South Carolina Cultural Indicators 2019: Culture

Church Attendance

Church Attendance, by Frequency in South Carolina and the United States

Since 2007, weekly attendance at church has dropped by 13% statewide and 8% nationally. In South Carolina, it has largely been replaced by fewer regular visits to church (14.8% increase), with some attending rarely or never (10.5% increase).[143] 

Nationally, weekly church attendance rates are a full 11 percentage points below those of South Carolina, while the percentage of Americans rarely or never attending church is 9 percentage points higher.[144]



[143] Pew Research Center, Religion & Public Life, “Adults in South Carolina,” in Religious Landscape Study. Available at Access verified Nov. 8, 2018.

[144] Ibid.

Belief in God

Belief in God in the United States Since 2007

The gradual decline in church attendance may in part be related to a parallel erosion in belief in God. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of South Carolinians who noted that they were “very certain” that there was a God fell 12 percentage points, from 86% to 74%. Nationally, the trend was similar but not as pronounced, with a drop of 8 percentage points.[145] 

Instead of an outright rejection of a belief in God, the change for South Carolina appears to be in degree of certainty. Between 2007 and 2014, residents who were “fairly certain” in their belief in God doubled from 8% to 16%. A similar trend was found nationally—but not to the same extent as South Carolina—with the proportion of Americans being “fairly certain” rising from 17% to 20%.[146] 

While small, the number of South Carolinians and Americans who do not believe in God is on the rise. Since 2007, the percentage of South Carolinians who do not believe in God has risen 67%, from 3% to 5%. Nationally, 1 in 11 Americans do not believe in God (9%).[147] 



[145] Ibid.

[146] Ibid.

[147] Ibid.


Volunteer Rates in South Carolina and the United States

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) tracks Americans’ volunteer work in civic organizations, political groups, neighborhood associations, churches and other religious institutions, nonprofits and other established associations. Informal service, such as helping neighbors with small projects, is also tracked.[148]

According to the CNCS, 24.9% of Americans (62.6 million) volunteered 7.9 billion hours of service in 2015, with an estimated worth of $184 billion.[149] South Carolina’s volunteer rate was slightly less than the national average (22.7%), with 120.7 million hours of service from 903,000 volunteers and an estimated worth of $3.1 billion.[150]

In 2015, the most common ways to volunteer in South Carolina were collecting, preparing, distributing, and serving food (26.6%), fundraising or selling items to raise money (25.4%), tutoring or teaching (17.6%), and engaging in general labor (17%).[151]



[148] Corporation for National & Community Service, “Glossary.” Available at Access verified Nov. 8, 2018. 

[149] Corporation for National & Community Service, “National Profile.” In Volunteering and Civic Life in America. Available at Access verified Nov. 8, 2018.

[150] Corporation for National & Community Service, “South Carolina.” Available at Access verified Nov. 8, 2018.

[151] Ibid.


Scores for Charitable Giving, Volunteering and Service by State in 2017

In 2017, the website WalletHub ranked all 50 states by both volunteering and service hours, and their charitable giving.  Using 14 different metrics of philanthropy—including volunteer rate and hours per capita, share of income donated, sheltered homeless, and public charities per capita—South Carolina ranked 19th nationally in its overall charity, with a volunteering and service rank of 32nd and a charitable giving rank of 14th. (To aid interpretation, the graph shows the reverse of all ranked scores; e.g., a rank of 10th best would be a bar height of (50 – 10) = 40, whereas a ranking of 19 would be represented by a bar 31 in height.)[152]



[152] Richie Bernardo, “2017’s Most Charitable States.” WalletHub, Nov. 28, 2017. Available at Access verified Nov. 8, 2018.