Magi Mike's Blog

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Poor White Americans Are No Longer Attending Church

with 3 comments

The less educated are disappearing from the American religious sector, as well as disappearing from the American labor market.

Over the past 40 years, wages have fallen and rates of unemployment have risen markedly for moderately educated men, while wages have remained stagnant for moderately educated women. During the same period, the moderately educated have become less likely to hold family centered beliefs and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college educated adults. For the least educated, those without high school degrees, the economic situation has been worse, and they have also become less likely to hold family centered beliefs, and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college educated adults.

Simultaneously, religious service attendance has decreased for all white Americans since the early 1970s, but the decline has been more than twice that of those without college degrees compared with those who graduated from college, according to new research by W Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia based on data from the General Social Survey and the National Survey of Family Growth. Americans with higher incomes attend religious services more often, and those who have experienced unemployment at some point over the past 10 years attend less often. Wilcox said:

Today, the market and the state provide less financial security to the less educated than they once did, and this is particularly true for the moderately educated—those who have high school degrees, but didn’t graduate from a 4-year college. 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.

Modern religious institutions promote a family centered morality that values marriage and parenthood, and they embrace traditional middle class virtues such as self control, delayed gratification, and a focus on education. But the study finds that those who are married, especially if they have children, those who hold more conservative views toward premarital sex, and those who lost their virginity later than their peers, attend religious services more frequently. It makes sense that less educated whites, who are now less likely to be stably employed, to earn a decent income, to be married with children, and to hold family centered views, also do not attend as often services at religious institutions that continue to uphold conventional norms.

At, a commentator had a blunter explanation. People don’t go to church because they realize the organizations are corrupt, and in no way reflect the teachings or practices of Jesus or the early church. Churches in America have become nothing more than a Ponzi scheme to make pastors wealthy at everyone else’s expense. It isn’t about doing good for other people either, for many of them. The poor are writing off the churches because they support the system that oppresses them despite the plain contradiction of economic exploitation by Jesus.

Written by mikemagee

21 August, 2011 at 8:28 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Couldn’t agree with you more Mike. An interesting study in American churches is one of the 501c3. It is amazing to me how the church has gone from having all things in common to not being able to give someone cash to help pay a mortgage or buy groceries unless it is in their government approved tax exempt budget. Man’s love of money (The Bible calls it Mammon), is what drives the vast majority of “churches.”

    But, if The Church is defined, as it originally was, as the people, then the theology of capitalism breaks down rather quickly. “Giving to the church” goes from being a check written to an institution to a lifestyle that is lived with the interests of others in mind. “Going to church” ceases to exist and is replaced by gathering as The Church. Finally, “Head Pastors” are replaced by The Head Himself, Jesus Christ exactly as Paul wrote that things should be (1 Cor 12), and “Pastors” are shepherds and servants, giving everything they have to and for the flock they protect.

    I would highly encourage you to do some investigation into the 501c3 and the “Free Church.” I think you would enjoy the research.



    4 September, 2011 at 3:40 pm

  2. Alan

    4 September, 2011 at 3:42 pm

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