PRINCETON, NJ -- America's churches will be much fuller than usual this weekend as Christians celebrate Easter, one of the two times a year when church attendance in the United States is traditionally at its highest.
Research Gallup has conducted in past years has shown that anywhere between 62% and 64% of Americans say they plan to attend church on Easter.
That can be contrasted with the more typical attendance patterns by which about 4 out of 10 Americans tell Gallup interviewers that they either attended church within the last seven days, or that they attend at least once a week or almost every week.
If Easter church attendance mirrors the typical patterns found in America today, those in the pews will be decidedly older and more likely to be female than the general population. Twenty-six percent of 18- to 29-year-olds Gallup interviewed as part of its ongoing tracking project report that they usually attend church weekly, compared to 46% of those 65 and older. Thirty-eight percent of women attend weekly, compared to 30% of men.
When age and gender are combined, the differences are even more stark. At the low end of the spectrum are 18- to 29-year-old men, only 24% of whom attend church services weekly. At the other extreme, 51% of women 65 and older attend weekly.
Blacks are significantly more likely than whites to say they attend church weekly. Hispanics, whose self-reported church attendance is almost as high as that of blacks, are also more likely than whites to report weekly church attendance.
A Christian, and Religious, Nation
Easter is a Christian celebration, and a review of Gallup polling continues to reveal a nation that remains strongly Christian in its religious orientation.
Gallup data show that 79% of Americans currently identify as Christian -- either Protestant, Roman Catholic, or some other Christian religion.
Given that about 14% of Americans in Gallup's surveys either say they have no religion or refuse to answer, the proportion of Americans who identify themselves with a particular Christian religion rises to about 92%.
America is also a religious nation. Data from aggregated surveys conducted in 2007 show that 6 out of 10 Americans believe religion can answer all or most of today's problems; that 56% consider religion to be very important in their lives and only 17% say it is not important; and that 61% of Americans report being a member of a church or synagogue.