TIME faith

Americans Frequently Lie About Church Attendance, Study Says

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Americans are prone to exaggerate how often they sit in the pews on Sundays, a new study shows, depending on the setting in which they’re asked. When asked on the phone, survey respondents were more likely to exaggerate than when they were asked online

A new study suggests Americans are prone to fibbing when asked how regularly they go to church.

A report by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that Americans inflate reports of their church attendance depending on the setting in which they’re asked. When asked on the phone, survey respondents were more likely to exaggerate their Sunday diligence than when they were asked online.

In a telephone survey, 36 percent of Americans report attending religious services weekly or more, compared to 31 percent on the online survey.

The phone and online surveys of American adults were conducted in 2013, with 2,002 people interviewed by cell and landline and a demographically comparable group of 2,317 answering questions online.

White mainline Protestants have the hardest time admitting they “seldom or never” attend church, with 28 percent saying they rarely go on the telephone, but 45 percent admitting to playing hooky in an online questionnaire.

Black Protestants seem to inflate church attendance the most, with 54 percent claiming they go weekly when asked on the phone, and just 40 percent saying they attend weekly in an online survey.

Isn’t there some commandment about this? Well, maybe you have to go to Church to find out.

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