One-fourth of Americans say their religious faith has grown stronger as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, despite most churches not holding in-person services, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The poll of 10,139 U.S. adults April 20-26 found that 24 percent said their faith has grown stronger, while 47 percent said it hasn’t changed much and 2 percent said it’s grown weaker. Twenty-six percent said the question wasn’t applicable to them.
The growth in faith has occurred “even as the vast majority of U.S. churchgoers” report that “their congregations have closed regular worship services to the public,” Pew noted.
Members of historically black congregations (56 percent) were the most likely to say their faith has grown stronger, followed by evangelicals (42 percent), Catholics (27 percent) and mainline members (22 percent), according to the survey.
But this growth in faith hasn’t been confined to Christians or even regular churchgoers. Eleven percent of Americans who said their religious affiliation is “nothing in particular” said their faith has grown. Likewise, 26 percent of Americans who attend church only a few times a year and 11 percent who seldom or never attend church said their faith has grown during the pandemic.
Among those who attend church weekly or more, nearly half (48 percent) said their faith has grown.
Only about 2 percent among each group listed above said their faith has grown weaker.
“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,” Pew’s Claire Gecewicz wrote in an analysis of the survey.
Meanwhile, 92 percent of self-professing Christians and 94 percent of Catholics said their church has halted in-person gatherings. The numbers mirror those of a recent LifeWay Research survey. Eighty-two percent of Americans who attend religious churches at least monthly said their house of worship either streams their service or releases a recording of it.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.