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Americans more likely than others to have stronger faith amid pandemic


Saengsuriya Kanhajorn | Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 02/01/21

Pew finds that COVID-19 outbreak, lockdowns, economic ills and limited church services have not weakened religion in U.S.

In spite of severe restrictions on attending church services, the religious faith of Americans has grown stronger during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted last summer shows that more Americans than people in other economically developed countries say the COVID-19 outbreak has strengthened their faith and the faith of other Americans.

Among 14 countries surveyed, the U.S. has by far the highest share of respondents who say their faith has strengthened because of the pandemic.

“Nearly three-in-ten Americans (28%) report stronger personal faith because of the pandemic, and the same share think the religious faith of Americans overall has strengthened,” Pew said in its report, released January 27. 

Far smaller shares in other parts of the world say religious faith has been affected by the coronavirus, Pew reports. These findings align with the religiosity of those societies.  

For example, just 10% of British adults report that their own faith is stronger as a result of the pandemic, and 14% think the faith of Britons overall has increased due to COVID-19. But European countries experienced rapid secularization starting in the 19th century, and today, comparatively few people in Italy (25%), the Netherlands (17%) or Sweden (9%) say that religion is very important in their lives, Pew said.

Similarly, East Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea have low rates of religious affiliation and observance, and in the new survey, 5% of people in Japan said religion plays a stronger role in both their own lives and the lives of their fellow citizens in the midst of the pandemic.

While there have been some trends toward secularization in the U.S., including a growing share of the population that does not identify with any religion and a shrinking share of people who say they regularly attend a church or other house of worship, religion continues to play a stronger role in American life than in many other economically developed countries, Pew said. 

The survey was conducted June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, among 14,276 adults in 14 countries. It also found that the pandemic has strengthened family relationships as well.

“In the U.S. and in several other countries, “Pew reported, “younger adults are especially likely to say they feel a stronger bond with immediate family members since the start of the pandemic.”  

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