WASHINGTON — According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, more Americans say the coronavirus pandemic has strengthened their religious faith than those in 13 other nations that possess what Pew called “advanced economies.”
On the other side of the coin, though, a majority in every country, the United States included, said the pandemic has made no difference in the level of their faith.
With the exception of Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea, the other nations surveyed were all European: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The survey, released Jan. 27, showed that 28% of Americans said the pandemic had strengthened their own religious faith, and 28% said it had strengthened the faith of people in their country.
The countries closest to the United States were Spain, where 16% of respondents said the pandemic had strengthened their faith, with 17% saying it had strengthened the faith of other Spaniards, and Italy, where 15% said it had strengthened their own faith and 19% said it had strengthened the faith of other Italians.
Across all 14 countries surveyed, the median was 10% saying the pandemic had strengthened their own faith, while 15% said it had strengthened the faith of people in their country.
The only country of those surveyed that registered single digit increases to each question was Japan, where 5% said it had strengthened their own faith and 5% said it had strengthened the faith of people in their country.
In the United States, 68% of those surveyed said their own faith had not changed much, and 47% said the faith of other Americans had stayed about the same.
According to Pew, 48% of Catholics surveyed said the pandemic “strengthened bonds with their immediate family members, which is higher than the share of white evangelical Protestants (34%) who say their family relationships are stronger as a result of the pandemic.”
The survey was conducted June 10-Aug. 3 last year, as people in the affected countries had been under social distancing rules, national lockdown orders, or both. Pew did phone surveys of 14,276 adults total in all 14 countries.
More favorable responses were given when asked whether the pandemic had strengthened family bonds. Spain topped out at 42%, with the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy each registering 41%. Yet even in those countries, a higher percentage of respondents said that had not changed much, either.