Life in U.S. churches slowly edges back toward normal

Life in religious congregations is showing signs of slowly returning to normal as coronavirus cases, hospitalisations and deaths decline and vaccination rates rise across the United States,.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans are increasingly confident they can safely go to services at a church, temple, mosque or other house of worship. And the percentage who say they actually have attended religious services – in person – in the past month is slightly higher than it was last summer.

Three-quarters of U.S. adults who normally attend religious services now say they are “very” or “somewhat” confident they can do so safely, without spreading or catching the coronavirus – up 12 percentage points from when this question was last asked in July 2020. Over that period, there also has been a considerable drop in the share who say they think their congregation should be closed to help stop the spread of the virus.

Roughly four-in-ten people who typically attend religious services at least once or twice a month say they actually have done so, in person, during the past month – up 9 points since last summer. And as in-person attendance has trended upward, there has been a corresponding decline in the share of regular religious attenders who recently have watched services streamed online or on television.