- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2023

More Americans say their participation in worship services has declined since the COVID-19 pandemic than say it has increased, according to a new Pew Research study.

Pew said an analysis of data tracking four surveys from 2019 to last year found that 87% of respondents had no change in their rate of worship attendance.

Those who did say their habits changed more often reported a decline in attendance (8%), while 4% said they went to worship more frequently, according to the report released Tuesday.

A November 2022 survey found that 20% of Americans said their in-person attendance at weekly worship has decreased and 7% said they attend more often. However, 15% said their virtual participation in worship had increased, while 5% said they were viewing online or televised services less often.

Between 2019 and 2022, the percentage of U.S. adults who “generally attend” worship once or more times a month dropped slightly, from 33% to 30%.

Pew said White evangelicals have been most likely to attend services in person during the pandemic and after. The percentage reporting in-person attendance never fell below 30%, which it reached in July 2020. In the November 2022 survey, 52% of White evangelicals said they attended in person.

Black Protestant in-person attendance has varied from a low of 14% in July 2020 to 41% in the November 2022 survey. Pew reported that Black Americans “suffered a disproportionately high share of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, which might have contributed to the lower attendance figures.”

Pew said Jewish in-person attendance varied from a low of 10% in July 2020 to 38% in November 2022. Online/televised Jewish worship hovered between 16% and 18% for the same period. Two surveys — in September 2021 and March 2022 — found an insufficient number of Jewish respondents for data to be measured, Pew reported.

Catholic attendance ranged from 13% in July 2020 to 33% last November. Streamed/broadcast service viewing varied from 33% in July 2020 to 20% for November 2022.

The November 2022 survey included 11,377 respondents and has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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