To read the full report, CLICK HERE.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has transformed virtually every aspect of public life in America, also has touched a very intimate part of Americans’ lives: their religious faith and worship habits.
Some Americans say their religious faith has strengthened as a result of the outbreak, even as the vast majority of U.S. churchgoers report that their congregations have closed regular worship services to the public, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Americans in historically black Protestant churches and those who describe themselves as very religious are particularly likely to say their faith has strengthened.
One-quarter of U.S. adults overall (24%) say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 2% say their faith has become weaker. The majority say their faith hasn’t changed much (47%) or that the question isn’t applicable because they were not religious to begin with (26%).
Opinions on this question vary based on respondents’ religious affiliation and how religious they are. Christians are more likely than other religious groups in this analysis to say their faith has grown stronger as a result of the pandemic, a feeling that is reported by 56% of Protestants in the historically black tradition, as well as by four-in-ten evangelicals (42%) and roughly one-quarter of Catholics (27%) and mainline Protestants (22%).
Jews, on the other hand, are more likely to say their faith hasn’t changed much (69%) or that the question isn’t applicable to them because they are not religious (22%) than they are to say their faith has grown stronger during the outbreak (7%). Among the religiously unaffiliated – those who say their religion is atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – roughly a quarter say their faith hasn’t changed much (26%), while the majority say they were not religious to begin with (65%).
The most religious Americans – those who frequently pray and attend services (at least in typical times), and who rate religion as very important to them – are far more likely than others to say their faith has grown stronger as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. In other words, the self-reported strengthening of religious faith has been most pronounced within a segment of the public that was already quite religious to begin with.
For example, 46% of U.S. adults who said last year that they attend religious services at least once or twice a month say their faith has strengthened, compared with one-quarter (26%) of those who attend services just a few times a year and 11% of those who seldom or never attend. But even among people who are not very religious, very few say their faith has weakened. Rather, most say that their level of faith hasn’t changed much or that the question isn’t applicable to them because they don’t consider themselves to be religious.
There also are differences on this question by race and ethnicity, gender and age. Larger shares of black Americans than whites or Hispanics say their faith has grown stronger as a result of the coronavirus outbreak; women and older adults are more likely to say this than men and younger adults. (To analyze these questions further, visit the Election News Pathways data tool.)
Majorities of church attenders say their congregation has closed its doors to the public and put its services online
It remains to be seen whether the strengthened faith that some Americans are experiencing will translate into greater service attendance, since most houses of worship are closed due to nationwide social distancing recommendations.
To read the full report, CLICK HERE.