Mar 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Gallup: U.S. church membership dips below 50% for first time

people sit at a Church

Visitors sit on pews in the Great Upper Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the campus of Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

47% of Americans said they belong to a church, synagogue or mosque in 2020, down from 50% in 2018, according to a Gallup poll out Monday.

Why it matters: It's the first time in the eight decades that Gallup has tracked the trend that a majority of Americans do not belong to a church.

  • The trend has dovetailed with an increasing number of people who say they are not religiously affiliated.
  • Membership at places of worship was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937. It stayed near that range for six decades before starting to dip in the 21st century.

Details: The trend was associated with age, as 66% of people born before 1946 said they belong to a church.

  • That figure was 58% for baby boomers and 50% for people in Generation X. 36% of millennials said they belong to a church.
  • Gallup said that the limited data it collected on members of Generation Z showed similar levels of church membership to millennials.
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