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Less-educated Americans are losing religion, study finds
The decline in church attendance among whites without college degrees is twice as high as for those with college degrees.
August 24th, 2011
03:17 PM ET

Less-educated Americans are losing religion, study finds

By Liane Membis, CNN

(CNN) - If you don't have a college degree, you’re less likely to be up early on Sunday morning, singing church hymns.

That's the upshot of a new study that finds the decline in church attendance since the 1970s among white Americans without college degrees is twice as high as for those with college degrees.

Study: More educated tend to be more religious

“Our study suggests that the less-educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, who was lead researcher on the project.

The research, presented this week at American Sociological Association's annual meeting, found that 37% of moderately educated whites - those with high school degrees but lacking degrees from four-year colleges - attend religious services at least monthly, down from 50% in the 1970s.

Among college-educated whites, the dropoff was less steep, with 46% regularly attending religious services in the 2000s, compared with 51% in the '70s.

The study focuses on white Americans because church attendance among blacks and Latinos is less divided by education and income.

Most religiously affiliated whites identify as Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, Mormons or Jews.

Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes.

Religious institutions tend to promote traditional middle-class family values like education, marriage and parenthood, but less-educated whites are less likely to get or stay married and may feel ostracized by their religious peers, the researchers said.

The researchers expressed concern about the falloff in church attendance among the less-educated.

“This development reinforces the social marginalization of less educated Americans who are also increasingly disconnected from the institutions of marriage and work,” said Andrew Cherlin, co-author of the study and a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University.

Wilcox said that those who do not attend church are missing out on potential benefits.

“Today, the market and the state provide less financial security to the less educated than they once did,” Wilcox said. “Religious congregations may be one of the few institutional sectors less-educated Americans can turn to for social, economic and emotional support in the face of today’s tough times, yet it appears that increasingly few of them are choosing to do so.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church • Polls

soundoff (1,621 Responses)
  1. Chris the Mormon

    The fact that they entertain this a serious article, is in itself, hilarious.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  2. Jon

    One thing to remember, however, is that joining a religion should not be about "social benefits" but about belief. Fortunately there are religious groups across the belief spectrum, even some for atheists, so thankfully one can have these benefits without sacrificing honesty to self. "Religious" can be a very general word - most generally, it can mean being bound to some deep set of values that guide your life, and everyone needs that.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • sardukar

      yes yes..one needs to do some god shopping and pick some discounts..

      August 25, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • JamesW

      sardukar – in regards to both of your post about shopping. a light hearted answer is yes, of course you should. on a more serious note it is amazing what people will belief and convince themselves is correct. If people would "shop" more with their head and not their heart they would see many programs that pass their selves off as religion is very dangerous and self serving for someone other than the folks sitting in the pew.
      So, yes, I would certainly say "shop around" there are in deed some real nutting things going on out there,,be safe!

      August 25, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  3. Jim

    An atheist declaring there is no God, is the equivalent of a two year old saying, "I'm gonna beat you up." It's so trivial and ridiculously absurd it doesn't even merit a response. They're opinionated lemmings who'll soon join the other former atheists who in hell who now believe in God. They'll troll Christian sites because they're insecure, as well as immature which is obvious. To answer a fool, is to become one with the fool. They're annoying gnats, ignore them.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Paul

      You could say the EXACT same thing for someone who claims there is a god, you know.

      One simply accepts not knowing, the other pretends to know and tries to run the world on that.

      I personally don't care that you believe there's a god. Good for you. But apparently it's made you into a self-righteous dlck.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Bruce

      Or perhaps what is written in the scriptures is actually true, and these atheists have had their hearts hardened to the truth, their eyes blinded to the truth, their ears deafened to the truth, by God–just like Pharaoh's heart was hardened in Moses' time.

      But of course you and I don't actually BELIEVE that the scriptures are true, now, do we?

      August 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      You need to watch your judging other people. God alone is to be the judge. You don't know what has happened in their life to cause their unbelief so you cannot judge their heart.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Colin

      Jim's admonition actually highlights one of the sillier christian supersti.tions, the whole whole believe or burn nonsense. It allows believers to smugly tell non-believers they’ll get their “comeuppance”.

      Think it through, though. You don’t have to kill, you don’t have to steal, you don’t even have to litter. All you have to do is refuse to believe in [the Christian] god and he will inflict a punishment on you an infinite times worse than the death penalty….and he loves you.

      Its Dark Ages nonsense made up to keep the gullible in line. I guess some people have moved on from the 1400s and some haven't.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  4. Mormons-R-Cult

    Less likely to be brainwashed. Sorry, people who buy into religion are automatically less intelligent than those who do not, period.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      So you are saying people who believe everything is just an accident are automatically smarter?

      August 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Wootings

      That is correct.

      In the case of the less-educated, they probably do feel ostracized by the wealthier churchgoers...who tend to have college degrees just as a function of demography. The fact that well-educated people still buy into religion does nothing but underline how woeful our education system is – imagine if we had college graduates still believing in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. Actually...they kind of are...

      August 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Thomas

      Obviously you're not a Christian since you have a biggoted viewpoint and no love for your fellow man. I will pray for you.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Wootings

      @Joxer – people who believe in things based on testable evidence are smarter. People who believe wildly unrealistic claims without any testable evidence are idiots.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Wootings

      @Thomas – on the contrary, atheists as a whole tend to be more concerned with treating others with respect than the religious do.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • heynow

      Ah, yes...the good old "I will pray for you": the Christian equivalent of "F_ck you."

      August 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      @ Wootings While I understand your viewpoint, not experiencing something does not mean it is impossible. I have gone through a long road of being raised Christian, doubting in God, researching many different religions including atheism, and coming full circle into belief again. I know why I believe what I do and yet I still keep my mind open that I might be wrong. I don't know what you have experienced in your life to cause your unbelief, but I hope you will try and keep your mind open about the possibility of God.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  5. sardukar

    I worship my pillow..it gives me great pillowgasm at the end of the day. Besides I can see and touch it..helps with the credibility..I dont pray to it ..I pray to ..Joe Pesci..

    August 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  6. JamesW

    More educated folks think they are too good or too smart for church. Apparently modesty is not one of their stronger attributes. A truly smart person has learned they do not know everything. That is a characteristic of a novice, not an experienced or wise person.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • hookedonphonics

      The article is opposite your point. It's saying the more educated attend church more often while the less educated are leaving.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • heynow

      Actually, you both missed it – the article is saying one demographic is in sharper decline than the other. Both groups are beginning to show smaller attendance.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Charles

      I would even say that there is a difference between instruction and education. Instruction comes from the system and teaches you to survive in the world while education comes from family and from within and teaches you how to live with yourself and others. Instruction can be a good thing, but the the danger is that most people don't know how to manage emotions such as pride or motivation without distroying others around them. Not only do I know I know very little, but more importantly, I know I need God to help me live with others.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  7. Jules633

    I really don't understand why so many athiests troll the belief blog to poke fun at those who choose to be belivers. If you are so convinced that you are correct, why the need to be so disrespectful of those who feel differently? Instead of sounding confident and self assured in your choice, many of you come off sounding like bullies - as though you have to constantly prove the superiority of your choice by putting down others who believe differently. It is, of course, your choice as to whether you want to read and post on this site, but why waste your time here if the question is settled for you?

    August 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Colin

      I'll make deal with you Jules, you theists agree to stop trying to set social policy that binds all of us, based on the perceived wishes of your Bronze Age sky-god, and I'll never post another comment. A few quick examples include – (i) a woman's right to choose; (ii) use of condoms and other contraceptives; (iii) basic $ex education for teens; (iv) teaching evolution in school; (v) assisted suicide; (vi) gay marriage; (vii) treating drug abuse as principally a medical issue; (viii) population control; (ix) buying alcohol on a Sunday; and (x) stem cell research.

      You Bible-cuddlers stop telling non-believers we must conform on these matters and we'll stop trying to raise you out of your dark superst.itions.

      Until then, the best way to fight is to expose the deep inanity of religious beliefs, and the impossibility of 9any) god existing, so as to educate and enlighten those with an open mind.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Bruce

      Well, Jules633–to be fair, the "belief" blog often has nothing to do with belief per se. This article is a perfect example, because it is not treating "religion" as a belief/opinion of the individual with regards to specific religious ideas, but rather it equates religion with attendance at weekly church worship services. Further, it goes on to link this "religion" to other social insti.tutions such as marriage, family, and work.

      Also, belief is not so much chosen as it happens to you. If you see the sun rise in the morning every morning for several years, you don't really "choose" to believe it will rise again in (roughly) the same place tomorrow morning. This belief impinges itself upon you.

      Go ahead. Try and "choose" to believe that the sun won't rise tomorrow. I don't think you can. Most people are not in control of their beliefs like that.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Mormons-R-Cult

      Sorry, your description applies to Christians far more than it does to atheists.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • BigMike

      Evangelical Christians do the exact same thing on stories where their opinions are not needed or wanted. Instead of stereotyping an entire people, you should realize that there are Atheist trolls just like there are Christian trolls. Every society has its dregs.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Laughing

      Personally I come on the belief blog to debate believers and see exactly why the believe in the things they do. I see nothing wrong with debate and I think if you are going to firmly believe in something and base your life around it, you should be able to defend it against scrutiny. Do you not agree?

      August 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • hahaha

      We live in a republic and we are trying to fight off it becoming a theocracy. Religion should stay in the home, it has no place in public forums.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • JamesW

      This discussion is a primary example of what is wrong with our country and the world. Colin you are correct in that christians should not push their beliefs on others. Where you are not correct is in assuming your personal beliefs are the only correct ones. The whole idea that there should be a seperation of church and state was a noble idea that humas can not seem to accept. There is a reason it should be seperate unless you are going to have a church run state. The government should be religion neutral which is what you are actually referring to, but they are not and that is not the fault of the religion that again is a fault of people. It is or should not be over looked that the world benefits greatly from religious belief. If not you would not have laws for things such as stealing, murder assualt. There is nothing outside of religious teachings that says those things are bad. They are christian principles, are relgious teachings taken too far, YES without a doubt. It does not make religion wrong or any less true. You are also correct we should respect your beliefs as you should ours. It is people that cause the trouble when they are too pig headed to agree to disagree and come to a happy middle ground. Remember as long as you and I live and people are in charge of anything, no one is going to get their own way or be completely happy.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • sardukar

      ..sooo if Im an Atheist and I for some strange reasons want to explore the believe system should I do God shopping first..cuz you know there are so many of them and they all promise some stuff.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Colin

      James, fair comment. I agree with you with a few exceptions. Most notably, I do not tie belief in the supernatural to morality. Because I am lazy, I will copy and post my comment on this from my post below. While we atheists reject the supernatural elements of the Bible, we nevertheless retain a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over your head in order to act in a manner that you consider moral.

      If morality were extricably tied to belief in the supernatural, atheists would fill the prisons (and law firms -:))

      August 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Laughing

      Oh JamesW, you should probably do a little more research before typing huh?

      If you want historical proof that morality, laws against stealing and murder existed before christianity you can do 2 things, one, read your old testement (I'll give you a hint, it comes right before the new testement). You can also look up Hammurabis Code. You could also think for a second and wonder, was murder, stealing, adultry considered wrong before jesus? The answer is undoubtedly yes and to think that christianity has a monopoly on morality is just plain pig-headed.

      Secondly, I will admit that religion has provided good things to the world..... all religion. There is great art and music that are religious in nature, and sometimes it drives people to reform, but you seem to overlook the outrageous and overwhelming evil that has been perpetrated and continues to happen in the name of religion as well.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • MarkinFL

      "stealing, murder assualt. " are pretty much crimes in every society. Christians are certainly no less likely to commit them but they certainly aren't the only ones to recognize them as crimes.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • JamesW

      Colin – were will certainly disagree on our core beliefs many of things you are say I do agree. Which I always find it entertaining that at the end of the day we argue over details. There are plenty of things to agree on. And many of the things you take issue with is again that in which the goverment chooses to do and yes they are people which in lies the problem. If they were really trying to find a happy medium in which to have a country get along they would try harder to find that middle ground. Of course I suppose they do but when folks on your side and mine do not get their way they become as little children and whine and moan about it.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • EuphoriCrest

      @Colin: Well said, sir!

      August 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • JamesW

      Laughing – I am neither ignorant nor short sighted. There is just only so much that can be said in a forum. You too are correct on some accounts.
      And I will not sit here and deny all the terrible things that have been done in the name of religion. I just find it that folks want to blame religion for things people do and I already said that it is hard to seperate the two.
      But it makes no more sense than to ban and hate automobiles for the all the tragedy they cause.....but then give us time as it seems we find new ways to stupid and unable to accept responsibility for things and blame that which enabled us rather than our own behaviour. I will tell you as I do Colin, in a civil unemotional discussion we disagree at the core and in details, the rest can be oddly in agreement.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Jules633

      Colin, There are plenty of Chirstians who have diverse opionions on the issues you itemize. Not all believers have uniform beliefs. In addition, there are also plenty of non-believers who don't think society should behave as a free-for all. Ask athiest parents if they would like a clinic to be able to provide an abortion to their 10-year old without their knowledge, and I'll be their positon on parental notification will be pretty close to mine. Also, many of these laws you decry are not based on the teachings of a Bronze Age God, but on utilitarianism, determining whether something should be lawful based on the impact of the conduct, either on individual basis, or collectively if everyone were to engage in the behavior. I think blaming Christians for all these laws governing society that you don't like is a cop out.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  8. Colin

    I hope that the trend away from Bronze Age superst.itions continues. A more intelligent, secular and educated World can only be a good thing. In this vein, here are ten signs you are an atheist.

    1. You were likely brought up a theist (probably a Christian if you live in the USA) and had to do your own thinking to rise above the beliefs that still occupy the mind of the believer. This usually involved being smart and working hard at school and college so as to get a good, accurate view of the natural Universe and overcoming significant social pressure to dumb yourself down and conform. In short, you had the guts to ask the hard questions and the brains to spot the weak answers. The more you came to understand the Universe, the less reason there was to believe in a god and the more you came to appreciate human nature, the more you understood why billions of us still do.

    2. While rejecting the supernatural elements of the Bible, you nevertheless retain a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent you reject Christian morality, it is where it is mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, your basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – you just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over your head in order to act in a manner that you consider moral.

    3. You know a great deal more about the Bible than most believers. This is because you took the time to read it yourself and did not rely on the primary-color simple stories you learned in Sunday school. You have also probably done some research into the historical Jesus and have a good handle on where he REALLY fit in to the broader picture of the Middle East at the time. Needless to say, his miracles and other magic powers soon started to look pretty unlikely.

    4. Your knowledge of basic science and history is much stronger than that of your average believer. You likely have a basic working knowledge of physics, astronomy, evolutionary biology and cosmology and a good idea of the history of life on this planet. This acc.umulated knowledge puts you in a position to judge the claims of the Bible in a critical light and they are almost always found wanting. To the theist, this makes you “elitist” and ‘arrogant”.

    5. You relish your role as a religious minority in the USA, as this gives you an impetus to fight and you understand how others with unpopular, but doubtlessly correct views have felt throughout history. There is something altogether satisfying to you about having a deep conviction you are right and being viewed with disdain for your views by the errant majority. You feel a quiet confidence that future generations will look back on you as a member of a class of trailblazers, as religious supersti.tions go into inevitable decline in popularity.

    6. You are likely more environmentally aware than your theist friends and colleagues and unlikely to fall for claims of industry and wind-bag politicians concerning the impact of man’s activities on the environment. You could no more act in an environmentally irresponsible manner because “god will keep us safe” than you could jump of a ship, believing King Neptune will keep you safe.

    7. You generally have a live and let live atti.tude, but will fiercely defend any attempts by theists to thrust their views on you or your children, directly or through control of school boards, the legislature or the executive. While you are prepared to debate and argue passionately with the theist on an intellectual level, you would never wish them harm or ill will. You know you are likely to be smugly told you will “burn in hell for all eternity” for your healthy skepticism. This highlights what you despise about religion, as you would not wish a bad sunburn on another, simply because they have a different religious view to you. You have never heard of an evolutionary biologist strapping a bomb to himself and running into a church yelling “Darwin-u akbar”.

    8. You likely know more about other religions than your average theist. This makes you less fearful of them and enables you to see parallels. You realize that, if you were born in India, you would have been brought up with a totally different religion. You realize that every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. They cannot all exist and you see the error all faiths make of thinking only theirs exist(s). This “rising above” the regional nature of all religions was probably instrumental in your achieving atheism.

    9. You likely have a deep, genuine appreciation of the fathomless beauty and unbelievable complexity of our Universe, from the 4 nucleotides that orchestrate every aspect of you, through to the distant quasars, without having to think it was all made for you. You likely get more out of being the irrelevant ant staring up at the cosmos than you do in having to pretend that it was all made to turn in majestic black-and-white pirouette about you.

    10. While you have a survival instinct, you cannot fear death in the way the theist does. You know that the whole final judgment story, where you may be sent to hell if you fail, is Dark Ages nonsense meant to keep the Church’s authority. You also know that you were dead for 13,700,000,000 years before you were born. It is impossible for you to fear death, for the simple reason that you know the capacity to fear (or to feel pain or discomfort) itself dies. You will not even know you are dead. Fear of death is as meaningless to you as is the fear of a vacuum, the fear of not being born. You feel a lot more secure, and indeed a deep comfort, in this knowledge, than you would in trying to yoke yourself to some quasi-hope that every part of your intellect tells you is untenable.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Kindness

      overboard

      August 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Laughing

      I love this list, it always generates such lively discussion!

      August 25, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Mormons-R-Cult

      OUTSTANDING POST!

      August 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Polymath

      NOT OVERBOARD, but rather extremely insightful and spot on.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Kindness

      Very OVERBOARD and wrong.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Colin

      Kindness, perhaps you could elaborate on what you take issue with.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Laughing

      @Kindness

      Praytell, how is it overboard or wrong? Do you have anything to add or are you just going to put your fingers in your ears and scream LALALALALA YOU'RE WRONG LALALALALA

      August 25, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • kindnness

      It is overboard and wrong because it does not agree with me.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Jon NJ

      BRAVO!! Encompasses many of my views and thoughts on the matter.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • heynow

      It was too many words for kindness to process. Reading is hard.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • BasedInReality

      Great post and extremely accurate.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Kindness

      The more you came to understand the Universe, the less reason there was to believe in a god and the more you came to appreciate human nature, the more you understood why billions of us still do.

      Wrong, the more you explore the wonders of the universe the more you appreciate the wonderful creator and expert scientist that created this all.
      Humans can't even take proper care of this wonderful earth, pollution, violence against, one another, greed, hate, when man can accomplish that on his own then you may have something to talk about.....Man cannot accomplish it and they never will with intervention.

      August 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  9. JJ

    Oh. So the morons figured out that praying doesn't work, eh? Ho-frickin-hum, Captain Obvious.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  10. Andrew

    If you're going to church for economic, social or political reasons, something is wrong your concept of religion.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Bruce

      What's wrong with it? If you go for those reasons, and you get everything you wanted out of church attendance because those very things are served by going to church, it sounds to me like you've acted in a way that denotes intelligence and perception.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • sardukar

      they go to church to compare clothes you did not know that...??

      August 25, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  11. norman

    eek i dont want people go hell after they did not know who Jesus Christ is... i hope you better buy deaf Holy Bible because it is easy you to read and understand better what God's words are ..

    August 25, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      they are not gods words they are mans interpretation of gods words

      August 25, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • hahaha

      Everyone is going to someone else's he ll. For all the amazing, intelligent, peaceful people who will end up in a christian he ll I think I would choose that over a christian heaven.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  12. Melissa

    Lol. What a crock. More educated are brighter than to believe in a deity.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Bruce

      You don't have to actually believe in anything in order to attend church services on Sunday mornings. Just a fyi...

      August 25, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Kindness

      sheesh sounds like they are kinda of slow to me.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • amused123

      REALLY?! Some of the smartest people int he world are, in fact spiritual (and religious) in some way.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Rammy

      I think you hit the head on the nail, the majority of church goers that I know, go to church to put on airs, they go to reap the social benefits, not the religious

      August 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Kindness

      Rammy, Then it is not the TRUE religion. people who do that are not who God is looking for.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  13. buxxy

    Well, I have a college education and I don't go to church...because as an educated individual I question alot of what
    the Catholic church embraces....there appears to be no room for women, especially single women, gays, and others who do not fit the mold of the traditional middle class white person who, from what I have seen, attend mass. And I'm white. I have nothing in common with the kind of person described above as a typical church attendee. Sorry...

    August 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • M

      This is a survey analyzing a general trend. It doesn't invalidate the results if one person doesn't fit

      August 25, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Bruce

      LOL apparently, buxxy, your education didn't include the problematic issues associated with "anecdotal evidence."

      August 25, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • o.k.

      Buxxy–first, thanks for sharing with us your education. Perhaps you should have taken a spelling class–"alot" is not and has never been a word–try "a lot" next time. As for your concerns about having something in common with others who attend church, I can only tell you in my experience there is no such thing as "typical." We are white, black, brown, yellow, red. We are doctors, lawyers, engineers, short order cooks, waiters, and garbage collectors. We are rich, middle class and poor. We are happy, sad, angry, level headed and a little frayed. We are young and old and often in between. We are men and women. Democrats and Republicans. Left and Right. Red and Blue. What we all have in common however, is a belief in something bigger then ourselves. A power–God–who loves us and wants us to put our trust in him. If your local catholic church doesn't have the diversity you think you need outside of that common faith, find another church. If your holding back on faith because of what the other "people" who attend church are like, then you've let that insignificant fact keep you from having a relationship with a God who is waiting for you to trust him–and I can assure you the rewards are beyond any one's imagination.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  14. HappyMeal

    America, you need to be good, not just intelligent. Germans were a lot smarter and better disciplined than you were, but they lost the war because they were not good. Goodness, intelligence and strength come from God. He gives it to anyone He chooses and to those who honor Him. Stop your blasphemy now and stop wasting efforts for your national security. Read Deuteronomy and Proverbs and gain true wisdom of life and stay invincible.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Uh yeah, sure. Thanks....

      August 25, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Read History

      Sorry, thanks for trying though. The Germans lost because they were following an insane leader. They were following an insane leader because they were looking for a father figure. Read some history, and for a great explanation of the sociology behind it read "Escape from Freedom" By Erich Fromm. "Good and bad" had nothing to do with it.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  15. Carl

    Don't confuse attending church with believing in god.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  16. Ronald Gaylord

    Most educated churchgoers go to church to extend their networking tentacles as well as to project an image of rightiousness to enhance their reputation within their respective communities to further their business interests.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • buxxy

      I have to agree with you. It's been my observation as well...

      August 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Bruce

      Sounds like a mark of intelligence to me, like a marker of a person who understands how the world works (in a social context) and does what is required to make things happen. Such things come with education and other life-experiences.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Why do you think so many "Christian" politicians get caught with their pants down or their hand in the cookie jar? These people are "Christian" for appearance sake. Of course the right-wing Christians keep falling for it and voting them in every chance they get.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • M

      @buxxy, just wondering how these were your "observations" if you stated in another post that you don't attend church.....

      August 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • shadtree

      This is very true. I myself just could not stomach the hypocrisy. The Unitarian Universalist Church is a church that you can go to, and network but not have to hear all the dogma in other churches, and not be a hypocrit

      August 25, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  17. Yapper

    Dishonest headline. Church attendance has dropped across the board. Less education probably equals less money. The poor are the first to drop out of expensive activities.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Umm, going to church is expensive? I'm an atheist, but I could find any number of churches to attend with just the cost of gas to get their.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Yapper

      Yes to be a member of a church is expensive. Worse when the members are older, in order for them to receive a mass or a service upon their death, they need to be a "paying"member. My grandparents always sent money for that reason even when they were broke. There are other Churches that expect more from their members like the Mormons. I have nothing against Churches, but they do run like businesses.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Miyuki

      If you don't have a college degree you are much less likely to have Sunday's off to attend church.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Wufei

      @MarkinFL: Is the cost of gas not expensive to you? Especially in Florida where I take it you're from?

      August 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • M

      What you see in one church and one denominations doesn't apply to all the churches. You have to be careful with making generalizations like that. In most of the churchers there is nothing called "paid membership". You can just attend and leave every service and no one would ever pay to get in a "higher ranking"

      August 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • theresa

      I think there is merit to this point. Eventually, if you become active in a church, you are expected to contribute. Poor people may feel they cannot contribute money and would be embarassed to attend services without paying. As others here have stated, more educated and prosperous persons may be attending church as a method of networking and staying active in their community. They can afford to support a church financially, and they reap some benefits in social interaction with peers and others who have contacts and influence. Poor people, on the other hand, may see no benefit in attending church, especially if the church does not understand or provide help with their everyday problems or support their values.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Yapper

      Also I knew a man who was in the military ,his wife was a lifelong Catholic and gave to multiple churches but because they moved so much she didn't have a long relationship with one particular church. When she died the local Catholic Church wouldn't have service or anything for her because she wasn't a "member".

      August 25, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • MarkinFL

      In Florida it would be difficult to close your eyes, throw a stone and miss a church. So walk or ride a bike. If a particular religion has priced you out of attending then it clearly is not YOUR religion. Find one that welcomes you for who you are. If you do not care enough to find one then it is just not that important to you.
      Personally, I do not see the point, but your belief is a personal thing that has nothing to do with what I or anyone else believes. There are also churches that meet on other days and times.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  18. EuphoriCrest

    In other good news today, membership among Pastafarians is surging. rAmen

    August 25, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • tara

      May you be touched by his noodly appendage! rAmen!

      August 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • sardukar

      Ramen ramen...

      August 25, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  19. Make Ends Meet

    I used to enjoy mass on Sundays, now I have to work two jobs, one on the weekends, just to make ends meet.

    So I think this study is saying, if you can afford to church there is a higher chance you will.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Stevie7

      Fully agree. Though if you're Catholic you can get your jesus flesh every day of the week.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Yapper

      I was raised Catholic, they expect donations and it can get expensive.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Stevie7

      Well, you don't HAVE to donate, but you're likely to get looks when when you don't drop anything into the basket, and you'll likely have to sit through sermons several times a year where your bishop tells you how important giving is as well as various people of various charities asking for more. But I guess the solicitation comes with the territory.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Bruce

      Stevie7: You can always put a single dollar bill in an unmarked envelope and drop that into the basket.

      Well, assuming you're not the only one dropping unmarked envelopes into the basket I guess...

      August 25, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • someone

      The Catholic Church which I have not attended for 20 years sent me a personalized (Mr. & Mrs.) letter asking for a written promise that I would donate $108 per month for 5 years for their building fund (and the letter was followed up with a phone call). This is in addition to a 'regular monthly contribution'. That $108 is not some nice round figure. They calculated it from somewhere – where?
      They even tracked down my current address, which is different than when I was a member. Odd that they knew this, and the letter even called me by my nickname, but they were unaware that the Mr. and I were divorced in 1999 and he died in 2007!
      I was simply curt during the follow-up phone call – I kind of wish that I had given them an earful, but I knew that it was just some poor schmoe on a scrounge committee who was calling.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  20. OldRightRep

    Could it be those that don't have a degree, to a higher extent, work the sort of jobs (retail/service industry) that require them to work on Sundays?

    When I personally make a correlation between religious belief and education, I tend to see the opposite. My educated friends are typically much less likely to post religious drabble on facebook than my less educated friends.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Bruce

      People who attend church services on Sunday are not required to post religious drabble on Facebook, just fyi...

      August 25, 2011 at 10:51 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.