Pollster Social Weather Stations’ February survey has found that 9.2 percent, or nearly one out of every 10 Catholics who are registered voters, “sometimes think of leaving the Church, 2.5 percent said they “strongly agree” and 6.7 percent “somewhat agree” with the statement, “Sometimes I think that I might leave the Catholic Church.”
This was the first time SWS fielded such a question and thus it did not have earlier data that would establish if there was a trend.
However, the poll did reveal that thoughts of leaving the Catholic Church are more common among Catholics “who do not consider themselves as very religious, who attend Church monthly at most, and whose church attendance is less now than five years ago.”
In terms of church attendance, Catholics who sometimes think of leaving the Church included:
– 5.4 percent among weekly churchgoers
– 7.1 percent among those who attend several times a month
– 12.9 percent among those who attend once a month
– 14.5 percent among those who attend several times a year
– 18.0 percent among those who attend once a year at most.
The survey covered not only Catholics but other religions. Of the 1,200 voters surveyed, 81 percent were Catholics, 6 percent Protestants, 3 percent Iglesia ni Cristo, and 3 percent of other Christian denominations.
And the “slightly downward” trend of religious-service attendance applied to Catholics, Iglesia ni Cristo members and Muslims as well.
The exceptions are the Protestants and other Christians among whom more attend “more frequently” than those who do “less frequently.”
The SWS survey showed 43 percent of respondents attend church/masjid at least once a week, while 22 percent attend church/masjid two or three times a month.
Another 21 percent attend once a month, nine percent attend two to 11 times a year and 5 percent attend once a year at most.
“Only 37 percent of Catholics attend church weekly. In comparison, there are nearly twice as many of other Christians who are weekly churchgoers: 64 percent among Protestants, 70 percent among Iglesia ni Cristos and 62 percent among other Christians,” it said.
It added 75 percent of Muslims attend masjid at least weekly.
SWS said that in 70 SWS surveys of church attendance from 1991 to 2013, weekly attendance was always lower among Catholics in general.
The SWS said the highest recorded weekly church attendance among Filipinos was 66 percent in July 1991, the first time SWS asked the question.
It added the highest recorded weekly church attendance among Catholics was 64 percent, also in July 1991.
Among all Filipinos, the 43 percent weekly church attendance in February 2013 matches the 43-percent low first recorded in March 2008.
The SWS added the latest 37 percent weekly church attendance of Catholics in February 2013 matches the all-time low 37 percent weekly church attendance of Catholics in March 2008.
It added the decline in Catholics’ weekly church attendance from 1991 to 2013 is highly significant, statistically speaking.
Five year trend
The survey also revealed that 54 percent of Catholics said their frequency of church attendance is the same now as it was five years ago, in 2008.
But 18 percent said they attend church more frequently in 2013 than in 2008, while 28 percent said they attend less frequently in 2013 than five years ago, for a net difference of -9.
Among Protestants, 26 percent attend church more frequently now, while 14 percent said they do so less frequently now, for a net difference of +12.
Among Iglesia ni Cristos, 14 percent attend church more frequently now, while 36 percent attend less frequently now, for a net difference of -22.
Among other Christians, 26 percent attend church more frequently now and 25 percent attend less frequently now, for a net difference of +1.
Among Muslims, 14 percent attend masjid more frequently now, and 40 percent attend less frequently now, for a net difference of -26.
From 1991 to 2013, SWS said the average annual percentage of adults identifying themselves as Catholics in the SWS surveys varied between a high of 88 percent in 1997 and a low of 80 percent in 2007.
It said this indicates “a very slight, but statistically significant, downward trend in the 22-year period.”
SWS said that in 1991 and 1994, 85 percent of adults reported themselves as Catholics, and 87 percent in 1996 and 88 percent in 1997.
But this declined to 83 percent in 1998, went up to 85 percent in 1999 and 2000, 82 percent in 2001, and 84 percent in 2002.
“From 2003 to the present it has fluctuated narrowly between 83 percent and 80 percent. The latest proportion of 81 percent in 2013 is statistically less than the initial 85 percent of 1991,” SWS said.
In the survey, only 29 percent of Catholics consider themselves very religious, compared to 50 percent among Protestants, 43 percent among Iglesia ni Cristo and 41 percent among those from other Christian denominations.
Among Muslims, 38 percent consider themselves very religious.
“Compared with other religious groups, Catholics are the least religious,” the SWS said.
The February 2013 Pre-Election Survey was conducted from February 15 to 17, using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 registered voters divided into random samples of 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages and ±6% for area percentages applied to the survey.