Researchers at two of
Britain’s top universities claim that church attendance in many Western nations
is falling because people are living longer and therefore have less fear of
The result, the studies say,
is a “graying church.” In Britain, one in four older adults (65 or older)
attends church, while just 11 percent of those between 16 and 44 are regular churchgoers.
The project was conducted by
researchers at St. Andrews University in Scotland and the University of East
Anglia in England and published in the International Journal of Social
East Anglia’s Elissaios
Papyrakis wrote that younger people question the benefits of going to church
year after year, whereas the elderly are far more apt to consider religion’s
promise of life after death.
Some critics, however, say
the theory is a harder match for the U.S., which leads other industrialized
nations in church attendance.
Papyrakis said churches
should concentrate more on the good things religion can offer, starting early.
That, he added, “can counterbalance the negative impact of life expectancy on
religiosity — which in effect reduces concern about life after death.”
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