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Did You Go to Church on Christmas? Are You Lying? Americans Claim They Are More Religious Than They Are

A new study shows that Americans vastly overestimate how often they attend religion services. Why?


A new study (the latest in a long line of studies with the same findings) show that Americans, for some odd reason, are insistent that they are very religious. But Americans are lying. Despite 42 percent of Americans claiming to attend weekly religion services, only 21 percent actually do. In fact, Americans are not any more religious than any other industrialized country. Or, at least, not any more practicing. Says Slate:

Philip Brenner at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research compared self-reported attendance at religious services with "time-use" interviews in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Norway, Finland, Slovenia, Italy, Spain, Austria, Ireland, and Great Britain. Brenner looked at nearly 500 studies over four decades, involving nearly a million respondents.


Brenner found that the United States and Canada were outliers—not in religious attendance, but in overreporting religious attendance. Americans attended services about as often as Italians and Slovenians and slightly more than Brits and Germans. The significant difference between the two North American countries and other industrialized nations was the enormous gap between poll responses and time-use studies in those two countries.

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What about being American makes us so insistent that we're going to church when we're really not? And what does it say about America and its current cultural battles? Surely, whatever the reason, can we dispense dispense with silly arguments about how moral decay is going to turn America into Europe. At least in terms of religion, it seems we are are already there.