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But the number of people attending church on Easter Sunday in early April will likely be down compared to normal, the results also show.
Three-quarters of U.S. adults who normally attend religious services now say they are “very” or “somewhat” confident they can do so safely, without spreading or catching the coronavirus—up 12 percentage points from July of last year, new polling research finds.
The Pew Research Center findings were designed to gauge how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting the way Americans participate in their religious congregations. The research is based on responses to surveys conducted in July 2020 and March 2021.
Overall, Americans are increasingly confident they can safely go to services at a church, temple, mosque or other houses of worship. The finding comes as more Americans are getting the coronavirus vaccine and as cases are down sharply compared to the fall and winter months.
Public health restrictions on religious services proved to be a major flashpoint during the outbreak, prompting lawsuits, with some challenges making it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Roughly four-in-ten respondents to the most recent survey who typically attend religious services at least once or twice a month said they had done so in person during the past month. That’s up nine points since last summer.
Fewer survey respondents (17%) said this month that their congregation is closed, compared to July 2020 (31%). But most, 64%, said virus-related precautions remain in place during services.
When broken down by race, whites (50%) and hispanics (34%) saw double-digit percentage point increases in those reporting to have attended church in-person this month compared to July 2020. Among Black survey respondents the jump was 6 percentage points, to 25%.
With Easter Sunday just days away, on April 4, the virus still appears to be having a clear effect on religious service attendance. Only about four-in-ten Christians (39%) said they planned to go in person to Easter church services, well below the 62% who say they do so normally.
The Pew Research Center survey was conducted March 1-7, 2021, among 12,055 U.S. adults on the center’s online, nationally representative American Trends Panel. It has a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percentage points. More information on how the findings can be found here.
Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.
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