Although many churches in America have been trying to adapt to the current social media culture, a new poll has found that church-goers largely avoid using Facebook or Twitter for interaction with their place of worship or keeping up with pastors.
Forty-five percent of Americans admitted to using Facebook at least a few times a week, the Public Religion Research Institute reported, but only 11 percent of those who attend church at least a few times a year said they use the website to send updates about their church activities. Another 10 percent said they used their phone to record photos or video of worship services, and only 7 percent shared that they sent or read email during service.
Church podcasts and online sermons have also often been pushed by mainstream pastors, but only 13 percent of respondents to the poll said they had downloaded an application to access such media. Those who said they are following their church leader using Twitter or Facebook were only 5 percent.
Differences in social media habits for believers were noticeable within different denominations, however. One in five of white evangelical Protestant supporters were more enthusiastic about social media, with 19 percent said they used Facebook to make church updates, although that number was much smaller with white mainline Protestants and Catholics, at 6 and 2 percent respectively.
Another noticeable denominational difference is that almost half, or 49 percent, of white evangelical Protestants said their church makes use of TV or multimedia screens during worship services, compared to only 11 percent of Catholics.
Although it comes as no surprise, the poll found that the younger generation is much more likely to use social media and technology for religious purposes.
Thirty-seven percent of users aged 18-34 said they use Facebook a number of times a day, but 6-in-10 seniors aged 65 and up said that they never even used the social networking website. Nine percent of younger Americans said they used Twitter of Facebook to keep up with religious or spiritual leaders, but that number was down to only 1 percent among seniors.
Americans at large, however, remained reluctant to disclose much about their religious beliefs on Facebook. Half said they do not describe their religious affiliation at all in their profile, while 20 percent said they simply put "Christian." Nine percent were more specific and described themselves as "Catholic," 8 percent chose "Protestant," while 4 percent chose "atheist," "agnostic," or nothing in particular.
The survey was conducted from July 25-29, 2012 under the direction of Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), and polled 1,026 U.S. adults.