Only one in 10 Brits think Covid-19 has strengthened their faith

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(Photo: Unsplash/K. Mitch Hodge)

Only one in 10 people in Britain report that the pandemic has made their personal faith stronger, according to new data from Pew Research. 

The survey spanned 14,276 adults across 14 developed countries – the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Americans were the most likely to say that the pandemic had bolstered their personal faith (28%), far exceeding the the UK, which was level with South Korea and France at 10%. 

Americans were also the most likely to say that Covid-19 had strengthened the religious faith of people in their country more generally (28%). By contrast, only 14% of Britons felt the same. 

Among the American respondents, white evangelical Protestants were most likely to say their personal faith had been strengthened (49%). 

Sweden (3%) and Denmark (2%) were the least likely to report stronger personal faith, with Japan and Germany only slightly higher at 5% each. 

Overall, majorities in all of the countries surveyed did not feel that their religious faith had been strengthened by the pandemic.

A median of only 10% across the 14 countries said their own religious faith had become stronger as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, while a median of 85% said their religious faith had not changed much.

In both the US and UK, people were far more likely to say that family bonds had strengthened during the pandemic (41% each).

Pew said the wide variation in responses across countries “may reflect differences in the way people in different countries view the role of religion in their private and public lives.” 

In Europe, for example, countries there have experienced “rapid secularization”, while countries like Japan typically have low rates of religious affiliation and observance, Pew said. 

The survey was conducted between June 10 and August 3 last year, when all of the countries were under lockdown, but Pew acknowledged that attitudes may have changed since then. 

“Even though the coronavirus is a global pandemic, not all countries have experienced the disease in the same way,” it said.

“During the fielding period, Australia, Japan and the United States had rising numbers of infections, while Italy and some other European countries had started to recover from the large number of cases reported in April and May.

“Nearly all countries surveyed experienced significant spikes in infections and deaths in the fall and winter.

“The worsening of the pandemic, including tightening restrictions after the survey was conducted, may have affected views of faith and family since the summer of 2020.

“Attitudes also may continue to shift as the pandemic evolves. Nevertheless, if the differences between the US and other economically developed countries on religion-related questions have deeper roots, they may persist even as the pandemic wears on, and the same may be true of differences between demographic groups within countries.” 



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