Promise and Peril: The Decline of Religion in America – Collin Hansen

Before the coronavirus pandemic, American religiosity had been in steady decline.

When American religiosity peaked in 1960, one in two American adults attended some religious service in a given week. Now it’s a little more than one in three. Membership in religious bodies has declined from more than 75 percent to 62 percent. And the number that gets all the attention is the “nones,” the Americans who claim no religion. That’s now 25 percent, compared to just 5 percent in 1960.

It’s hard to see that trend reversing with the unprecedented disruption of COVID-19. My own pastor estimates we’ve lost 25 percent of our church during the pandemic.

Lyman Stone is an expert on both the decline of American religiosity and also the spread of COVID-19. Stone is an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, and a former international economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He blogs about migration, population dynamics, and regional economics at In a State of Migration. His work has been covered in the The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, and numerous local outlets.

He joins me on Gospelbound to discuss his 2020 report “Promise and Peril: The History of American Religiosity and Its Recent Decline.”

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