When I logged into Twitter on Easter Monday morning, I was pleasantly surprised. As anyone who has spent time on Twitter knows, timelines related to Catholicism or politics (as mine is) tend to lean strongly negative. Yet on Easter Monday morning, I was flooded with tweets celebrating new members of the Catholic Church. It was a beautiful reminder that God’s grace is always working in the world.
But (you knew there had to be a “but,” didn’t you?) this little oasis of good news can’t mask the fact that overall trends do not look good for the Catholic Church, particularly in America. And as I’ve written before, the trends are particularly bleak since the year 2000, with numbers cratering this century. A new Gallup poll shows that this recent downturn isn’t confined to Catholics, though.
Gallup has been measuring church membership in this country since the 1930’s, and from 1937 until 2000, the percentage of Americans who claim membership in a church (or synagogue or mosque) remained relatively stable around 70%. Yet starting in 2000 (there’s that year again), the percentage has fallen off a cliff, and for the first time ever, is now below 50%. There are now more Americans who deny church membership than claim it. We are officially a pagan nation.