COVID and Religion

Explainer

Did the COVID-19 pandemic make people more or less religious?

By Jimmie Johnson

A recent study by the Pew Research Center asked if the COVID-19 pandemic made individuals more or less religious. So how does America compare to other countries?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: AS THE COVID CRISIS WANES, BELIEVERS OF ALL DIFFERENT RELIGIONS ARE RETURNING TO THEIR PLACES OF WORSHIP.

THIS HAD ME THINKING, DID COVID-19 PUSH PEOPLE CLOSER OR FURTHER FROM THEIR FAITH?

AT THE HEIGHT OF THE PANDEMIC, VERY FEW PEOPLE STEPPED FOOT INSIDE A TRADITIONAL SERVICE.

MOST STATES issued RESTRICTIONS ON INDOOR GATHERINGS.

AS A RESULT, ZOOMING WITH GOD BECAME A STAPLE FOR PASTOR HENRY BALLARD’S CHURCH JUST OUTSIDE OF NEW ORLEANS.

PASTOR HENRY BALLARD JR: I made a decision to go to online service after watching the science and hearing the news.

JIMMIE: ALLISON JOSEPHS SAYS HER COMMUNITY OF ORTHODOX JEWS IN NEW JERSEY tOOK TO THE FRESH AIR.

ALLISON JOSEPHS: First our prayer services moved to outdoors, social distanced, under canopies with masks.

JIMMIE: EVEN AS STATES LOOSENED RESTRICTIONS, MOST PEWS REMAINED EMPTY.

IN FEBRUARY OF LAST YEAR, THE CDC CONTINUED TO URGE COMMUNITIES OF FAITH TO AVOID ATTENDING EVENTS AND GATHERINGS.

SO, DID LESS TIME IN CHURCH MAKE PEOPLE LESS RELIGIOUS?

DID COVID-RELATED ILLNESS, DEATH, AND JOB LOSS BRING PEOPLE CLOSER TO GOD

OR PUSH THEM FURTHER AWAY?

THE PEW RESEARCH CENTER, A NONPARTISAN THINK TANK SAYS IT’S CLOSER.

DURING COVID, 28-PERCENT OF AMERICANS SAID THEIR FAITH INCREASED.

WHILE A MERE FOUR PERCENT SAY THEIR FAITH DECREASED.

SIXTY-EIGHT PERCENT REPORT IT DIDN’T IMPACT THEM AT ALL.

RESULTS are CONSISTENT WITH THESE TWO FAITH LEADERS.

ALLISON JOSEPHS: The Jewish community’s faith would be stronger now overall.

PASTOR HENRY BALLARD JR: They’ve come to the realization that their faith is not just based upon a location, a building, or going to a certain place. I think it was strengthened because now they had to get real with themselves about what they truly believe.

JIMMIE: ANOTHER INTERESTING PART OF THE PEW STUDY FOUND.

COMPARED TO OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES, AMERICA SHOWED THE LARGEST PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE CLAIMING THEIR FAITH INCREASED.

THAT INCLUDES SPAIN, ITALY, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, AND THE UK.

SO, WHAT NOW? AS PLACES OF WORSHIP BEGIN TO FULLY REOPEN, WILL RELIGION RETURN TO THE WAY IT WAS PRE-COVID?

PASTOR HENRY BALLARD JR: I don’t believe worship will be the same again.

ALLISON JOSEPHS: I think there’s nobody that could go through this experience of Covid without being changed in some way.

JIMMIE: NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO WEIGH IN. HOW HAS COVID CHANGED YOUR FAITH? LET ME KNOW.

 

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