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Easter church attendance slipping

Going to church on Easter Sunday — one of the holiest and most attended services in the Christian calendar — is no longer a must-do even for the faithful.

Among self-identified Christians, just over half said they will attend Easter services this year in a recent poll taken by LifeWay Research, a religion data tracking firm in Nashville. Protestants (58 percent) and Catholics (57 percent) are most likely to say they plan to go, followed by 45 percent of nondenominational Christians.

Factor in the non-religious, and the result is that about as many Americans plan on attending an Easter service as not (41 percent going to 39 percent not). Twenty percent said they are undecided.

“Easter and Christmas are the most revered worship observances of the Christian faith,” said Scott McConnell, the director of LifeWay Research.

“The crux of the gospel is not just that Jesus came to earth in human form which we celebrate at Christmas, but that he lived a sinless life and was crucified in the place of mankind,” McConnell said.

Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, the crux of the faith’s beliefs.

“This is what makes Easter so significant. Yet, surprisingly, many who call themselves Christian have no intentions of going to Easter services,” he said.

In a previous LifeWay Research survey on church attendance, 32 percent of Protestant pastors said Easter typically has the highest attendance for worship services with 93 percent saying it is in their top three in attendance.

The new survey said Americans in the Northeast (33%) are less likely to plan on attending than those in the South (44%) or Midwest (46%).

Americans age 55-64 (29%) are the least likely to plan on attending.

Americans age 65+ (50%) are more likely to plan on attending than those age 18-29 (41%).

LifeWay Research conducted the survey of 1,060 adult Americans March 13, among a sample representing the adult population of the United States. Responses were weighted by region, age, ethnicity, gender, and income and provides a sampling error from the panel of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

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