In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, many news reports claimed that stunned Americans were seeking solace in sanctuary pews and in private rites of faith.
But then the Gallup Poll came out, with its familiar question asking if people had recently attended worship services. The number, which has hovered between 38 percent and the low-40s for a generation or two, had risen to 47 percent -- a marginal increase. By mid-November the Gallup number returned to 42 percent.
That 40-ish percent church-attendance estimate has long been an iconic number in American religion.
Thus, it's significant that a new Deseret News poll asked, "Which, if any, of the following activities do you usually do on a typical (Sabbath)," and only 27 percent of the participants said they regularly attended worship services.
"Something is going on and I think we see that in the 27 percent number," said Allison Pond, national editor for The Deseret News. "There appears to be a kind of consolidating going on among those who are loyal when it comes to practicing their faith. … It appears that more people are losing a kind of appearance of religion, of any connection to what some used to call a Moral Majority. …
"What we are seeing now is that the truly devoted really look different -- as a group -- when compared with other Americans."
The Deseret News poll, conducted by Y2 Analytics and YouGov, is part of its "The Ten Today" project exploring the relevance of the Ten Commandments in modern American life. In this poll the goal was to explore the implications of the familiar, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."