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COVID-19 pandemic leads to stronger faith for some Americans



John Burger - published on 05/01/20 - updated on 05/01/20

Pew survey shows a quarter of the population reporting feeling more religious as coronavirus takes toll.

Almost a quarter of U.S. adults (24%) say their religious faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A new Pew Research Center survey found that that trend is most pronounced within a segment of the public that was already quite religious to begin with.

“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,” Pew said.

Although 47% of Americans say their faith hasn’t changed much, only 2% of Americans have felt their faith weakening because of the public health crisis, the survey found. Another quarter (26%) say the question is irrelevant because they weren’t religious in the first place.

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%),” Pew said.

Larger shares of black Americans than whites or Hispanics say their faith has grown stronger as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Pew said. Women and older adults are more likely to say this than men and younger adults.

It remains to be seen whether the strengthened faith that some Americans are reporting will translate into greater attendance at religious services, since most houses of worship are closed due to nationwide social distancing recommendations, Pew noted. But most Americans are able to follow those services through mass media.

Among U.S. adults who report attending religious services at least monthly, 82% say that the place of worship they most often attend is streaming or recording its services so that people can watch them online or on TV. About one-in-eight (12%) say their primary place of worship has not done this, while the remainder say they don’t know (5%).

Most Catholics (79%) also say their churches are making religious services available remotely, Pew said.

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