Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England many priests and religious overseers commented on the blasphemous nature of the ‘common people’. ‘’ They’re too busy standing up and waving to each other, when they should have their eyes on gods representative in the pulpit’’ and ‘’They could hear a glorious sermon from a very reverend preacher for twenty years and take no more notice than the seats they sit on’’.

These sort of comments give me the impression that the ‘common people’ of the time believed, not so much in religious piety, as in social customs. Going to church being more a day out meeting friends than a duty to a god.

I wonder how much of a roll cultural norms as opposed to religious belief has on peoples propensity to go to church today?

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That sounds like a job for Pew Research Center. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a poll on their website that crunches the numbers.

Church pot luck suppers, church picnics...

I'll be joining up myself Patricia.

I think the churches have always been after us to take everything more seriously. This is why Evangelicals have revivals and "old time camp meeting." As for the idea of "worship" (said in a context of the question "who do you worship?") I'm thinking it was always about fellowship, singing, and visiting friends and neighbors. Not much actual worship goes on.

What does the clergy really know? They know that the gullible "have a fellowship hole in the middle of their hearts." They lie to you a little and try to fill that hole.

God had nothing to do with it.

I doubt if it would be possible to get an honest result from any poll conducted. People probably don't see any difference between social Sunday gatherings and ascetic worship.

My mother was 'religious but not spiritual'.  That is, she didn't buy for a moment any of the magical nonsense, but believed that religion, or at least church, was important in maintaining social structure.  She may have been right, but it matters what that social structure is.  She finally stopped attending church after we moved to the U.S. South and she saw that 'our' denomination, which was by far the dominant one, was tightly bound to the Ku Klux Klan.

}}}} 

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