As government regulations from the COVID-19 pandemic have begun to wane, houses of worship across the country are lifting their rules and returning to normal practices.
Despite the return to normal, though, a new survey from the Pew Research Center found the number of people attending worship services in-person has not changed since last fall, following a stretch of growth from July 2020 to September 2021.
Forty-three percent of survey participants said their congregations have returned to normal operating procedures, an increase of 14% in the last six months. In March 2021, just 31% said their churches were operating normally.
Interestingly, when split along party lines, the difference in behavior becomes very clear.
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Nearly twice as many Republicans (58%) as Democrats (27%) say their churches or houses of worship are operating they way they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A larger plurality, 47%, said their churches are open but with some lingering restrictions, like requiring physical distancing and face masks. A mere 5% said their places of worship are still shuttered.
For context, in July 2020, just 13% of American adults told Pew they had attended religious services in the previous month. In the new survey, roughly 27% of adults say they attended a religious service in-person during the previous month. Twenty-six percent and 17% said the same in September and March 2021, respectively.
The number of Americans who live-streamed religious services online or watched televangelists fell from 36% in July to 28% in September 2021. Now, that number is 30%.
Those who attend church services regularly are more likely to attend in-person services. About one-third of American adults (32%) say they typically attend in-person services once or twice a month. Of that group, a majority (67%) said they’ve attended an in-person service in the last four weeks, while 57% said they watched services online in the same period of time.
You can read more about the study here.
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