Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Professor Skip Burzumato

Degree Award Date

Winter 12-2023


religion, community, sociology, privatization, secularization, community engagement


Civic and Community Engagement | Sociology of Religion


This paper aims to investigate the debate over whether public religion is undergoing a decline and, if so, what consequences this has on local community engagement. Local religious congregations have traditionally played a crucial role in their communities, offering essential facilities, programs, and a sense of solidarity that helps individuals connect with personal and communal values. However, evidence suggests a declining presence of public religion, evident through decreasing attendance at religious services, rising rates of religious non-affiliation, and financial strains on local religious congregations. This has led to debates surrounding whether religion is genuinely in decline or undergoing some level of privatization. This paper comprehensively explores whether public religion is in decline or evolving toward privatization. Furthermore, it will delve into the implications of these changing dynamics on local communities. It will provide a theoretical analysis of existing research literature on religious participation and commitment in the United States, focusing on the state and strength of religious engagement. This paper will conclude by presenting an assessment of the conditions necessary for religious institutions to remain vibrant parts of their local communities.

Recommended Citation

Burdette, Grace. "Is Religion in Decline and, if so, What is the Impact on Local Communities?” Senior Honors Projects, Bridgewater College, 2023.