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The Secularization of Sunday: Real or Perceived Competition for Churches


In a survey of pastors and members of 16 declining congregations in the US and Canada, respondents most commonly identified competing Sunday activities as the primary reason for the decline in Sunday worship attendance. The repeal of “blue laws” that kept stores closed on Sundays has resulted in many more people working or shopping on Sundays, and children’s athletic activities are often scheduled on Sunday mornings at the very time when many churches traditionally have provided religious education. Based on a study of 16 mainline and conservative Protestant congregations in decline, this article considers the effect—both real and perceived—of the secularization of Sunday on congregations with declining worship attendance.

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  1. Clergy who were interviewed are identified by congregation and, only in the case of multiple staff in a single congregation, by order of being interviewed.

  2. Focus group participants and survey respondents are identified by gender, congregation, and by order of first speaking or by survey number.


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Correspondence to Steve McMullin.

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McMullin, S. The Secularization of Sunday: Real or Perceived Competition for Churches. Rev Relig Res 55, 43–59 (2013).

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