By Aaron Earls
Women were the first to reach Jesus’ tomb on that first Easter Sunday, and they may be the first to reach the church each Sunday now as well.
Pew Research found a significant gender gap concerning religious beliefs and practice among self-identified Christian men and women in America.
The gap is larger in the United States than in other nations like Canada, the U.K., Germany, and France.
More than 7 in 10 U.S. Christian women (72 percent) say religion is very important to them, compared to 62 percent of Christian men.
A similar gap appears when comparing beliefs about the Bible or certainty about God’s existence.
A full 80 percent of Christian women say they believe in God with absolute certainty and 78 percent say the Bible is the word of God. Both of those numbers drop to 72 percent for Christian men.
Christian women are also more likely to practice their faith with behaviors like praying daily and attending church.
Almost three-quarters of them (74 percent) say they pray at least once daily, while only 60 percent of Christian men say the same.
The gender gap on daily prayer is larger among Catholics (67 percent for women versus 49 percent for men) and mainline Protestants (62 percent versus 44 percent).
With church attendance, the gender gap is shrinking, but still considerable. In the mid-1980s, 38 percent of women attended religious services weekly, while 25 percent of men did so—a 13-point gap.
In 2012, the gap had shrunk to 6 points, but that was due to a larger drop in attendance among women. Twenty-eight percent of women attended at least weekly, while 22 percent of men did the same.
As a whole, outside of Christianity, men are less religious than women.
American men are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated than women. And among the unaffiliated, the men are less likely to ascribe to religious beliefs.
Fewer than 1 in 4 religiously unaffiliated men (23 percent) say they are absolutely certain God exists, compared to about one-third of unaffiliated women.
Roughly one-quarter of unaffiliated women say they pray at least daily, but only 15 percent of unaffiliated men say the same.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.