As someone who studies the social politics of religion and loves statistics, I really enjoyed this week’s readings. The section in Chapter 4 on children’s religious involvement was of heightened interest to me. Figure 4.2 clearly pointed out the decline in youth religious participation rates over the generations of the 1900s. It was surprising to me such a greater decline in religiously active fathers than mothers reported in the second half of the century. Generally, men tend to be less religious then women in America but I did not expect a difference as larger as 15% when calculating the decline.
These trends in America’s youth match the overall population of the states. The text points out that while weekly attendance has been relatively stable since 1990, other forms of involvement have been on a decline. The number of Americans saying they participate in their congregation’s activities beyond attending services has dropped from 17% to 11% from the 1990s to the 2000s. It’s pointed out that some of this is attributed or how the standard for household structure has changed over the last few decades. The “nuclear family” is no longer the norm and the traditional family model continues to participate in activities outside of attending services much more frequently.
It is clear that societal changes have contributed to the decline of religious participation in the United states. I personally believe this is mainly due to social standards becoming more liberal, especially as our society continues to progress(even if slowly) in acceptance of alternative ways of life and diversity from what previous generations have grown up with.