We are starting to get new data measuring the possible impact of the coronavirus situation on religious behavior in this country. Gallup’s April 14-28 survey finds 27% of Americans reporting having worshipped virtually within the past seven days. Another 4% claim to have worshipped in person, despite the coronavirus restrictions in place in most states.
The combined total of 31% who have worshipped within the past seven days either virtually or in person is roughly in line with recent, pre-virus trends. This tracks with what I reported in 2001 and 2008 — little lasting change in general worship behavior after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the beginning of the Great Recession. As was the case then, the disruptive virus situation has apparently neither expanded nor diminished Americans’ existing worship propensities.
The unique feature now, of course, is the fact that this pattern of worship behavior has stayed stable even as the way in which worship is carried out has shifted dramatically. While we don’t see a substantial change in the number of Americans who are worshipping, we do find a major shift in how they are going about it.
The 27% of Americans who say they have worshipped virtually is calculated on the base of the entire U.S. adult population. But about 20% of the population has no personal religious identity and would not be highly likely to be worshipping in any situation. Among the population of those with a religious identity, 33% have worshipped virtually.
New data show little evidence of major change in the percentage of Americans worshipping during the virus situation, although most now worship virtually. https://t.co/jbwwFLVEx1
— GallupNews (@GallupNews) May 1, 2020