Declining Black Church Attendance Weakens Key Democratic Asset

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Jun 23, 2024 - 11:15 PM

Where black voters are concerned, the bad news for Democrats keeps piling higher. First came a steady stream of polls showing Biden's support among the Democrat cornerstone constituency keeps plummeting from the virtual monopoly he enjoyed in 2020. Now Democratic strategists are facing the reality that, thanks to falling attendance, the political potency of black churches is also tumbling. 

An overwhelming 92% of black voters backed Biden in 2020. In one of the largest and most sudden demographic-political shifts you'll witness in your lifetime, a recent New York Times/Siena poll found that only 42% of blacks in six key battleground states plan to vote for Biden in November. While he'll be splitting the spoils with independent Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Trump is poised to post the strongest Republican presidential-candidate performance among blacks since at least 1964

Thin turnout for an April service at Columbia, South Carolina's Zion Baptist Church reflects a national trend (Jessie Wardarski/AP)

The damage to Biden's electoral prospects is being compounded as drooping black church attendance undercuts what has traditionally been one of Democrats' most powerful voter registration and turnout weapons.  

There's an element of poetic justice to this development: Much of the trend can be attributed to Democrat-led Covid-era lockdowns and fearmongering. "Overall church membership has dropped precipitously in the U.S. since the last presidential cycle, as many churchgoers formed new habits during the pandemic and never made their way back to the pews," writes Story Hinckley at the Christian Science Monitor

Black churches have been a de facto, tax-advantaged Democratic Party auxiliary. In addition to coordinating voter registration, they've served as a formidable voter-turnout engine. Under the moniker "Souls to the Polls," blacks churches have helped mobilize their congregations to vote following Sunday worship services.  

The Souls to the Polls movement originated in Florida in the 1990s before becoming a black, nationwide phenomenon (via WGCU)

Those church-based contributions to Democratic political forces are sure to sag mightily in 2024, as black attendance is leading the downward trend that crosses demographic lines. In pre-pandemic 2019, 61% of Black Protestants said they attended church at least monthly. By 2023, it had plummeted to just 46%.  

In the battleground state of Michigan -- which Hillary Clinton lost by just 10,704 votes in 2016 -- the Monitor offers a vivid illustration of the dynamic. In the 1980s, New Grace Missionary Baptist Church in the 88% black Detroit enclave of Highland Park routinely had more than a thousand members show up on a typical Sunday. Attendance has now shriveled to somewhere between 125 and 175 people.

Recently, despite weeks of promoting a "Lift Every Voice and Vote" voter-registration event at the church, fewer than three dozen people showed up. "This place should be full," lamented Highland Park Mayor Glenda McDonald.