Mar 29, 2024 - Religion

Utah's church attendance tops nation — but even more stay home

Illustration of a fragmented book cover showing different religious symbols.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Regular religious attendance is more common in Utah than in any other state, per a new analysis of Household Pulse Survey data from Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng.

The intrigue: While attendance is high, even more Utahns — 44% — said they never attend.

  • That's lower than the national average of 49% of people saying they don't attend — but higher than many states in the South and Southeast.

By the numbers: 38% of Utahns attend religious services at least 12 times per year, well above the national average of 21%.

  • Mississippi, Louisiana and Kansas are the only other states where at least 30% of people attend that often.

Zoom in: That's consistent with attendance levels reported by members of the state's dominant faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • 54% of members surveyed said they attend at least weekly, according to a Gallup report released this week.
  • The next-highest weekly attendance was reported by Protestant Christians, at 30%.
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; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

The big picture: 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 started tracking such sentiment in 2001.

  • Many people are unhappy about that, with about half of adults telling Pew both 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 trendline: 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."

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