The arrival of the pandemic caused major disruptions to Easter services at many churches in 2020. Although churchgoers say they now are more comfortable with attending live services, many still plan to stay home on Easter Sunday, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Three-fourths of U.S. adults who regularly attend church services say they are confident they can attend without contracting 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 33 percent last summer. Overall, interest in following Covid news is down across all demographics.
“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.
Just one-third of Black Christians (32%) plan to go to their house of worship on Easter this year, compared to 41% of white Christians and 37% of Hispanic Christians. In a typical year, Blacks are more likely than either of the other two groups to be in church on Easter.
Pew’s new survey was conducted online from March 1-7. More than 12,000 Americans took part and the margin of error for the full sample is 1.5%.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice | Title Graphic: Metro Voice