The major branches of Christianity in the U.S. have sharply different traditions, with sermons at historically black Protestant churches lasting — on average - nearly four times as long as Roman Catholic sermons.
That’s among the findings of an analysis by the Pew Research Center — billed as the first of its kind — of 49,719 sermons delivered in April and May that were shared online by 6,431 churches. Pew described its research as “the most exhaustive attempt to date to catalogue and analyze American religious sermons.”
According to Pew, the median length of the sermons was 37 minutes. Catholic sermons were the shortest, at a median of just 14 minutes, compared with 25 minutes for sermons in mainline Protestant congregations and 39 minutes in evangelical Protestant congregations. Historically black Protestant churches had by far the longest sermons, at a median of 54 minutes.
Pew said sermons at the black churches lasted longer than mainline Protestant sermons even though, on average, they had roughly the same number of words. A possible explanation, Pew said, is that the preachers at black churches allow more time during their sermons for musical interludes, responses from worshippers in the pews and dramatic pauses in their oratory.