The report, and the accompanying blog entry from Mr. Barna, reveal that in the last 20 years, women’s religiosity declined by at least 10% on 4 out of 14 measures. By contrast, men’s religiosity slipped by 10% on just one measure.
Among U.S. women:
- Church attendance is down 11 percent since 1991
- Bible reading is down 10 percent
- Sunday school involvement is down seven percent
- Volunteerism is down nine percent
- The number of unchurched women is up 17 percent
Women’s beliefs also became less orthodox. Fewer women say their faith is very important to them. Fewer believe in the devil, see the Bible as accurate, or hold a traditional view of God.
Why is this happening? As I wrote in Why Men Hate Going to Church:
As women storm the formerly male-dominated worlds of business, sports, and higher education, they are becoming more comfortable with the masculine values they encounter. Today’s young women seek adventure and challenges every bit as daunting as those sought by men.
The “post liberation” generation of women is not looking for the comfortable-as-a-quilt church experience their mothers had come to expect.
And women are busy. In 2010, for the first time more women than men held jobs outside the home. Women want to give their limited spare time to an organization that’s having a measurable impact on the world.
Ironically, the best way to attract today’s women may be to make the church more man-friendly. Barna notes that “the typical Christian church exudes a female vibe.” In times past, this “female vibe” was the price churches had to pay to keep women happy, giving and volunteering. But if women are becoming more like men, does it make sense to send that vibe any more?