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Survey: Americans more interested in prayer than church

man praying at home

Chat Karen Studio | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 05/25/23

While about half of Americans believe in God and pray daily, more than two-thirds rarely or never attend religious services.

A new survey released by NORC at the University of Chicago is examining rates of belief and religious practice in the US. The data, from NORC’s annual General Social Survey (GSS), found that both religious attendance and belief in God have fallen, but Americans still tend to pray daily.

When asked if they believed in God, a solid half (50%) of respondents said they “know God exists and have no doubts.” A further 16% cited belief in God, but admitted they had some doubts and 14% said they believe in “some higher power.” Only 7% answered that they did not know, with even fewer (6%) saying they only believed in God “sometimes.”

Each respondent was asked to rate how religious they felt they were in 2022. The largest portion of answers pointed to “moderate” religious self-identification, with “not religious” standing as the second most popular choice, at 29%. A quarter (25%) claimed to be only “slightly religious,” and those who consider themselves to be “very religious” were the smallest group, at just 14%. 

On the topic of church attendance, responses were a bit wider spread, but the largest group (34%) was found in those who “never attend” church. The next most popular response was a tie between those who attend religious services once per year and those who attend weekly, both finding 13% of the pool. Furthermore, 11% say they go to services less than once per year, 4% go monthly, 5% multiple times per month, and 4% said they go almost weekly. Only 5% cited going to church more than once per week. 

The rates of church attendance are reflective of the rates in which respondents claimed “confidence in organized religion.” Only 15% responded that they had “a great deal of confidence” in organized religion, and the lion’s share of responses (49%) said they had “only some” confidence. A solid third (33%) said they had very little confidence in organized religion.

While Americans were shown to have shifted away from organized faith practice, their prayer habits have remained somewhat intact. Nearly half (48%) of respondents said they pray at least once per day, with 28% reporting praying multiple times per day. A further 13% reported praying multiple times per week, and only 6% say they pray once per week. While 34% said they pray less than weekly or never, this figure is slightly lower than the 38% who selected the response in 2021.

ChurchFaithPrayerReligious LifeUnited States
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