Study: Religious attendance dips slightly after pandemic

by | Mar 28, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, religious leaders worried that lockdowns and the move to online services would accelerate already declining church attendance and usher in what some called a “religion recession.”A new study from Pew Research suggests that’s probably overstated.
The study found that the share of U.S. adults who generally say they attend religious services at least once a month dropped from 33% in 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak, to 30% in 2022.
That may be more consistent with a longer-term trend of gradual religious decline than a dramatic change in people’s churchgoing habits.
Or, the researchers speculated, it may also be due to a short-term impact of the pandemic on Black Protestants, who saw the biggest decline in attendance of all religious groups surveyed. The share of Black Protestants who say they generally attend religious services at least once a month was 15 points lower between 2022 and 2019 (46% vs. 61% then).
The study’s last survey, in November, surveyed 11,377 U.S. adults. Its margin of error was plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.
Beginning in July 2020, Pew began asking U.S. adults whether they attended religious services in person in the prior month and, separately, whether they took part in services virtually.
“Roughly four-in-ten Americans have participated in religious services, either virtually or in person, throughout most of the pandemic” G …

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