The Crash Plus 1: Are our houses of worship feeling the crunch?

Church offering plate
Is the recession bad for organized religion?


Is your church, mosque, or temple cutting back? Have you put building projects on hold? Reduced staff hours? Cut staff?

Many houses of worship have cut back. Parker Memorial Baptist Church (Silver Spring, MD) and Metropolitan Baptist Church in Northwest Washington (D.C.) have shelved their building expansions, according to an article this week in the Washington Post. Many churches have seen declines in membership and offerings.

Recessions don’t always result in reduced contributions. Six recessions occurred between 1968 and 2005. Member contributions declined in three recessions and increased in three. Sometimes, contributions fall even when there isn’t a recession. (Read the report here.)
    Our current recession is severe—the worst since the Great Depression. This is one of the economic downturns that results in declining membership and contributions.

Has the recession taken its toll on your religious institution? If so, what happened? How are you coping?

Does it really matter? Given the marked increase in Americans who claim no religious affiliation, maybe the “downsizing” of organized religion matches the increasing lack of affiliation with it?

We’ll take this up next week, when we consider “The March of the Nones.” Stay tuned and tell us what you think!

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