Nineteen Sixty-four is a research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University edited by Mark M. Gray. CARA is a non-profit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: to increase the Catholic Church's self understanding; to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers; and to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism. Follow CARA on Twitter at: caracatholic.


Catholic Summer

It is almost Memorial Day, that special time when Americans pause to honor soldiers who died in military service. It is also traditionally the long weekend that represents an unofficial start of the summer. Many will visit newly opened community pools and spark up the barbecue for the first time of the year.

I often tell my "Introduction to the Social Sciences" students you can study virtually anything! Even Memorial Day. Need to know how many Catholics have served in the military or reserves (formerly or on current active duty)? Simple. There’s a poll for that. More than 8.5 million self-identified Catholics in the United States or currently serving overseas report that they are or were in the military or reserves at some point in their life. Overall, 47% of self-identified Catholics have either served themselves or have a close family member or other relative who has served in the military.

On to something a bit more lighthearted... What do Catholics think about summer? They love it. Like those of other faiths, Catholics are most likely to pick (about half or more) summer as the season where most of their best memories reside. Only Evangelical Protestants stand out from the crowd with disproportionate numbers choosing spring and fall. Catholics are remarkable in that fewer than one in ten cite autumn as a favorite (i.e., my personal choice… What’s not to like about football, falling leaves, All Hallows Eve, new school supplies, and October Mass attendance headcounts?).

So what’s on the menu this weekend? Beef. If you are dining with Catholics expect steaks, hamburgers, or beef ribs. This is another area where Catholics stand out among the faith crowd. No other group loves beef this much with the Nones—those without a religious affiliation—shunning it the most at a paltry 30% preference rate. If you are planning on dining with Evangelicals this weekend expect to eat chicken (…their most preferred pick at 37%).

What will Catholics do after resting the required one hour after lunch or supper to prevent cramping? They’ll likely swim (…nearly four in ten). One in four will walk and nearly one in five will garden. Biking and reading may consume some of the time. Expect to see Mainline Protestants and Nones at the pool as they are even more enthusiastic about swimming (44% and 47%, respectively). Nones may be the most likely to wear inappropriate swimwear (I don’t have any polling data for this… it’s just a hypothesis). Watch out for Evangelicals on the bike paths (12% preference rate). If you need to borrow some gardening supplies talk to those affiliated with a non-Christian faith (22% prefer gardening). 

In the same survey, a majority of people who say they go to the beach in each faith group report that they "always" wear sunscreen (53% of Catholics). The only exception here is with those affiliated with a non-Christian faith. Only 47% of this group indicates consistent sunscreen use. So on your way back from swimming at the beach or a pool if you happen to run into a neighbor of a non-Christian faith that is out gardening offer them some sunscreen. Everyone hates skin cancer.

We should see nearly four in ten Catholics attending Mass on Pentecost Sunday. With many traveling this weekend they may need MassTimes to find a parish. So expect to see some out-of-towners in the pews if you live in a resort area.

Have a good weekend!

Above photo courtesy of Gepat at Flickr Creative Commons.  

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