Most Americans Feel Safe Returning to Church, Pew Reports…… | News and reports

A year and a half into the coronavirus pandemic, most faithful believe it is finally safe to be back on the benches.

And despite significant clashes over COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine exemptions, regular attendees largely agree with their congregations’ reopening plans and trust the advice of their church leaders on whether to to be vaccinated, according to a survey released today by the Pew Research Center.

According to the survey, those who go to church at least once a month were as likely to trust their church’s guidance as public health officials. The only group they deemed more trustworthy was their own doctor.

“Overall, more Americans who attend church services at least once a month express trust in their clergy and religious leaders to provide vaccine guidance than do their elected officials. state, their local elected officials, or the news media,” the researchers wrote.

The results underpin faith-based vaccination campaign strategies, which continue to urge leaders to share resources or speak up about their decision to get vaccinated, whether from the pulpit or in one-on-one conversations with faithful.

Across all traditions, American worshipers were much more likely to say their pastors encouraged (39%) than discouraged the vaccine (5%). But the majority said their pastors hadn’t said much anyway.

Black Protestants were most likely to hear pro-vaccine messages from church leaders; about two-thirds say their church has promoted vaccination. The topic was discussed the least among evangelical Protestants, with around three-quarters saying their pastors hadn’t really weighed in on vaccination.

A previous Pew report found that 83% of U.S. congregations heard their pastor discuss the pandemic in their preaching last year.

Previous research has shown how the views and vaccination rates of black Protestants have changed more dramatically than white evangelicals since vaccines were widely released earlier this year. “There was a time when we only talked about vaccine hesitancy in black Protestant communities,” said Curtis Chang, co-founder of Christians and the Vaccine, Recount USA today in August. “Now this is really a white evangelical question.”

From the start, some evangelical pastors wondered whether or how to discuss vaccination – some believing that medical decisions were up to patients and their doctors, others were happy to praise God for the development of a treatment. which could help save lives. Many evangelical figures, including conservative Southern Baptist leader Robert Jeffress, continued to vaccinate themselves and promote vaccination by hosting clinics.

The subject remains sensitive, however, and some in the minority, who say they will refuse the vaccine under any circumstances, are beginning to turn to requests for religious exemption. Other surveys showed white evangelicals most likely to continue to refuse vaccine; however, a majority had gotten the shot by June.

With higher vaccination rates and a drop in coronavirus infections, 8 in 10 worshipers are confident they can worship in person without catching or transmitting the virus, Pew found.

Two-thirds of regular worshipers (64%) said in September they had returned to in-person services in the past month, compared to 43% who returned in March 2021 and 33% in July 2020.

Evangelicals and Catholics were more likely to say they had recently attended an in-person church service than were traditional and black Protestants, and worshipers in the Northeast and Midwest were somewhat more likely to be back than those in the south and west.

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began approving indoor unmasked worship for those who had been vaccinated. After the delta variant began to take off over the summer, it revised recommendations to say those vaccinated should wear masks in indoor public places as long as there are high levels of transmission in the area. . (In October, this applies almost all over the country.)

When asked what they think should happen with worship services at this stage of the pandemic, more than half of regular worshipers (59%) said their churches should be open with some precautions in square. This largely matches what is actually happening, as 59% said last month that their churches had reopened with precautions.

Of the remaining worshippers, 34% said their churches were gathering without precautions and 6% said their churches had yet to resume in-person worship.

The number of churches still closed continues to fall, from 17% earlier this year and 31% last year.

Evangelicals are most likely to worship in person without restrictions. Half say their churches are operational as they were before the outbreak, compared to 20% of mainstream Protestants, 14% of black Protestants and 19% of Catholics who say the same.

Comments are closed.