By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
For five years in a row, since 2013, the number of Filipinos who attend religious services weekly has been declining, based on a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
In the nationwide survey conducted last Dec. 8-16, 2017 with 1,200 respondents, “only minorities of Filipino adults attend religious services weekly,” ranging from 46 to 47 percent in annual averages.
This used to be at 66 percent annual average when SWS first surveyed it in 1991.
It fell to 58 percent in 1994 and mostly remained at over half of adults up to 2012, except in 2008 when it fell to a minority 47 percent.
SWS said 46 percent of Filipinos attend religious services weekly, 34 percent monthly, and 19 percent occasionally.
The remaining 0.4 percent said they never attend religious services.
SWS pointed out that 46 percent average weekly church attendance in 2017 is a record-low similar to the 46 percent average in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
It surpassed the previous record-low of 47 percent annual average in 2008 and 2016.
Meanwhile, the annual average proportion of those who attend religious services monthly has been steady at 35 percent from 2014 to 2017.
It started at a fifth of adult Filipinos in 1991 and 1994 (21 percent each) and has since risen to roughly one-third nationwide except in 1996 (26 percent), and 1998 (22 percent).
The annual average proportion of those who attend religious services occasionally has ranged from 10 to 20 percent since 1991, falling to single-digit levels only in 1994 and 1998.
The annual average proportion of those who never attend religious services occasionally has been at marginal levels, reaching only as high as 3 percent in 1994.
SWS also found that 75 percent of Filipinos believe that religion is very important and nine percent somewhat important.
The remaining three percent said it is not very important, and 13 percent not at all important.
The opinion that religion is very important has been dominant in all nine SWS surveys since December 2015, reaching as high as 82 percent in December 2016 and 78 percent in April 2016, March 2017, and June 2017.
The latest figure of 75 percent in December 2017 is seven points below 82 percent in December 2016, but only one point above the first recorded figure of 74 percent in December 2015.