Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 16 April |
Saint of the Day: St. Bernadette Soubirous
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Pew study finds U.S. religious life inching back to normal


Dziurek | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 03/29/21

Researchers suggest that vaccinations will bring church attendance back to normal.

The churches won’t be packed this Easter, but religious practice is beginning to normalize in America. A survey conducted by Pew Research found that Catholics and Christian communities have seen increased attendance since last summer. The return is marked by a growing confidence that pandemic protocols will prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to Pew, only 5% of Catholic churches are open for Mass, which is up from 3% last July. The report, “Life in U.S. Religious Congregations Slowly Edges Back Toward Normal,” noted that 36% of Catholics said they would like to attend Easter Mass. While this shows a promising trend, it is still far below the 58% who said they would have attended on a normal year. In-person Mass attendance has risen slightly, from 32% to 38%, since the summer.

Cautious Catholics

Catholics were found to be the most cautious of any Christian denomination. Nearly 70% said they support pandemic precautions, such as mask wearing and social distancing, at Mass. A further 6-in-10 said they believe that Mass attendance should be limited to prevent spreading COVID-19.

The poll also found that Catholics feel safe in church, as 76% of surveyed Catholics said they feel confident that they could safely attend church without contracting COVID-19. This figure has risen from 64% in 2020.

While the survey found that many Christians are eager to return to in-person services, it also shows that people are getting tired of watching religious services online. Across the board, members of Christian denominations reported lower virtual Mass attendance than in 2020. The largest differential was seen in Catholics, who dropped from 63% to 51% since last year. Catholics were, however, much slower to begin virtual Masses than their Protestant counterparts.

While the numbers are still low, they represent a promising trend toward increased church attendance. According to Angelus News, Senior Pew Researcher Greg Smith told CNA that attendance is expected to improve as more people get vaccinated. He said:

“You would expect the congregational situation for Catholics and other Christians to get better” with the rollout of vaccines, he added. “By the time we started rolling out these questions in March, it was a much improved situation.”

Read the full report at Pew.


Read more:
Pew report finds millennials slowest generation to start families

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
St. Faustina’s coffee cup and lessons for Divine Mercy Sund...
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Philip Kosloski
Catholic prayers for strength
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.