A growing share of Americans are ready to resume their pre-pandemic religious routines, but that doesn’t mean Passover, Easter and other upcoming holidays will be celebrated in the usual way, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.
Although more than three-quarters of U.S. adults who regularly attended religious services before the COVID-19 crisis feel confident they could safely go to church right now, only 42% reported they had actually done so in the past month, Pew found.
That second figure’s risen only 9% in the past nine months.
“As coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline and vaccination rates rise … life in religious congregations is showing signs of slowly returning to normal,” researchers wrote. “Still, the situation in U.S. congregations remains far from ordinary.”
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%.
Here are a few other key takeaways:
Evangelical Christians are feeling more confident about attending in-person worship than other people of faith.
- The study showed that evangelicals are both more likely to feel safe going to church right now and more likely to have actually attended an in-person service in the past month than members of other faith groups.
- Their confidence likely stems, at least in part, from their political beliefs. Pew found that Republicans are more ready than Democrats for pandemic-related restrictions to be lifted, and a large majority of evangelical Christians identify as members of the GOP.
Race makes a difference.
- Although the COVID-19 pandemic has left almost no part of America untouched, data on hospitalizations and deaths shows that it has had a particularly devastating impact on communities of color. This may be why Black Christians are more worried about resuming in-person religious activities than white Christians, according to Pew.
- 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.
Few churches will be full at Easter.
- As the results for Black Christians imply, most American believers plan to hold Easter services at their house this year. Overall, just 27% of U.S. adults will mark the day with a trip to church.
- Some faith leaders will be perfectly happy with that data point, according to the survey. Only 12% of respondents who regularly attended church before the pandemic started said their house of worship is currently operating as if nothing is wrong.