The Disappearing Religious Gender Gap

photo by Greg Smith

photo by Greg Smith

It is relatively well known that America is a more religious country than most and that in America women are significantly more religious than men based on most traditional measures of religious belief and behavior.

When I discuss religious behavior with a variety of audiences one measure resonates more than any other: attending religious services.  New research suggests that the once wide gender gap in religious service is now narrowing. More specifically, it was was cut in half from 1982 to 2012.

In 1982, 38% of women and 25% of men – a 13% gap – claimed to attend a religious service at least once a week. By 2012 only 28% of women and 22% of men – a 6% gap – were making this claim.

So What?

The decades long decline in religious belief and behavior is well documented.  The narrowing of the gender gap is not.  It is important that religious leaders not only ask the why question, but also the “so what” question.

  • Why do you think the gap has narrowed so significantly over the last 30 years?
  • What are the implications of more equal participation in worship by men and women on a national level and for your local congregation?

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