A new survey of American adults found that 51% of Catholics pray every day, up from 59% from 2014. Meanwhile, the proportion of Americans with no religious affiliation continues to rise.
These are some of the highlights of a new survey from the Pew Research Center, which focuses on changes in the American religious landscape. The responses show that much of America is still religious, but much less than it once was.
All American religions have recorded declining trends in various categories, with the exception of “nones”.
The “nones”, a group that includes atheists, agnostics and those who identify as nothing in particular, now represent almost 30% of the population, up from 23% in 2016. In 2011, they represented 19%.
As the “no’s” grow, Christians shrink. Currently, the Christian population, which includes Catholics, Protestants, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Orthodox, make up 63% of the overall United States population, Pew reported.
While the Protestant share of the population has fallen by 10 percentage points over the past 10 years, those who identify as Catholic have remained “relatively stable,” the survey found.
In 2021, 21% of American adults identify as Catholic. The Catholic share of the U.S. population, which had been declining since 2007, has now returned to its 2014 level, Pew found.
1 in 5 Catholics do not pray regularly
While 20% of Catholics say they do not pray or pray rarely, the remaining 80% pray more regularly.
Although only 51% of Catholics pray every day, 29% said they pray every week or month, Pew found. Much of this prayer has to take place at home or elsewhere every week, as only 26% of Catholics report attending church services at least once a week.
In comparison, 61% of Protestants reported praying every day, while 22% said they prayed weekly or monthly. Only 10% of Protestants rarely or never pray.
Just under 10% of Catholics attend religious services once or twice a month. This leaves the vast majority of Catholics, 65%, only attending church services a few times a year or less. While the majority are infrequent participants, only 14% of Catholics said they “never” attend.
Assessment of the importance of religion
Religion is very important in the lives of 48% of Catholics, according to the survey. This is a decrease of 10 percentage points compared to 2014.
Just over 3 in 10 Catholics say religion is of some importance to them, the same as in 2007.
For nearly a fifth of Catholics today, religion is not too important or not at all important, according to Pew’s survey. This is 10% more than in 2014.
Protestants see religion as more important in their lives than Catholics, according to the survey. Sixty-five percent of Protestants said religion was very important in their lives, compared to 48% of Catholics. Catholics who said religion was somewhat important in their lives were 34%, just 7% more than Protestants, according to the survey.
Only 8% of Protestants said religion was not too important or not at all important in their life. Eighteen percent of Catholics said the same thing.
‘None’ also pray
Just over 1 in 10 people say they pray daily, according to the survey.
Although 71% of “nuns” rarely or never pray, 13% pray daily and 16% pray weekly or monthly.
Not only has the size of the “nones” group increased, but every subgroup within this population has also increased.
In 2007, 2% were atheists, 2% were agnostics and 12% identified as “nothing in particular”. Today, 4% are atheists, 5% are agnostics and 20% do not identify with anything in particular.
Decline in daily prayer
Less than half (45%) of Americans pray daily. This represents a decrease of 10% compared to 2014 and 13% compared to 2007.
Just over one-fifth of adults pray weekly or monthly, as in 2007. Yet the proportion of Americans who say they pray rarely or never rose from 14% in 2007 to almost a third (32%). today.
A quarter of Americans attend church services once a week, while only 7% attend once or twice a month. In 2007, 54% of Americans attended church services every month or more, according to the survey.
Most Americans, 68%, attend church services a few times a year or less. Twenty-seven percent say they never attend.