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More Education Equals Less Religious Engagement, Save for Christianity

Christianity is an exception to the rule that religious engagement of U.S. adults declines as education level increases, a Pew Research Center analysis finds.

The percentages of all adults who say religion is very important, pray regularly and believe in God with absolute certainty all decline as education rises.

For example, 58 percent of respondents with a high school diploma or less say religion is very important in their lives, compared to 46 percent of college graduates.

Similarly, the percent who believe in God with absolute certainty moves from 66 percent (high school diploma or less) to 55 percent (college degree), and those who pray daily declines from 57 to 50.

U.S. Christians did not follow this trend, as their religious engagement remained relatively steady across education levels.

Those with a high school degree or less and college graduates were equally likely to pray (67 percent). Belief in God declines only 1 percentage point (from 75 to 74) between high school and college graduates, while those affirming religion as very important in their lives declines slightly from 70 to 64 percent.

When it came to worship attendance, education had no significant impact for most faith traditions.

“Americans with college degrees are no less likely than others to report attending religious services on a weekly basis,” Pew stated. “Roughly a third of U.S. adults with college degrees (36 percent) say they attend a house of worship at least weekly, about the same as the share of those with some college (34 percent) and those with a high school diploma or less education (37 percent) who say they attend services once a week or more.”

Christians were, yet again, unique as worship attendance increased as education increased – 52 percent of Christians with a college degree attended worship weekly, compared to 46 percent of those with a high school diploma or less.

The full report is available here.