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Working Americans and Church

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Despite stereotypes to the contrary, Americans with only a high school diploma are dropping out of church faster than their more-educated counterparts.

In the 1970s, a new study finds, half of white Americans with a high school education attended church at least monthly. Now only 37 percent do. In contrast, 46 percent of highly educated white Americans attend church, only a 5 percent drop from the 1970s.

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In the 1980s, the researchers found, there was little difference in religious participation between high school- and college-educated whites. But by the 2000s, a gap appeared. Today, 46 percent of college-educated whites go to a church, synagogue or equivalent institution at least once a month, compared with 37 percent of high school-educated whites.

Whites without a high school diploma were the least likely to attend church in the 1970s and remain so today. In the 1970s, 38 percent attended church at least monthly. Today, only 23 percent do. (Blacks and Hispanics do not show the same declines.)

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