Poll: No evidence that recession pulls people into pews

WASHINGTON -- The economic recession has not led to an increase in attendance at U.S. houses of worship, according to Gallup pollsters.

Despite anecdotal evidence cited in high-profile media outlets, Americans' worship patterns have held steady in 2008, the Gallup Poll reports. Since mid-February, Gallup said, it has asked 1,000 adults a day how often they attend church, synagogue or mosque.

About 42 percent have said they go weekly or almost weekly, with no increase in September through December, when the recession tightened its hold on the U.S. economy.

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Gallup also said there have been no significant change in the percentage of Americans who say they attend church about once a month, seldom, or never.

"The available data on self-reported church attendance among American adults do not appear -- as of mid-December -- to support the hypothesis that on a society-wide basis, the current bad economic times have resulted in an increase in Americans' churchgoing behavior," Gallup's Dec. 17 report said.

The pollsters said they conduct about 30,000 interviews per month on church attendance, which results in a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point for the surveys.


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