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African Americans Hit Hardest By COVID-19 But Most Likely To Say Faith Has Grown

The coronavirus pandemic has hit African Americans proportionally harder, with higher infection and death rates than for any other demographic group. The global health crisis, however, may actually have strengthened their religious faith.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of those attending historically black churches said their faith has grown stronger as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For every other denominational group, majorities said their faith has been unchanged during this time.

Just 35 percent of U.S. Christians as a whole say their faith has strengthened, with evangelicals more likely than mainline Protestants to say so. Just seven percent of American Jews said their religious faith has strengthened during this time.

The survey found that women were more likely than men to say their faith has grown, older adults more than younger people and those who pray or attend church regularly more than those who are less religious.

Among those who previously attended religious services at least monthly, 91 percent reported that their congregations have suspended in-person religious services. About eight-in-ten churchgoing Christians say their congregation is now offering streaming or recorded services.

The survey was conducted from April 20-26.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Gjelten reports on religion, faith, and belief for NPR News, a beat that encompasses such areas as the changing religious landscape in America, the formation of personal identity, the role of religion in politics, and conflict arising from religious differences. His reporting draws on his many years covering national and international news from posts in Washington and around the world.