Which Americans Exaggerate Church Attendance Most

Responses vary when interviewing evangelicals, Catholics, and the unaffiliated online vs. by phone.
Which Americans Exaggerate Church Attendance Most
Image: Jimmy McIntyre/Flickr

Whether evangelical or mainline, white or black, Catholic or unaffiliated, a new survey finds that many Americans have one thing in common: We exaggerate our church attendance.

But the degree depends on denomination.

White evangelicals are twice as likely to admit they rarely go to church if asked online (17 percent) vs. over the phone by a live human being (9 percent). Black Protestants display a similar split (24 percent online vs. 14 percent by phone).

But the greater exaggerators (based on differences of 17 to 18 percentage points): white mainline Protestants, Catholics, and the unaffiliated. (See full findings below.)

Americans inflate their responses to religious questions in telephone surveys compared to online surveys, according to Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). In its latest study, "I Know What You Did Last Sunday," PRRI found that 36 percent of all telephone respondents said they attend a religious service weekly, while 30 percent said they "seldom ...

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