Mar 28, 2024 - News

Washington adults are among the nation's least religious

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

Easter is this Sunday, but most residents of the Emerald City are likely not going to church.

Why it matters: 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.

By the numbers: Among Washington adults, 62% — nearly 3.8 million — say they never or seldom attend church or religious services, compared to the national rate of 49%, according to a Household Pulse Survey conducted Feb. 6–March 4.

  • The percentage of Seattleites who say they seldom or never attend religious services is slightly higher than the state at 64%, making the Emerald City the least religious large metro area in the U.S., per the Seattle Times.
  • San Francisco is the second-least religious large metro by that measure, with 63% reporting that they seldom or never attend services.

The big picture: 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."

  • 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.

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.

A separate Gallup survey published this week found that Latter-day Saints are the only religious group in which a majority say they attend services weekly, at 54%.

  • 30% of Protestants say they attend services weekly, compared to 28% of Muslims, 23% of Catholics and 16% of Jews.
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