By Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola
Forty-eight percent or almost half of adult Filipinos are keen in attending religious services weekly, according to the first quarter Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey on church attendance this year.
The SWS poll, conducted last March 25-28 among 1,200 adults and released in time for the Holy Week, however, showed that less Catholics are committed to attend religious services weekly.
Of the 48 percent who said they regularly attend church services, trailing behind are Catholics at only 41 percent.
SWS said the largest commitment in attending weekly services are from the members of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) at 90 percent, followed by Muslims at 81 percent, and other Christians at 71 percent.
The seldom church attendance by Catholics was further proven by 39 percent of them who admit to have only attended church masses once a month, leading the 34 percent of Filipinos who attend religious services monthly. Other Christians followed with 18 percent, Muslims with nine percent, and members of the INC with four percent.
Of the 17 percent who attend religious services occasionally, Catholics lead at 20 percent, followed by Muslims and other Christians at 10 percent, and INC at six percent
SWS said those who never attend religious services ranged from 0.4 percent to one percent across religions.
Less Catholics attend mass
In the 74 surveys conducted by the SWS on church attendance from 1991 to 2017, weekly attendance to religious services has always been lower among Catholics.
The highest recorded average weekly church attendance among adult Catholic Filipinos was 64 percent in 1991, when regular attendance was also highest at 66 percent.
Likewise, the latest 41-percent weekly church attendance of Catholics this year was only two points above their record-low 39 percent weekly church attendance bared in 2014 and 2015.
“The 23-point decline in Catholics’ weekly church attendance from 1991 to 2017 is highly significant, statistically speaking,” SWS said.
‘Religion is important’
The survey also found a majority of Filipinos, at 85 percent, saying religion is important.
To the question, “How important for you is religion?” 78 percent said it is “very important”, and seven percent answered “rather important.”
About two percent, on the other hand, think religion is “not very important” and 14 percent answered it is “not at all important.”
SWS noted that the opinion that religion is very/rather important has been dominant in all six SWS surveys since December, 2015, reaching as high as 94 percent in June, 2016 and 90 percent in December, 2016.