Pope Francis insists that attending Sunday Mass isn’t just an obligation of the faith, saying last year that “only with the grace of Jesus, with his presence alive in us and among us, can we put into practise his commandment and be his credible witnesses.” Yet, according to a new study from the Pew Research Centre, many Americans choose not to attend religious services because of practical or personal reasons – not because of a lack of faith.
“Why Americans Go (and Don’t Go) to Religious Services” aims to make sense of the decline in regular attendance at mass, synagogue, mosque, or some other house of worship. The study finds that the primary reason for attendance is straight forward: People want to be closer to God.
It’s making sense of why they don’t go that is more complicated.
While 81% of respondents said they attend services regularly to grow closer to God, 69% said they do so in order that their children will have a moral foundation, 68% said they do so in hopes of becoming a better person, and 66% said it’s an important comfort in times of grief or sorrow.