Friday, October 20, 2017

Regular worship participation by religious affiliation

In this week's installment of the Power Hour, the blog's sole proprietor does a segment touching on church attendance in the West, noting that outside of a couple peripheral Catholic countries like Poland and Ireland, active Christianity is dead in Europe. Moribundity is beckoning in the US, too, though we're a generation or so behind the Old Continent.

As a complement to Z-Man's discussion of the topic, the percentages of people, by religious affiliation, who attend worship services weekly (or more) in the US. The GSS began collecting expanded religious affiliation data in 1998, so responses are from then onward (N = 25,540):

The disparity between the Crusaders and the Saracens must be wider in Europe than it is in the US. Another unique aspect to American Christianity is that our Protestants take it more seriously than our Catholics do. As weak as Catholicism is in Europe, Protestantism is even weaker.

It's a bipolar age we live in. On the one hand, there is a widespread sense among WEIRDOs that religion is an anachronism on its way out. On the other hand, it's hard to shake the feeling that the religious will end up inheriting the earth.

GSS variables used: ATTEND(7-8), RELIG(1)(2)(3)(4)(6)(7)(8)(9), YEAR(1998-2016)


Feryl said...

In Europe, it was Boomers who attacked religion; in America, Boomers led a spiritual revival which often attacked religious institutions but not belief itself. The result being that post Boomers in Europe had nothing to rebel against (other than, I suppose, the Boomers themselves) by the 1980's. American X-ers and Millennials, on the other hand, grew tired of preachy and hypocritical Boomers in the 80's and 90's, to the point that younger people resented religion more so than the Boomers did. A stereotype of Americans, common among Euros, is that Americans are uptight and pious. Interestingly, before the 60's cultural revolution, Euros were considered more deferential to tradition and The Church. Some of this probably due to Catholics; in Western Euro countries with a lot of Catholics (Ireland, France, among others) it's taken a lot longer to pass certain policies (like gay marriage for example) because Catholic church elders refused to go against thousands of years of proscriptions. Protestantism by default is more flexible and rebellious, so the English speaking countries and Scandinavian countries legislatively have always been on the leading edge. Even in America, there have been lots of controversies about certain Catholic dioceses defying church traditions; if the Catholic church was more important in America, these controversies would've slowed down our legislative process.

Boomers often affected to be observant, yet......Why were they refusing to settle down, to stay married, to avoid drugs, to avoid promiscuity, to avoid fights, to restrain their temper, etc.

According to Strauss and Howe, the 80's-2000's were going to be a time of weak institutions. Boomers set the early tone in the late 60's and 70's by attacking the leadership of the government, the military, the church, the corporate world, etc. By the 80's, Boomers and the generations who grew up in the wake of the Boomers would become cynical. It's during the 2010's that various crises were supposed to re-invigorate the idea of strong leadership and repression (by oneself or otherwise) of dissenters and doubters.

Jim Bowery said...

The Boomers didn't reject religion and they didn't stop going to church. They merely switched religions from JudeoChristianity to Holocaustianity. Their parents -- The Greatest Generation -- turned their religious upbringing over to Jewish-dominated institutions such as television, movies and academia. Boomers sat reverently in their pews while Jews preached to them the grand stories of martyrdom of Jews at the hands of Nazis and blond high school jocks named "Chad". Boomers sat reverently in their pews while Jewish theologians explained to them the intricacies of Boasian anthropology and Critical Theory -- sending them out into the world to, themselves, spread the Gospel.

Boomers irreligious? Nonsense! Boomers are pious to a degree puts to shame The Greatest Generation!

Audacious Epigone said...


Strong leadership expressing itself how?



Supernatural religion, maybe? Harvey Weinstein has been thanked more during movie awards than God.

Though even that doesn't work, since there's a lot of magic thinking going on among boomer frogs.

"Conventional religious traditions", perhaps.

Audacious Epigone said...

boomer progs*

Feryl said...

I didn't say American Boomers lacked religious belief or even piety; I said that in there youth (mostly upper class and liberal) Boomers attacked the leaders of every institution, including the church. In the 80's, Boomers began to dominate institutional culture (albeit with Silent gen mentors often making up much of the HR), and thus also began expecting X-ers and Millennials to defer to the mores and wisdom of Boomers. Thing is, so many people dropped so many balls in the 60's, 70's and beyond, that a lot of X-ers and Millennials were not going to just forgive and forget these things, and act deferential to Boomer institutions and values (which, to be fair, many Boomers weren't a part of either).

Younger generations saw how many mistakes were made by ostensibly religious people, so they figured, what good is religion?

Feryl said...

"Strong leadership expressing itself how?"

The battles of the 80's-2000's were more about ideology than leaders; we may have anointed certain leaders as the figureheads of an ideology, but we didn't idolize or even really trust them. In this decade, whether it's Obama or Trump, or whoever, a large chunk of the populace is championing a warrior, a paladin, to fight for them. This past election cycle, it was swpl striver types who rallied behind Clinton.....Not so much for ideological reasons, but because she was their protector (after all, everyone knows that the Clintons are snakes who just want to line their pockets).

Millennials are less concerned about rights than are previous generations. Previous generations in previous eras fought to be autonomous and free; Millennials consider the libertarian style debates of the 60's-2000's to be passe, and many of them are legitimately willing to check their egos at the door for the sake of the greater good.

We can have strong institutions and leaders, or we can have expansive individual rights and hedonism. We can't have both.

Feryl said...

I'd be lying if I said I was totally comfortable with idolizing any leader, but that's the way the wind is blowing. Neil Howe says that Silents were terrified of the political culture of the earlier 20th century ever being revivied, with it's nationalism and cults of personality. This terror filtered down to Boomers and X-ers to some degree in the 50's-2000's. But right now, we've reached such a crisis pitch that previous fears of giving too much esteem to a powerful leader have ebbed among all generations, though Millennials, who grew up with Boomer elders demanding respect, are perhaps more comfortable with what's happening than are older generations.

Anonymous said...

The number for Hindus is probably misleading because the major observances revolve around family and home. I consider myself very orthodox and I pray three times a day at home but only go to the temple if there is a festival or something. Maybe once a month. I expect it would be similar for Buddhists.

Incidently of the nine members of the board at the temple I go to when I go, all but one have college degrees (The exception is the priest who has theological training in Sanskrit.) Five of them have graduate degrees, all in STEM subjects and all from US universities.

Jim Bowery said...

Utilization of generational categories in his social etiology is a psychologically appealing tangent. One of the essential characteristics of species that resist eusocial organization -- that is to say species that exhibit "individualism" -- is adolescent "rebellion" resulting in departure from the nest rather than staying within an intergenerational nest.

This "weakness" in Europeans -- particularly northern Europeans -- is exploited by immigrant cultures and the result is precisely the kind of extended phenotype -- of the foreign genes -- we see in guys like Feryl.

Jim Bowery said...

By the way, speaking of nuking bad analytic categories:

I’ll match any pledge, to the purse for the Social Causality Prize I, to get it to the $1000 threshold for activation at the aforelinked heroX, X-Prize Foundation page. If you pledge $1,000,000 with the prize currently at $100, you'll be doing the world a great service -- and I'll match it with a pledge of ($1000-$100)/2.

The "replication crisis" in social psychology has been exposing the abject politicization of that field in a way that the even more abject politicization of the more ecological social sciences (economics, political science, etc.) cannot be exposed. This is because the _instrumental_ motive for social science is to guide government policy by causal theories of how society operates. In social psychology, experiments with control groups are practical -- and this is how one empirically tests theories of social causation. The more ecological social sciences, deprived by a lawless Federal government of the 10th Amendment's Laboratory of the States, ave no such experimental controls -- thus relegating all "scientific discourse" in those fields to the equivalent of theologians debating the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin.

However, we needn’t give the social sciences a pass simply because the Federal government has thrown the 10th Amendment, and its consequent Laboratory of the States, under the bus.

There is another way to rank-order unified theories of social causation:

Lossless compression of big data.

This has been known to be the case since the dawn of the computer industry, yet the social sciences have stuck with statistical methods of causal inference developed in an era of limited data and computation capacity.

Please, help put a stop to social pseudo-science.

Audacious Epigone said...


Do these temples function like Catholic abbeys in the meantime, with monks quasi-self sufficiently living in and maintaining them, then?


yet the social sciences have stuck with statistical methods of causal inference developed in an era of limited data and computation capacity

Given that it's the sort of analysis that someone--to take a random example, say, myself--can do as an amateur hobby and find things that are arguably more interesting than the entire field produces, I'd say you're correct. But they like it limited in scope. It's a feature rather than a bug.

DissidentRight said...

Another unique aspect to American Christianity is that our Protestants take it more seriously than our Catholics do. As weak as Catholicism is in Europe, Protestantism is even weaker.

I bet it has to do with the liberal/conservative divide. In Europe, all the Protestants are liberal. I imagine liberal American Protestants have worse attendance than American Catholics.

Jim Bowery said...


someone ... can ... find things that are arguably more interesting than the entire field produces

True enough, but if the objective is to discredit the social pseudo-scientists, it's a relatively inefficient process. You know what they do, of course:

"You didn't consider the confounding effects of variable (fill in the blank with some plausibly related measure)!"

Then, when you control for that variable, they're nowhere to be found -- mission accomplished. Their mission? Make the interesting boring by spreading, among the Faithful, Fear Uncertainty and Doubt about what they're seeing through the telescope. The Faithful will tend not to look though the telescope again.

If, however, you have a model that incorporates basically all conceivable variables and it predicts all conceivable variables of interest, you have not only headed off the FUD tactic, but you have synergy of perspectives providing much stronger inference than if you merely had, say, more data points for some measure of interest.

Audacious Epigone said...


Yep, exactly. It's a perpetual call for controlling for X, Y, and Z, and then later claiming those controls don't get at the causes of the variables themselves, and on and on. Your effort is a noble one.

Audacious Epigone said...

Dissident Right,

Yep. It's nearly identical for conservative Protestants and conservative Catholics and also nearly identical for liberal Protestants and liberal Catholics. That American Protestants are more conservative than American Catholics are pretty much explains the difference.

Feryl said...

".I bet it has to do with the liberal/conservative divide. In Europe, all the Protestants are liberal. I imagine liberal American Protestants have worse attendance than American Catholics."

The Scandinavian countries are the most (culturally) Protestant in all of Europe, and have never been particularly pious. They have feminist culture dating back to ancient times, and adopted Christianity more slowly and tentatively than other regions of Europe. Scandis, along with other Teutonic groups, were quicker to "revert" back to paganism during the Boomer spiritual revolutions of the 60's and 70's, some of which rubbed off onto Anglosphere hippies, and besides, Teutonic Christianity often incorporated elements of pagan Europe. The gaia movement of the 60's and beyond is perhaps the least Jewish strain of Leftist movements, what with it coming perilously close to Hitler's well-known affection for mother Earth. Steve Sailer has said that Burning Man type stuff remains a legacy of blonde white people, that working yourself to death and then partaking in Dionysian blowing off of steam is a unique part of Protestant culture (no other ethnic group in the world goes to both extremes).

As a general rule, Western Europe's "hill-billies" (for the most part) were the most enthusiastic about embracing Catholicism (and thus, Christianity). And the "top-down Command" structure of Catholicism suits fiery ethnic groups who need discipline, strong leaders, and enjoy the pageantry of Catholic rituals and customs. Meanwhile, aesthetically austere Protestants disdain the Catholic church's focus on ceremonial pomp. American protestant ministers often dress waaaayyyyy down; Americans go even further than their Protestant European ancestors in being suspicious of men who put too much time into their appearance.

It's interesting to compare and contrast Irish-Catholics in America compared to Scos-Irish in America. Scots-Irish are ornery, pessimistic, and civically suspect. They don't trust authority, and tend to have deep ties with family and tenuous ties to everyone else (including religious authorities). They're proudly Protestant, and whether in Europe or America, have often clashed with Catholics. Irish-Catholics, on the other hand, have sometimes brushed up against the fundamentally Protestant ethos of America (self-reliance and hard work come before everything, including your local diocese and even the Pope). Where the Scots-Irish are given to sentiment about life being nasty, brutish, and short, Irish-Catholics are given to sentiment regarding essentially collectivist liberal values in which we all are supposed to sob about poor people/immigrants/whoever getting the shaft.