Mar 29, 2024 - News

Iowans' declining religious attendance

Share of adults who say they never or rarely attend religious services
Data: Household Pulse Survey; Note: Adults who say they never attend or attend less than once a year; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Almost half of Iowans confess they never or rarely attend church or religious services.

The big picture: The rest of the country is similar. Iowa is on par with the national average at 49%, per a new analysis of Household Pulse Survey data between February and March 2024.

By the numbers: Of those who do attend, 10% of residents in the state say they went to services 1-3 times a year, 7% attended 4-11 times per year, and 24% went 12 or more times.

Zoom in: The latest numbers show a statewide attendance drop compared to previous years. In 2010, 54% of Iowans attended religious services.

Zoom out: Vermont (75%), New Hampshire (66%) and Maine (66%) have the highest share of adults who say they never or seldom attend church or religious services.

  • Mississippi (32%), Alabama (36%) and Louisiana (37%) have the lowest shares.

State of play: More than three-quarters of Americans say religion's role in public life is shrinking, per a recent Pew Research Center survey — the highest level since the group first started tracking such sentiment in 2001.

  • Many Americans are unhappy about that, with about half of adults telling Pew that "religion is losing influence and that this is a bad thing."
  • About 57% of adults say that religion has a positive impact on American life, per Pew.

Friction point: Nearly half of U.S. adults say they feel at least "some" tension between their religious beliefs and mainstream culture, Pew found.

  • That's up from 42% in 2020.

The bottom line: Religious service attendance has been dropping for decades, per Gallup, driven largely by "the increase in the percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation — 9% in 2000-2003 versus 21% in 2021-2023."

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more