A new Gallup survey measuring church attendance shows that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the highest rate of church attendance among religious groups.

Two-thirds of Latter-day Saints attend church weekly or nearly weekly.

This rate has stayed mostly steady over time. In 2000 to 2003, 68% of Latter-day Saints reported regular church attendance. There was a spike to 75% in 2011 to 2013 and data from 2021 to 2023 puts the rate at 67%.

Nearly half of Protestants including non-denominational Christians (44%) said they attended services regularly. 38% of Muslims, 33% of Catholics and 22% of Jews said the same.

The overall rate of church attendance in the U.S. has dropped. When Gallup did a survey two decades ago, 42% of U.S. adults said they attended services regularly. Now that figure is 30%, with 31% of U.S. saying they never attend services.

Among Jewish and Muslim religious groups, there’s actually been a percentage increase in attendance of 7% and 4% over the last two decades, bucking the national trend.

Gallup’s data tracks with what other studies have shown. Data scientist Ryan Burge used data from the European Social Survey and the Cooperative Election Study to determine that Utah, a state with a high percentage of Latter-day Saints, has a 56% church attendance rate. That’s compared to an overall U.S. rate of 25%.

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Are religious people happier? The science is pretty clear

Benefits of going to church

Attending religious services have a positive impact on people’s happiness.

A 2012 study from Duke professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Harold G. Koenig found that people who are more religious or spiritual “have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems” compared to the general population.

Survey data from Pew Research also shows that religious people are more likely to describe themselves as “very happy” compared to their less religious peers. 36% of actively religious U.S. adults describe themselves as “very happy” compared to 25% of adults who are inactively religious and 25% of the unaffiliated.

Digging into the General Social Survey, data scientist Stephen Cranney found what he described as a clear pattern. “Specifically, almost 1 in 3 frequent religious service attenders say they are ‘very happy,’ while among non-attenders it is about 1 in 5,” said Cranney in the Deseret News.

As for why attending religious services contributes to happiness, there are a number of reasons — one appears to be the social connections.

“Controlling for theology, church attendance, general sociability, and other demographic graphic factors, gaining friends at church seems to make you happier and nicer, and losing friends at church seems to have the opposite effects,” Harvard professor of public policy Robert D. Putnam said. “Church friends produce happier, nicer people.”