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Catholics Trail Protestants in Church Attendance

Catholics Trail Protestants in Church Attendance

by George H. Gallup Jr.
Senior Staff Writer

After dipping to an all-time low in the wake of the recent sex abuse
scandals afflicting the Catholic Church, weekly church attendance among
Catholics appears to be on the rebound. However, historical Gallup Poll
data show that Protestants have now clearly overtaken Catholics in
church attendance, for the first time in Gallup polling history.

Between March 2002, when the news of the scandals broke, and February
2003, weekly church attendance among Catholics fell nine percentage
points to 35%, the lowest measurement since Gallup began asking the
question in 1955. By November 2003*, however, the figure had climbed 10
percentage points to 45%. Protestants' levels of church attendance,
meanwhile, remained fairly stable during this same period.

While it is up from earlier this year, that 45% figure among Catholics
is 29 percentage points lower than the 74% recorded when this question
was first asked in 1955. Comparatively, Protestants' church attendance
is actually slightly higher in November 2003 (48%) than it was in 1955

George Gallup Jr. is the Chairman of the George H. Gallup International
Institute and is recognized internationally for his research and study
on youth, health, religion, and urban problems.


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