From Religion Dispatches: http://religiondispatches.org/women-are-leaving-church-and-the-reason-seems-clear/
By Patricia Miller May 25, 2016
A new Pew Research Center analysis
of General Social Survey data confirms a long-simmering trend in U.S.
religious observance: While attendance at religious services has
declined for all Americans, it has declined more among women then men.
the early 1970s, 36 percent of women and 26 percent of men reported
attending church services weekly, a ten-point gap that reflected the
long-standing trend of women being more religiously committed than men.
gap reached its widest point in 1982, when it hit 13 percent, but then
it began to shrink. By 2012, 22 percent of men reported attending church
weekly, as did 28 percent of women, reflecting a “worship gap” of only
six percent, an historic low.
Pew’s David McClendon gives several
possible reasons for women’s declining levels of religiosity as measured
by church attendance. One is the increase in the number of women in the
workforce, which could theoretically decrease their leisure time and
force them to cut back on activities like church.
But as McClendon
himself notes, “the fastest increase in women’s full-time employment”
actually “occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during which time
the gender gap on religious service attendance actually widened somewhat.”
women aren’t too busy with work to go to church, maybe it’s because
they’re becoming too well educated. Higher rates of educational
attainment are correlated to less church going, except McClendon notes
that both more educated and less educated women are going to church
Finally, McClendon notes that the growth of the “nones”
appears to having contributed to women’s declining church attendance, as
“the rate of growth in the unaffiliated has been slightly more rapid
for women than men,” which has “helped narrow the gender gap in weekly
But it seems likely that more women becoming
unaffiliated is part and parcel of the same trend of more women staying
away from church. It still doesn’t explain why this is happening.
McClendon overlooks is that the years that women’s church attendance
began to decline are the very years when religious leaders in the
Catholic Church and the evangelical movement fused religion with the
culture wars, with overall attendance for women taking it’s first steep
drop in the 1980s.
This drop in church attendance for women
coincided with the period when the Catholic bishops began making
abortion a litmus test for Catholic politicians, as in the 1984 election
when Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was attacked for being pro-choice.
And Pew’s own numbers
appear to back this up. According to Pew, women are slightly more
likely than men to say that churches should keep out of politics (55
percent vs. 53 percent), and overall 60 percent of Catholics say church
should keep out of politics.
Women’s church attendance did recover
somewhat in the early 1990s, but then began a long slide in the
mid-1990s that continued to 2012, when the GSS data end. While the GSS
numbers don’t break out attendance by religion, church attendance for
both men and women appears to have bottomed out around the time the sex
scandals broke in the Catholic Church in 2001. Other studies have a
found “a significant decline
in religious participation as a result of the scandals,” and it’s
possible this decline was large enough to affect overall church
Continue reading at: http://religiondispatches.org/women-are-leaving-church-and-the-reason-seems-clear/
Signs From The Science Marches
15 hours ago