RACE, RELIGION + SOCIAL JUSTICE

New survey says religion was ‘disrupted’ by pandemic

Jan 12, 2023, 1:01 PM
Light shines through the stained glass windows in St. Joseph Catholic Church in Ogden on Tuesday, J...
Light shines through the stained glass windows in St. Joseph Catholic Church in Ogden on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Many things have shifted in the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and religion is not an exception. A new survey found that religious identity stayed stable but religious attendance experienced a decline.

Dan Cox from the Survey Center on American Life joined Inside Sources to discuss the survey and its findings.

Cox said that the survey asked 9000 Americans about their religious identity and habits pre-pandemic. Those same Americans were asked the questions once again in the spring of 2022.

Religion and identity stayed stable post-pandemic

Cox said that religious identities and affiliations, for the most part, didn’t change.

People who identified as Catholic, evangelical Protestant, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pre-pandemic still identified the same way in 2022.

“That makes a lot of sense, right? Like it was only roughly a two-year period,” Cox said. “We weren’t expecting to see any real significant shifts there.”

Religious attendance

Where the real change happened was in religious attendance, Cox said.

The survey asked participants how often they attended religious services.

“We saw a pretty significant increase in the number of people who never attend.”

According to the survey, pre-pandemic, about 25% of Americans said they didn’t ever attend religious services. But when asked again in 2022, that number jumped to 33%.

Whose habits changes?

“But one of the really interesting things that is happening and something that we’ve tracked is that these national trends aren’t affecting every group or denomination equally,” Cox said.

Those with the weakest attachment to religion are the most likely to drift away. Meaning, people who only attended religious services a few times a year were more likely to stop attending services completely. 

“The three groups that we saw with the biggest declines in attendance over the pandemic were, liberals, people who were never married and young adults — those people aged 18 to 29.”

Cox noted that there is an overlap between those groups.

On the flip side, the survey found that “Conservatives, older Americans, married adults and college-educated Americans reported less of a decline in regular worship attendance.”

The survey also noted that the decline in attendance also varied based on religion. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ, white evangelical Christians and Jews reported little decline compared to white mainline Protestants and white and Hispanic Catholics. Religious attendance also decline for those who were unaffiliated but still attended services pre-pandemic.

What does it all mean?

“What we suggest is happening because of that, is we’re seeing an increase in religious polarization,” Cox said.

There is a decline in people who are moderately religious, according to the study. This means there is both a robust, active religious population as well as a completely inactive population.

The survey concluded that the pandemic “disrupted much of American society, including religious worship.”

Listen to the full segment:

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Race, Religion + Social Justice

Gov. Spencer Cox covered a broad range of issues Thursday night at the State of the State Address. ...
Chandler Holt

Governor Spencer Cox signs transgender bill, releases statement

Gov. Spencer Cox released a statement on the transgender bill, that would ban transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for minors, on Saturday.
1 day ago
Rabbi Avremi Zippel talks to the crowd during halftime of a Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers game at Viv...
Mark Jones

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Area rabbi shares his thoughts

Rabbi Avremi Zippel joined Inside Sources Friday to discuss International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
2 days ago
The Utah House has advanced the bill that bans transgender-related surgeries on minors and pauses t...
Lindsay Aerts

Utah Senate passes transgender-related surgery ban for minors

The Utah House has advanced the bill that bans transgender-related surgeries on minors and pauses the treatment of hormone blockers.
3 days ago
Pope Francis criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as "unjust," saying God loves all his c...
NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press

The AP Interview: Pope Francis says homosexuality not a crime

Pope Francis' comments are the first by a pope about laws criminalizing homosexuality. But they are consistent with his approach to the LGBTQ community.
4 days ago
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday plans to r...
Mark Jones

Church announces Anchorage Alaska Temple reconstruction

Reconstruction of the Anchorage Alaska Temple was announced Monday by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
6 days ago
2021 Sundance Film Festival...
Heather Kelly

The Sundance Film Festival isn’t just about movies

The Sundance Film Festival has many more events than films and the chance to see celebrities 'up close and personal' and most of them are free.  
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
New survey says religion was ‘disrupted’ by pandemic