42% of religious Americans report attending in-person worship at least once in the past month: Pew

People wearing protective face masks sitting with social distance and attending religious mass at church.
People wearing protective face masks sitting with social distance and attending religious mass at church. | Getty Images

As the pandemic continues, 42% of U.S. adults who identify as religious said they've attended worship at least once in the past month, according to the Pew Research Center.

In a Pew report published Monday titled “Life in U.S. Religious Congregations Slowly Edges Back Toward Normal,” researchers found an increase in worship attendance compared to last year.

Among all U.S. adults, Pew found a slight increase of those who reported attending at least one service in the past month, from 13% in July 2020 to 17% in early March 2021.

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A respondent was classified in the religious Americans category if they attended worship services at least once a month on a regular basis before the pandemic lockdowns last year.

Among religious Americans surveyed, 42% said they had attended at least one worship service in the past month, which was higher than the 33% who said the same in July 2020.

When analyzing the Christian subcategories, Pew found that evangelical respondents were the most likely to say they had attended in-person worship in the past month, at 53%.

Catholics were the next largest Christian group to report attending in the past month with 34%, followed by mainline Protestants at 34% and historically black Protestants at 21%.

There was also a racial gap in responses, as 50% of non-Hispanic whites reported attending worship in the past month while 34% of Hispanics and 25% of non-Hispanic blacks responded the same.

The Pew report drew from a nationally representative sample that was surveyed March 1-7 of 12,055 respondents with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

The report also found increased confidence in the safety of attending in-person worship during the pandemic among those who were classified as religious Americans in the study.

Seventy-six percent of religious Americans said they were “very” or “somewhat” confident that they could attend worship without getting COVID-19, an increase from 64% reported last July.

Further, between July 2020 and March 2021, the percentage of religious Americans who believed their congregation should be closed for in-person services declined from 28% to 15%, while those who believed they should be “open as normal” increased from 13% to 26%.

“As coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline and vaccination rates rise across the United States, life in religious congregations is showing signs of slowly returning to normal,” stated Pew.

“Still, the situation in U.S. congregations remains far from ordinary, and this promises to be the second consecutive highly atypical Easter season for Christians.”

Earlier this month, LifeWay Research released a study which found that around one in four people who attended church before the pandemic plan to attend more frequently when it ends.

According to the LifeWay report on Protestant churchgoers, 91% said they plan to return to attending worship post-pandemic and 23% said they will attend worship more often.

LifeWay also found that churchgoers aged 18-29 were the most likely to report planning to attend more, with 43% saying they will go to church more after the pandemic.

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