Although America is beginning to re-open its doors to local businesses, Americans themselves remain mostly uneasy with the idea of things going back to normal. That holds true for church as well, as a new study from American Enterprise Institute found that 64 percent respondents were either “somewhat” or “very” uncomfortable with going back to church. In fact, even among churchgoers who said their churches have begun offering in-person services again, a full 56 percent said they’re not going.
“We’re seeing among laypeople a significant amount of discomfort in going back to formal in-person religious practices,” said Daniel Cox, a research fellow at AEI who led the study. “People are equivocating and uncertain about whether they feel comfortable attending.”
Unsurprisingly, not everyone feels the same. White evangelicals are more likely to feel comfortable about going back to in-person services than white mainline Protestants or Black Protestants. Data has suggested that Black Americans are more vulnerable to serious cases of COVID-19 than white Americans are, due to factors like financial stability.
All told, 61 percent of white evangelicals said they were “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” with returning to in-person worship services at their church. By comparison, only 36 percent of white mainline Protestants, 39 percent of white Catholics and just 32 percent of Black Protestants said the same. And compare that to major non-Christian religions, where just 26 percent of respondents said they would be comfortable returning to in-person worship services.