WASHINGTON – American churchgoers are just as likely to use Twitter, Facebook and the Internet as non-churchgoers, according to a new study that shows the impact that technology can have on spreading a church’s message.
The landline and cell phone survey of 2,303 adults by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project showed that:
– 9 percent of those actively involved in religious groups use Twitter, the same percentage as the general population.
– 46 percent of those in religious groups use social networking sites – almost identical to the 47 percent of all adults.
– 60 percent of both groups use text messaging.
– 79 percent of those actively involved in religious groups use the Internet while 76 percent of all adults do so.
Attendance, though, was a factor in determining the percentage of churchgoers involved in social media and electronic communication. For instance, 54 percent of weekly churchgoers use Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn – a much smaller percentage than the 71 percent of monthly churchgoers and 65 percent of less frequent churchgoers who do so. Pew said the average age of weekly churchgoers could explain the disparity.
– 9 percent of weekly churchgoers use Twitter (15 percent of monthly churchgoers and 14 percent of less frequent churchgoers do so).
– 26 percent of weekly churchgoers make donations online (35 percent of monthly churchgoers; 27 percent of less frequent churchgoers).
– 70 percent of weekly churchgoers who have a cell phone send or receive text messages (80 percent of monthly churchgoers; 77 percent of less frequent churchgoers).
– 36 percent of weekly churchgoers use their cell phone to access the Internet (51 percent of monthly churchgoers; 45 percent of less frequent churchgoers).
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Read the full survey at http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Social-side-of-religious.aspx.)