Life as I know it… plus commentary

40 and 70

with 6 comments

I just read a statistic in Newsweek that said 40% of Americans attends church on a weekly basis but 70% of the same want a president with strong religious faith.

It’s an interesting statistic to me in two different ways.  The first is that the difference between who goes to church and who wants a person of faith to be president.  It’s almost like the 30% that want the president of faith but don’t go to church are saying “I like what religion offers; I don’t want to have to work at it; but I want my president to have the values I don’t want to work at.”  It’s an interesting mindset… and I know quite a few people like this.  The desire is there but the spiritual laziness gets the better of them.  There’s more to say about this but at quarter to 4 am, I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’ll hit me later.

The other is the 40% statistic they use.  You notice it’s listed as “attends every week”?  As is, it looks like less than half the American people attend church on a Sunday.  We did a census at Gnu Song 10 years ago.  What we found at our church is 67% said they attended weekly… but, another 23% said they went three of the four weeks.  That’s 90% that we could call regular attenders.  That paints a different picture of who the people who go to church.  The every-week is the same percentage as a D (67%), but it’s closer to an A(90%) if you count in the three of four weekers.  By the same token, I’m sure that 40% in the Newsweek article would be higher if they counted significant attenders rather than the every-weekers.  Personally, I’d like to have known the regular attender percent, especially when you are making that comparison of the the those who go versus those who want a president of faith.


Written by arnold

November 28, 2007 at 4:32 am

Posted in Politics, Religion

6 Responses

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  1. That survey at New Song was taken 10 years ago (out of date). I think people’s mindset of church may look completely different if you were to poll today’s “church goers’” meaning it could be less then the 90% you were mentioning or maybe more depending on what your definition of church is.


    November 28, 2007 at 1:47 pm

  2. Things that make you go hmm…


    November 28, 2007 at 11:17 pm

  3. When you say:

    “… the 30% that want the president of faith but don’t go to church are saying “I like what religion offers; I don’t want to have to work at it; but I want my president to have the values I don’t want to work at it…”

    you imply that personal values derive from one’s attending a church service or not. Is that what you really think?

    Both ways it doesn’t work. Many who regularly attend a worship service possess atrocious values, from a Christian perspective.

    Conversely, many people who do not attend a weekly church service have wholesome values that match up well with Scripture.

    On the whole, I think it is questionable how much helpful info. we can legitimately draw from those surveys that use “church attendance” as the primary factor.

    But then, SOME might categorize me as a spiritually “lazy.” 😉


    November 29, 2007 at 1:06 am

  4. Actually, what I said didn’t lead to that implication at all.

    What I said was 70% of Americans want a president with a strong, religious faith. (You’ll note that what “strong religious faith” means to those polled or where they learn these values was not clarified.) And that only 40% of Americans attend church weekly (You’ll not that type of church, the state of their spirituality, commentary on the demise of mainline churches and how much they tithe, quality of their work week was not discussed).

    If you want to extol the virtues of the emergent church, then go ahead, by all means. But make sure you understand the limits of what I was saying. 🙂

    Interestingly you say “Many who regularly attend a worship service possess atrocious values, from a Christian perspective.” How you mean that really determines my reaction. How much is Many? Are you saying the majority of regular attenders have atrocious values? Or are you saying that some minority exists? If they do, are they statistically relevant to characterize service attenders?


    November 29, 2007 at 2:24 am

  5. I also object to the “do you go to church every week” question as a way to screen for the Christian perspective. On the other hand, how do you do it? Do you ask, “Are you a Christian?” That’s no better. I suppose that it’s reasonable to at least ask whether people do something about the fact that they’re a Christian–like go to church. We can’t expect a Newsweek poll to grasp the subtleties of what makes for a “genuine” Christian. Even if they did, I don’t know what could be done about it.

    The more interesting question to me is the question: “Do you want a president with a strong religious faith?” My first response is “No.” There are plenty of backwards countries run be people with a “strong religious faith.” The fact that a British school teacher is spending the next two weeks in jail because her class named a teddy bear “Mohammed” reminds me of how confused things can get when government is run by “strong religious faith.” If the question were “strong Christian faith” I would probably answer yes. But not without some hesitation. I don’t want my president’s “strong faith” to substitute for actual thinking.

    I suppose I just want my next president to be reasonable, thoughtful, accountable. I would love for him to be Christian also, but frankly that by itself is not really what I’m looking for. In all honesty, I just want my next president to be named Ron Paul. Will someone find out if Ron Paul is a Christian?

    (Curtis is with me…aren’t you Curtis? You’re backing Dr. Ron, right? I gotta say, it does feel good to go libertarian. “America needs a doctor!” Yeah.)

    The Kyle

    November 29, 2007 at 5:43 pm

  6. Since we brought it up… I thought these stats from would be interesting to look at…

    47% of American adults attend church in a typical weekend, not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral. (2005)
    Percentage of adults nationwide who have attended a church service in the past seven days not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral. …
    It’s interesting to note that more people are going to church now than 10 years ago.

    62% of Republicans attended church in a typical weekend compared to 47% of Democrats. (2006)

    44% of men nationwide compared with 50% of women have attended a church service, not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral, in the past seven days. (2006)

    Married people are more likely than singles to attend church in a typical weekend: 52% versus 38% respectively. (2006)

    Blacks (52%) are the ethnic group most likely to have attended a religious service in the past week, followed by whites (49%), Hispanics (41%), and Asians (29%). (2006) How funny that I’m in the vast minority of my people group.

    Catholics and Protestants had virtually the same likelihood of attending church in 2006. Catholics:
    2006 55%
    2004 51%
    2002 46%
    2000 49%

    2006 58%
    2004 52%
    2002 53%
    2000 47%

    Mosaics are least likely to attend church in a typical weekend (33%) versus Baby Busters (43%), Baby Boomers (49%), and Elders (54%). (2006) This may become an interesting talking point for why emergent people and the people they reach out to feel like church doesnt work versus how older people feel like it works just fine.

    Attendance levels are still higher in the “Bible belt” areas – the South and Midwest – than in the Northeast and West. 54% of those in the Midwest and 51% of those in the South and attend church in a typical week, compared to 41% of those in the Northeast and 39% of those in the West. (2006)


    November 30, 2007 at 1:13 pm

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