Well, maybe a little bit. Gallup shows an increase in self-reported “at least once a week” or “almost every week” church attendance over the past two-and-a-half years–from 42.1 percent in 2008 to 42.8 percent in 2009 to 43.1 in the first half of 2010. Meanwhile, the Labor Department’s annual American Time Use Survey (ATUS) shows an uptick in “spiritual and religious activities,” from .14 hours per day per adult in 2008 to .15 hours per day in 2009–i.e from 8.4 to 9 minutes. Although the Gallup result should not be taken as accurate in itself–it’s simply not the case that Americans attend church in such numbers–it does mean something that more people are reporting attendance, especially in light of the ATUS.
Gallup notes that the inching up has occurred during a period when Americans’ confidence about the economy has also been increasing, That’s something of a counter-intuitive result as far as Gallup is concerned. Back when the recession hit, the organization released a poll showing no increase in church attendance, opining:
It is not an unreasonable conjecture that the current recession would
cause Americans to increasingly turn to religion as a surcease from
their economic or personal sorrow. But that does not appear to be the
Actually, evidence from the Great Depression would suggest that Americans, if anything, turn away from religion during hard times. Why? Perhaps because they have bought into the old Calvinist (and new Prosperity Gospel) idea that being right with God will benefit you materially. When that doesn’t work…well, maybe you’ve been sold a line of goods. Why go to a place that hasn’t kept its part of the bargain?