Americans exaggerate church attendance

Dec 1, 2010

Americans exaggerate how often they go to church, according to a new University of Michigan study. The findings brining into question just how much of an outlier America is when it comes to religion.

The study finds that 40% of Americans say they attend church regularly, but only 25% actually do.

Philip Brenner is the study’s lead author. He says the U.S. is often touted as an exceptionally religious country, but the percentage of Americans who go to church is on par with countries like Italy and Spain.

Brenner says people should be "using terms like 'outlier' when talking about American religion. If we look a lot more similar to countries in Europe, and actually very similar to some countries in Europe, we need to be careful about talking about American religiosity as very different."

Brenner compiled data from studies involving 750,000 people over four decades. The study will appear in the  journal Public Opinion Quarterly.

This study comes on the heels of a new Gallup poll that shows 56% of Americans say religion is 'very important' in their lives.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life recently did a study to see how much religious and non-religious people know about world religion.

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new Pew Forum survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

Want to see how you compare? Take the Pew Religious Quiz.