In what nation are people most likely to say pandemic has bolstered their faith?

(Photo: Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash)

COVID-19 has shut down church gatherings in many countries, but Americans are most likely in developed countries to say that the pandemic has strengthened their religious faith, a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in the summer of 2020 reveals.

Nearly three-in-ten U.S. adults say the outbreak has boosted their faith; about four-in-ten say it has tightened family bonds says the research on Jan. 27.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause deaths and disrupt billions of lives globally, people may turn to religious groups, family, friends, co-workers or other social networks for support, said Pew.

The Pew Research Center survey conducted mid-year in 2020 reveals that more Americans than people in other economically developed countries say the outbreak has bolstered their religious faith and the faith of their compatriots.

Nearly three-in-ten Americans (28 percent) report stronger personal faith due to the pandemic, and the same share think the religious faith of Americans overall has strengthened, according to the survey of 14 economically developed countries.

Far smaller shares in other parts of the world say religious faith has been affected by the coronavirus.

For example, just 10 percent of British adults report that their own faith is stronger as a result of the pandemic, and 14 percent think the faith of Britons overall has increased due to COVID-19.

In Japan, 5 percent of people say religion now plays a stronger role in both their own lives and the lives of their fellow citizens.

Majorities or pluralities in all the countries surveyed do not feel that the pandemic has strengthened their religious faith.

That includes 68 percent of U.S. adults who say their own faith has not changed much and 47 percent who say the faith of their compatriots is about the same.

Some previous studies have found an uptick in religious observance after people experience a calamity.

And a Pew Research Center report published in October 2020 showed that just over a third (35 percent) of Americans say the pandemic carries one or more lessons from God.

When it comes to questions about strength of religious belief, the wide variation in responses across countries may reflect differences in the way people in different countries view the role of religion in their private and public lives.

European countries experienced rapid secularization starting in the 19th century, and today, comparatively few people in Italy (25 percent), the Netherlands (17 percent) or Sweden (9 percent) say that religion is very important in their lives.

East Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea have low rates of religious affiliation and observance – at least by Western-centric measures.

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