As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause deaths and disrupt billions of lives globally, people may turn to religious groups, family, friends, co-workers or other social networks for support. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in 14 countries in the summer of 2020 reveals that more Americans than people in other economically developed countries say the outbreak has bolstered their religious faith and the faith of their compatriots.
Nearly three-in-ten Americans (28%) report stronger personal faith because of the pandemic, and the same share think the religious faith of Americans overall has strengthened, according to the survey conducted in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Far smaller shares in other parts of the world say religious faith has been affected by the coronavirus. For example, just 10% of British adults report that their own faith is stronger as a result of the pandemic, and 14% think the faith of Britons overall has increased due to COVID-19. In Japan, 5% of people say religion now plays a stronger role in both their own lives and the lives of their fellow citizens.
Majorities or pluralities in all the countries surveyed do not feel that religious faith has been strengthened by the pandemic, including 68% of U.S. adults who say their own faith has not changed much and 47% who say the faith of their compatriots is about the same.
Perceptions about the pandemic’s influence on faith are tied to people’s own levels of observance – those who are more religious are more likely than their less religious compatriots to say COVID-19 has strengthened their faith and that of others in their country.
In Spain, for example, 49% of those who say religion is very important in their lives say their own religious faith has been bolstered because of the pandemic, compared with 6% among those who say religion is less important. A similar pattern occurs in the U.S.: 45% of those who say religion is very important in their lives say the pandemic has made their faith stronger, compared with 11% who consider religion less important. Overall, 24% of Spanish adults say religion is very important in their lives, as do 49% of Americans.
Wealth and education also play a role: In some countries, people with lower incomes and less education are somewhat more likely than others to say the pandemic has bolstered their religious faith.
When it comes to income, the largest gaps appear in the U.S. and Spain, where people at or below the national median income are 12 percentage points more likely than the rest of the population to say their religious faith has become stronger. There are also significant differences by income group in Canada, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, France, South Korea and Japan.
People with less education are significantly more likely than those with a secondary education or higher to say their personal religious faith has deepened in five of the countries surveyed: Spain (those with less education are 11 points more likely to say this), Italy (8 points), the U.S. (7 points), France (5 points) and Japan (3 points).