Good God, I Feel Better Already…



Gallup estimated that 118 million Americans went to church last weekend. The Hartford Institute identified 350k religious congregations across the United States. Notwithstanding that level of activity, the country has clearly turned more secular; 2020 was the first year when less than half of all Americans (47%) identified as a member of a church, synagogue or mosque. In 1999, that number was 70% and had been consistently above that threshold for the prior 60 years.

This religious “shoulder season” between year-end holidays and Easter offers an interesting window to reflect on the role of religion in healthcare. The obvious societal crosscurrents and turbulence arguably have further polarized an already fractured country. Fewer Americans identify as Christian, now standing at 63%, while 29% of U.S. adults claim to have no religious affiliation. More than 40% are Protestant and 21% are Catholic. Other religions continue to be a relatively modest yet important slice of the overall population, according to Pew Research Center data. In large measure due to the pandemic, in-person attendance has declined between 30-50% according to the Barna Group, which studies religion in the U.S., and yet it is believed that 45% of Americans still pray daily (which is admittedly down from 58% in 2007).

Reproduced from Pew Research Center. Chart: Axios Visuals

Religion is also a big business. According to Cause IQ data, religious organizations employ 321k people and generated $46 billion in revenues and have cumulative assets of $133 billion. Many religious organizations have essential healthcare affiliations (Read more...)