# Joseph H. Fichter, "The Profile of Catholic Religious Life," American Journal of Sociology, 1952,58:145-149
Later studies done in the 1970s did not indicate this pattern of church attendance.
#C. Ray Wingrove and Jon P. Alston, "Age and Church Attendance," The Gerontologist, 1971, 4:356-358.
Bahr reviewed the earliest studies of church attendance and developed four different models based on the findings of these studies. These models are:
1. The traditional model which reveals a steady drop in church attendance from ages 18-35 with the lowest point for most people being between 30 to 35 after which church attendance increases until old age.
2. The stability model asserts that there is no relationship between aging and church attendance and that the pattern of church attendance remains stable throughout one's lifetime.
3. The family cycle model indicates that church attendance is altered by stages of the family cycle. Families peak in church attendance when the children reach Sunday school age. As the children grow up and leave home, the church attendance of the parents begins to drop.
4. The disengagement model assumes that like many other areas of social participation after middle age, church attendance declines.
#Harvard M . Bahr, "Aging and Religious Disaffiliation," Social Forces, 1970.4957-71
a stability of religious belief and church attendance over the life cycle, the only exception being a decline in church attendance among the very old.
Blazer and Palmore report that religious beliefs and attitudes remain fairly stable over the life cycle with no significant increase or decrease. They did however find a gradual decrease in religious activity during the later years.
older persons were more likely to engage in private devotions than younger age groups
Apparently older persons compensate for some of their decline in religious activity which Blazer and Palmore found by engaging in private devotions. Perhaps the psychological studies which indicate a closure of personality and a turning inward on the part of older persons are true and can explain the increase in private devotionalism on the part of the older persons.
#Dan Blazer and Erdman Palmore, "Religion and Aging in a Longitudinal Panel," The Gerontologist, 1976, 16:82-85.
Riley and Foner, in their inventory of research on religion, observed that church attendance tends
to decrease rather than increase in old age.
Matilda White Riley and Ann Foner, Agingand Society, Vol. I: An Inventory of Research Findings
Moberg also observed a pattern of declining church attendance among older person.
#David 0. Moberg, "Religiosity in Old Age," The Gerontologist, 1965, 5:80.
The 1975 Harris poll (see Table 1) indicates a low in church attendance between ages 18-24 and a fairly stable attendance pattern over the life cycle with a slight increase after the age of 55 and
a slight decrease after the age of 80.7
The Harris findings confirmed the earlier findings of Havighurst and Albreckt that women attend church more frequently and maintain a higher degree of religious participation for a longer period of
time than men do.
Robert J. Havighurst and Ruth Albreckt, Older People (New York: Log-mans Green, 1953), pp. 202-203.
Other than for 18-24 year olds, the pattern of church attendance over the life cycle is fairly stable with a slight increase after age 55 and a slight decrease after age 80.
The low point in church attendance for 18-24 year olds can perhaps best be explained by the fact that this is a period of transition in their lives from teenage to adult status. They are frequently moving away from their home communities to go into the service, attend college or to take a job. It takes time to become established in the new community and reestablish the same religious ties and commitments they had in their home community. The drop in church attendance and activity noted in many of the studies among the very old was probably related to poor health and a lack of available transportation to attend church services.
Riley and Foner indicated that the older the person was, the more likely he/she was to express a belief in God.In every age category from the 18-24 to the 65 and over group, the proportion expressing
a belief in God increases
@Cox, H., & Hammonds, A. (1989). Religiosity, Aging, and Life Satisfaction. Journal of Religion & Aging, 5(1-2), 1-21
Religious Development From a Life Span Perspective
McFadden, S. H. (1995). Religion and well-being in aging persons in an aging society.
Journal of Social Issues, 51(2), 145–160.
longitudinal studies that measure aspects of religiousness in large samples of aging persons show consistency in the perceived importance of religion (Atchley, 1997a), public and private religiosity (Markides, 1983; Markides, Levin, & Ray, 1987), self-rated religiosity (Anson, Antonovsky, & Sagy, 1990), positive religious attitudes (Blazer & Palmore, 1976), and religious beliefs (Shand, 1990).
Atchley, R. C. (1997a). The subjective importance of being religious and its effect on
health and morale 14 years later. Journal of Aging Studies, 11, 131–141
Markides, K. S. (1983). Aging, religiosity, and adjustment: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Gerontology, 38, 621–635.
Markides, K. S., Levin, J. S., & Ray, L. A. (1987). Religion, aging, and life satisfaction: An eight-year, three-wave longitudinal study. The Gerontologist, 27, 660–665.
Blazer, D., & Palmore, E. (1976). Religion and aging in a longitudinal panel. The Gerontologist, 16, 82–85.
Narrative accounts of life stories and the lived-experience of aging give another view, with changes perceived in the importance of social expressions of religious piety (Pruyser, 1975), religious meditative practices (Thibault, 1993), relationships with religious institutions (Griffin, 1994), and the very idea of the sacred (Scott-Maxwell, 1983).
Pruyser, P.W. (1975). Aging: Downward, upward, or forward? Pastoral Psychology, 24, 102–118
Thibault, J. M. (1993). A deepening love affair: The gift of God in later life. Nashville,
TN: Upper Room Books.
Griffin, R. B. (1994). From sacred to secular: Memoir of a midlife transition toward spiritual freedom. In L. E. Thomas & S. A. Eisenhandler (Eds.), Aging and the religious dimension (pp. 31–50).Westport, CT: Auburn House
Scott-Maxwell, F. (1983). The measure of my days. New York: Penguin Books.
@ McFadden, S. (2000). Religion, Personality, and Aging: A Life Span Perspective (Vol. 67).
Pan found a positive correlation between (a) age and religious activities, and (b) age and dependence upon religion. As age increases, religious activities and dependence upon religion increase.
Pan, J.S., "Institutional and Personal Adjustment in Old Age," Journal of Genetic Psychology, 1954,85, 155-158.
Stark found that personal religious commitment systematically increases with age.
His study was designed to determine whether differences in religious commitment between young and old are attributed to aging, or whether these differences reflect a lower level of religiosity among the younger members of society. The four groups participating in the study included liberal Protestants, moderate Protestants, conservative Protestants, and Roman Catholics. The results indicated a systematic increase toward greater religious commitment with age for each group. He stated that "the effect of age seems to be not so much in what one believes, but in what one, does about what s/he believes.
Stark, R., "Age and Faith: A Changing Outlook or an Old Process?" Sociological Analysis, 1968,29, 1-10.
O'Reilly found that attendance rates of those aged 75 + were higher than the attendance rates of persons aged 65-74 years.16 He also found that the attendance rates of older women were higher than those of men in each equivalent age category.
O'Reilly. C.T., "Religious Practice and Personal Adjustment of Older People," Sociology and Social Research, 1957.42, 119-121.
Riley and Foner reported contrary findings. They found that church attendance is generally maintained at a high-level among those ,in their 60's, but that it gradually declines in advanced old
age. These findings suggest that this decline in attendance reflects the varied problems that predominate among the elderly. Physical capabilities, transportation availability, financial and economic problems, as well as other concerns, contribute to the declining participation in church activities.
Moberg, D.O., "Religion in the Later Years," in A.M. Hoffman, ed., The Daily Needs and Interests of Older People (Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, 1970).
Moberg, D.O., Spiritual Well-Being: Background and Issues (Washington, DC: White House Conference on Aging, 1971).
Moberg, D.O., "Religion and the Aging Family," Family Coordinator, 1972,21,47-60.
Blazer, M.D. and Palmore, E., "Religion and Aging in a Longitudinal Panel," The Gerontologist, 1976, 16, 82-85.
Fichter found that weekly church attendance was higher among older people than among younger people
Fichter, J.H., "The Profile of Catholic Religious Life," American Journal of Sociology, (1952), 58, 145-150.
Marshall cautioned that "religious phenomena that are patterned by age may be a function of generational or cohort effect^."^'" The example he used is increased religiosity in later life. He stated that any number of explanations could account for this phenomenon.
Included in the list were "aging and partially age-related factors, such as awareness of finitude, the persistence of cohort differences from earlier life, or generational experiences throughout life that are
differentially arrayed by chort
Marshall, V.W. Last Chapters: A Sociology of Aging and qting (Monterey, CA: BrwksICole, 1980).
Arglye maintained that church attendance is one of the better predictors of religiosity and religious behaviour; however, he found little agreement between church attendance and the process of aging
per se.] He claimed that little is known about how attendance fluctuates during a person's life cycle.
Argyle, M., Religious Behavior (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1959)
Payne stated that although measures of religious attendance provide reliable estimates of attendance
per se, the validity of these as measures of religiosity is qestionable.'There are no data to indicate how the elderly feel about their attendance, nor are there data that pertain to the context
of participation (i.e., the reason why they are there).
Payne, B.P., "Religiosity," in D.J. Mangen and W.A. Peterson, eds., Research Inrtruments in Social Gerontology: Vol. 2. Social Roles and Social Participation (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1982)
Older adults are more likely to be involved in religious activities, whether institutional or private (Koenig, et al., 1999; McFadden, 2008; Payne, 1989)
Koenig, H. G., Hays, J. C., Larson, D. B., George, L. K., Cohen, H. J., McCullough,
M. E. (1999). Does religious attendance prolong survival? A six-year followup
study of 3,968 older adults. Journal of Gerontology, 54(A), 370–376.
McFadden, S. H. (2008). The “persistent problems” in the psychology of religion
and aging: A view of the past and a look to the future. Journal of Religion,
Spirituality & Aging, 20(1/2), 77–94. doi:10.1080/15528030801922020
Payne, B. (1989). Religion and the elderly in today’s world. In W. M. Clements (Ed.),
Ministry with the aging: Designs, challenges, foundations (pp. 153–174). New
York, NY: Haworth