How is the pandemic impacting religion and faith?

This fall, The Harris Poll conducted a survey to discover if and how COVID-19 is impacting American’s faith. It is making them feel more spiritual? Does a potential rise in spirituality translate into action? See our key findings below to find out:

COVID-19 may be making people feel more spiritual/religious despite not being able to attend services regularly, especially for parents with children under 18.

  • 43% of parents with children under 18 say it has made them much/somewhat more spiritual (vs. 25%) and 40% say it has made them much/somewhat more religious (vs. 20% without children under 18)
  • Additionally, those ages 35-44 and 45-54 are feeling more spiritual (45% and 39% respectively) than other age groups.
  • And 14% of those without any previous religious affiliation said that they have been feeling more spiritual due to COVID-19.
  • Men may be losing their faith, however, as 1 in 5 men (20%) say the pandemic has made them feel much/somewhat less religious (only 16% of women said this).

Perceptions are even higher, with 64% of Americans saying that they believe the COVID-19 pandemic has brought people in general close to their faith.

  • This jumps to nearly three-quarters (74%) of those ages 65+
  • And, 61% believe the pandemic will cause more people to become believers in religion
    • Which may be the case as we saw above with 14% of those without any previous religious affiliation said that they have been feeling more spiritual due to COVID-19.
  • People believe this despite over half (54%) also saying the pandemic has brought out the worst in people

The pandemic is affecting how and how often people practice their religions.

  • 65% ever went to religious service before pandemic, down to 44% now
  • 50% are (have) attending by other means (virtual, etc.)
  • 88% plan to return to in person services who are not attending now due to COVID
    • 1 in 5 say immediately once allowed (20%)
    • But, 12% say they will never return
    • Married people are ready to return sooner with nearly 1 in 4 (24%) of them saying they will return immediately/as soon as they are allowed vs. 16% of those not married

Despite saying COVID is making them feel more spiritual and asserting that it is bringing people closer to their faith, giving levels to houses of worship/faiths may be taking a downturn.

  • 22% say their giving levels are much/somewhat lower vs. 14% who say it is much/somewhat higher. 38% say it has stayed about the same.
    • Women are giving less than men, with 15% of them saying their contributions have been much lower (compared with only 6% of men who said this).
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, those in higher income households ($100K+) have increased their giving much more during the pandemic (25% much/somewhat higher) than those making 75-99.9K a year (9% say much/somewhat higher).

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on September 17-21, 2020, among 2,049 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Download the full data here.