Non-churchgoers say time, not doctrine, reason for non-attendence: pollThursday, May 10th, 2012
Most self-professed Christians, both Catholics and Protestants, say that a lack of time is the main reason why they don’t go to church regularly, not disagreement with Church teachings, a new survey suggests.
The poll, conducted in the Catholic diocese of Camden in New Jersey in the United States, found that 38 per cent of non-churchgoing Christians said they simply don't have the time to attend services, while 32 per cent said they took the day off to spend with their spouse or preferred to do other things.
Thirty one per cent said they or their spouse had to work on Sundays, while 30 per cent said they hadn't found a church they liked, and 26 per cent said they weren't interested in religion. The poll also found that practicing and non-Christians are far more likely to give money to charity than those of no religious belief at all.
According to the survey, practicing Catholics were more than twice as likely as non-believers to make charitable donations to non-church organisations. The figures were 67 per cent and 31 per cent among non-believers.
The poll revealed high levels of confusion among Catholics in the diocese about what their Church teaches. For example, 57 per cent said they believed that Jesus was human and committed sins while on Earth. This dropped to 33 per cent among Protestants. Meanwhile, only 35 per cent of Catholics said they have a responsibility to tell others about their faith. This compares with 62 per cent of Protestants who believe the same thing.
When asked about their current faith compared to their faith perspective when growing up, three out of every four Camden diocese residents (75 per cent) say they have the same religious faith today that they had as a child, while 24 per cent have either changed to a different faith or significantly changed their views.
According to the poll, 90 per cent of Catholics said they had maintained the religious faith of their youth, a far higher percentage than any other faith group. Among those adults with no faith, 70 per cent “lost” their faith, saying they changed their faith views since childhood.
A majority of adults throughout southern New Jersey hold the Catholic Church in high regard; 23 per cent have a very favourable impression of the church, while 33 per cent say it is somewhat favourable. One out of every three residents has an unfavourable opinion (17 per cent somewhat favourable, 15 per cent very unfavourable).
Nearly the same proportion of residents have a favourable impression of the local Catholic church or parish (28 per cent very favourable, 26 per cent somewhat favourable), while one in five has an unfavourable opinion (1 0 per cent somewhat unfavourable, nine per cent very unfavourable), and 27 per cent have no impression at all.
Bishop Joseph Galante said the findings of the poll were both “disturbing” and “intriguing.”
Speaking to news website CourierPostOnline.com, he said, “The number of Catholics who have a very flawed, a seriously flawed, understanding of who Jesus is, that’s troublesome.”
“We’ve got to re-focus on how we teach and inform people. Jesus is the foundation of who we are as Catholics. If we’re not getting that through to people, that’s part of the reason why we’re having problems.”
by Tom O'Gorman