- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Nearly two-thirds of respondents say their faith has been important during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey by a leading religious liberty firm.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s 2020 Religious Freedom Index reports that 62% of respondents have relied upon their faith this year, to weather the coronavirus storm.

“In a year when nations wanton science and government to provide a cure to the coronavirus pandemic, it may seem that religion and people of faith would have little to offer in terms of solutions,” said Becket’s executive summary.

Becket reported a 7 percentage point increase over last year’s survey in those who “think people of faith are definitely part of the solution” to social problems.

What was less convincing, however, were whether places of worship reacted appropriately to COVID-19 restrictions. According to Tuesday’s results, 40% of responders said churches, mosques, and synagogues acted appropriately, while 30% saying those houses of worship acted “inappropriately.”

Moreover, just under 40% of respondents (39%) said the government treated religious congregations fairly, while 28% said the government treated congregations unfairly.

This year’s survey also addressed social concerns, finding fewer than half (49%) of respondents said their faith community was doing a “good job” responding to calls for racial justice. Becket says this suggests a “significant leadership gap,” as people of faith look to their spiritual leaders for direction on social issues.

Tuesday’s study is the second nationwide measurement of religious liberty, finding “little change” from the 2019 report, showing a composite score of 66 out 100 (a single point decrease from last year’s score), showing relatively robust support for rights of religious expression in the U.S.

• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at cvondracek@washingtontimes.com.

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