American churchgoers are more comfortable now than they were last year with attending services during the pandemic, but many still plan on staying home this Easter, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Nearly three-quarters (76 percent) of U.S. adults who regularly attend church services say they are confident they can attend without catching or spreading Covid-19 – a 12-point increase from last July, when 64 percent answered that way. Forty-two percent of regular churchgoers say they attended a service within the past month – an increase from the 33 percent who answered that way last summer.
“As coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline and vaccination rates rise across the United States, life in religious congregations is showing signs of slowly returning to normal,” a Pew analysis of the data said. “... Americans are increasingly confident they can safely go to services at a church, temple, mosque or other house of worship.”
Still, many Christians say they don’t feel comfortable attending in-person services for Easter this year. Although 62 percent of all self-identifying Christians say they normally attend an Easter service, only 39 percent plan to do so this year. Among evangelicals, 52 percent plan to attend an Easter service, compared to the 70 percent of evangelicals who say they normally attend. Among black Protestants, the gap is even wider: 68 percent normally attend Easter services but 31 percent will attend this year.
Among other findings in the survey among regular churchgoers:
- 64 percent say their house of worship is open for in-person services but with restrictions.
- 17 percent say their house of worship is closed for in-person services.
- 12 percent say their house of worship is “open as normal” without any restrictions.
- 15 percent of regular churchgoers say they believe their own congregation should be closed for services, a decrease from 26 percent last July.
The Pew poll of 12,055 U.S. adults was conducted March 1-7 and released this week.
Photo courtesy: Joseph Pearson/Unsplash
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.