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ARDA Guiding Papers Series

The Decline of American Religion?

by Mark Chaves


In his original essay “The Decline of American Religion?” Mark Chaves notes the interesting fact that every indicator of religiosity in the United States is either stable or very slowly in decline. Is this evidence of American secularization? And to what extent are these indicators significant to some larger theoretical issue? Dr. Chaves invites us to ponder these questions with him.

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Please use the following when citing this paper:

Chaves, Mark. 2011. The Decline of American Religion? (ARDA Guiding Paper Series). State College, PA: The Association of Religion Data Archives at The Pennsylvania State University, from http://www.thearda.com/rrh/papers/guidingpapers.asp.

Mark Chaves is Professor of Sociology, Religion, and Divinity at Duke University and director of the National Congregations Study (NCS). NCS is a wide-ranging survey, conducted in 1998 and again in 2006-07, and is available on the ARDA. Professor Chaves is the author of Congregations in America (Harvard, 2004), Ordaining Women: Culture and Conflict in Religious Organizations (Harvard 1997), and many articles. His latest book, American Religion: Contemporary Trends is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.