lasting. Second, whereas "churched" behavior might be important for establishing such an identity, continued frequent attendance does not seem necessary for people to maintain it.

Meet Dave Olson!

Dave Olson, director of church planting (trans. new church start ups) for the Evangelical Covenant Church, surveyed only Christian churches (i.e., evangelical, mainline, and Catholic) and compared respondents' survey answers to their actual church attendance. The percentage of Americans regularly attending church is 18.7%.


That's right. Olson actually checked the answers for truthfulness.



Eye opening?

Hell, yes!


Go forth and tell survey conductors the truth...

Or suffer the consequence when fascist fundies rule the schools, the workplaces, and the airwaves... and persecute your asses by falsely claiming that they're being persecuted.

I mean it, damn it!


Blogger Mister said...

But but but but...

I really did go to church this morning. Really! I did! I swear to whatever-Unitarians-swear-to! I've got witnesses, albeit Unitarian witnesses. Dagnabbit, why won't anyone listen to me?


7:54 PM  

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