How often do you really attend church?

I haven’t blogged in a few days as, well, I’ve been busy with other things.

I’ve been playing some quick catch-up with things religious and enjoyed a post by my friend Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA TODAY.

She writes about a new study from a U of Michigan researcher about church attendance.

I always wonder about church (and other house of worship) attendance figures. They often seem awfully high, don’t they? (Although my perceptions could be skewed by living in an area where a lot of people don’t attend a house of worship…)

According to Cathy’s blog, Philip Brenner, a University of Michigan research fellow with the Institute for Social Research, has found that “Americans exaggerate their church attendance more than anyone else.”


She then writes: “About 23% of Americans actually do attend church “regularly” (two or three times a month or more) according to time diaries (in which people account for 24 hours of recent activity). But 35% to 45% say they attend regularly when asked on surveys.”

Brenner doesn’t really think that people are lying about how often they go.

He tells Cathy: “When you ask people if they attended church, they hear that question pragmatically. They reflect on their identity as a religious person and they want to honestly report their identity as a religious person.

“So I think they are being honest with how they understand the question: ‘Are you the sort of person who attends religious services?’ is what they think they hear and they say yes.”

If you want to know more — I do — Brenner’s research will be published in Public Opinion Quarterly.