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Coronavirus religious bump: More Americans praying


P Deliss | GoDong

John Burger - published on 04/01/20

Pew Research Center finds that large majorities have taken to prayer to end pandemic.

More than half of adults in the United States — 55% — say they have prayed for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Pew said that large majorities of Americans who pray daily (86%) and of U.S. Christians (73%) have taken to prayer during the outbreak. So have some who say they seldom or never pray and people who say they do not belong to any religion (15% and 24%, respectively).

Among U.S. adults who said in an earlier survey they attend religious services at least once or twice a month, most (59%) now say they have scaled back their attendance because of the pandemic. Most houses of worship have canceled services in the U.S., responding to public officials urging that social distancing measures be implemented.

“But this does not mean [religious people] have disengaged from collective worship entirely,” Pew pointed out. “A similar share (57%) reports having watched religious services online or on TV instead of attending in person. Together, four-in-ten regular worshippers appear to have replaced in-person attendance with virtual worship (saying that they have been attending less often but watching online instead).”

Pew surveyed  11,537 U.S. adults between March 19-24. It also found that nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their life has changed at least a little as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, including 44% who say their life has changed in a major way. The center said:

About nine-in-ten U.S. adults (91%) say that, given the current situation, they would feel uncomfortable attending a crowded party. Roughly three-quarters (77%) would not want to eat out at a restaurant. In the midst of a presidential election year, about two-thirds (66%) say they wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a polling place to vote. And smaller but still substantial shares express discomfort even with going to the grocery store (42%) or visiting with a close friend or family member in their home (38%).

Pew found that four-in-ten working-age adults ages 18 to 64 report having worked from home because of coronavirus concerns. That figure rises to a majority among working-age adults with college degrees and upper-income earners.

Regarding American religious attitudes in the time of pandemic, Pew found that evangelical Protestants are among the most likely to say they have prayed for an end to the virus (82% say they’ve done so). A similar share of adherents of the historically black Protestant tradition (79%) say they have done the same. Two-thirds of Catholics (68%) and mainline Protestants (65%) also say they have prayed for an end to the outbreak.

Even “nones” — the much talked-about cohort who say they follow “no religion in particular — have admitted to resorting to prayer, with 36% saying they have prayed about the virus. A Pew summary of the survey continued:

Fully 86% of people who pray every day say they have prayed specifically about the virus, as have two-thirds of those who say they pray on a weekly basis. Half of those who say they pray a few times a month report having prayed about the coronavirus, as have 15% of those who generally seldom or never pray.

“More women than men say they have prayed for an end to the spread of the disease, and more black respondents than white and Hispanic respondents say the same,” the center said. “Older people are more likely than younger adults to say they have prayed for an end to the virus, and more Republicans than Democrats have prayed about the outbreak. These patterns are consistent with overall differences in the religiousness of these groups.”

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