A new Pew Research Center survey shows that religious affiliation in the United States has declined during the current pandemic.
Sixty-three percent of Americans now identify as Christians, a drop from 65% in 2019, and 78% from 2007. In the meantime, 29% Americans identify as having no religion. That’s an increase from 26% in 2019 or 16% when Pew first began to track religious identity.
Many places of worship closed during the pandemic—some voluntarily, others as a result of state and local social-distancing rules—and in-person church attendance is roughly 30% to 50% lower than it was before the pandemic, estimates Barna Group, a research firm that studies faith in the U.S. Millions of Americans moved to worshiping online, and questions linger about how many will come back in person.
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A previous Pew survey, in January, found that a third of Americans said their faith had grown stronger during the pandemic—the highest share of any developed country. According to the Pew new survey, overall religious engagement declined at about the same pace as it was before the pandemic.
Greg Smith (associate director of Pew research) said that “a substantial minority” of respondents believe the outbreak has strengthened their faith. He was also the author of the survey on religious affiliation. However, those people who claim their faith is strengthened are mainly religious individuals. There’s not a lot of evidence of people who were not that religious before March 2020 [and]He said that it was now so.
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The 29% that say they do not believe in God include 4% who are atheists, and 5% who identify as agnostics. Both those numbers have not changed since 2017. In 2017, 16% of Americans identified as “nothing special” and this year, 20%. Although some people who are “nothing particular” may be religious, Smith stated that they are less likely than those who identify with a religion to attend worship services or pray.
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