• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Family Fact of the Week: Oh Come, All Ye Faithful

    Despite the increasing effort to strike “Christmas” from our common vocabulary, 91 percent of Americans say that they personally celebrate the holiday, according to a LifeWay Research poll. While it’s not surprising that almost all self-identified Christians (97 percent) celebrate Christmas, 89 percent of agnostics or those with no religious preference, 62 percent of non-Christian faiths, and even 55 percent of atheists do so as well.

    Much of this may be explained by the fact that, although the majority of Americans recognize the religious source of Christmas, Christmastime activities tend to be centered on family and traditions rather than the overtly religious. For example, 89 percent of households give gifts to family members. Other typical activities are having a Christmas meal with family or friends (86 percent) and putting up a Christmas tree (80 percent).

    However, Christmastime does appear to inspire many to become more churchgoing. Not surprisingly, 70 percent of Catholics and 60 percent of Protestants attend special services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. In addition, 22 percent of non-Christian faiths, 9 percent of agnostics or those with no religious preference, as well as 2 percent of atheists attend Christmas services as well. In all, Christmas attendance is about 47 percent.

    To put that in the context of the rest of the year, 10 percent of Americans attend religious services several times a year; 16 percent attend one to three times a month; 30 percent attend weekly or more frequently; and 43 percent rarely or never attend, according to the General Social Survey, which has tracked religious attendance in America for the last 40 years.

    Since 1972, when the General Social Survey began tracking such numbers, religious attendance has been declining. Only the share of monthly attendees has remained relatively stable. The shares of yearly and weekly attendees have both decreased (from 14.5 to 10.3 percent and 41.2 to 30.3 percent, respectively), while those who rarely or never attend have increased significantly (from 28.5 to 43.5 percent). In fact, since the mid-1990s, those who stayed away have outnumbered those who go frequently, and the gap continues to widen.

    The implications of such a pattern could be far-reaching. Decades of social science research suggests that individual and corporate religious practices are linked to positive personal and social outcomes, such as increased religious and secular charitable giving and volunteerism, a more stable and safer family environment, higher-quality marriages, greater parental involvement, better health for children as well as adults, and reduced risk behaviors among teens.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    Comments are closed.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×