Health Experts Say the Pandemic Is Making People Reconnect with Religion

Religious institutions are currently faced with challenges brought about by the pandemic, which limit the number of congregants attending worship services.

Yet some public health experts foresee that once the safe-distancing restrictions have been lifted, there will be an influx of people who will seek in-person church services in reconnecting with their religion.

Church Attendance was on a Decline Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, church leaders were already struggling with dwindling church attendance. The nonprofit organization Public Religion Research (PRR) had previously reported that since the 1990s, many Americans have checked out of their religious affiliations. According to the PRRI, roughly 4 out of 10 Americans, particularly among those aged 30 and below preferred not to belong to any religious affiliation.

The decline in church attendance has been heavy among white Christians, causing Catholics and Protestants churches to experience significant yearly drops in church memberships. Thus, the anticipation among these religious institutions is that the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, will all the more heighten their struggle to keep their memberships intact.

Health Experts Foresee a Post-Pandemic Scenario in Which People will Reconnect with Religion

Yvette Cozier, an epidemiology associate professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, deems the connection between well-being and religious worship goes beyond the concept of spirituality. Ms. Cozier says that inasmuch that a lot of things have happened since the outbreak, Ms. Cozier said people have been reaching out to religious institutions that can provide them comfort.

That is why she believes that once barriers are down, religious institutions can expect to see church attendance taking a different direction. The way Ms. Cozier sees it, an influx of Americans will be returning to their religion. Many are now listening to televised or Zoom sermons. Somehow, the experience boosts their mood as they read and listen with anxiety and disbelief, to all the negativity that has been happening around the world.

Ms. Cozier say that while listening to religious sermons provide protective health effects when in-person participation is not available, she says having fellowship and sharing a space with other church congregants may bring more than just health benefits.

Duke University School of Medicine’s Director for Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, Dr. Harold G. Koenig, who is also a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor, agrees with Ms. Cozier. Dr. Koenig is of the opinion that in-person worship may even lower one’s risk of coronavirus infection, since the mood-boosting effects of religious involvement can help improve the functioning of the immune system.

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