Oh, Shankar Vedantam. I’m not sure specifically what it is about this guy, but I love his stories on NPR.
Yesterday’s topic was a study which found a disparity between the number of Americans who say they go to church (79%) and the number who actually do (24%).
PHILIP BRENNER: … The respondent hears the question how often do you attend and interprets the question to be: Are you the sort of person who attends?
INSKEEP: What you’re really finding out here is I think I’m the sort of person who should attend church and I don’t want to admit otherwise, so I might tell you I go, whether I do or not.
VEDANTAM: Exactly. So the question is about your behavior. What is it you’re doing? The answer might be about people’s identity. Am I the kind of person who attends church?
The story does not try to encompass much of the why, which is wise. The question of why Americans feel they need to state they go to church regularly requires a great deal of analysis.
The Waking Cassandra content addresses this issue in part through its various forms. Why do American’s say they go to church? Because we have a long history of abusing people who don’t, or who attend the wrong ones.