Churchgoers who attend a house of worship at least weekly are more likely than non-churchgoers to rate their mental or emotional health as "excellent," according to a new Gallup survey that found that religion had a positive impact during the pandemic.
The poll found that weekly churchgoers finished at the top among 14 subgroups on mental and emotional health, with 44 percent of weekly churchgoers rating their own mental or emotional wellbeing as "excellent." Those who attend church nearly weekly or monthly (38 percent) or seldom or never attend at all (29 percent) were less likely to rate their mental and emotional health as excellent.
"Americans who attend religious services weekly are notably more emotionally resilient than those who are less religious," Gallup's Megan Brenan wrote in an analysis.
Overall, though, the mental and emotional health of Americans remains at a 21-year low, driven by a COVID-19 pandemic that led to widespread lockdowns and job loss. Only 34 percent of Americans – the same number as last year – rate their mental and emotional health as excellent. In 2019, 43 percent of Americans rated their mental and emotional health as excellent.
"Before 2020, this measure of Americans' emotional wellbeing consistently reached 42 percent or higher, averaging 45 percent from 2001 to 2019," Brenan wrote.
The findings, she wrote, suggest that the "public continues to grapple with the emotional effects of the pandemic 20 months after it first began in the U.S."
Weekly churchgoers saw a slight decrease from the 46 percent in 2020 who rated their mental and emotional health as "excellent." Still, the 44 percent of weekly churchgoers ranked higher than every subgroup, including Americans who make more than $100,000 (41 percent). The 44 percent also ranked higher than Republicans (42 percent), Democrats (28 percent) and Independents (33 percent).
The poll was conducted in November among 815 adults.
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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.