A new survey reveals that the American public is much more accepting of churches defying coronavirus lockdowns than they were when the pandemic first broke out in March.
Paul Djupe, an affiliated scholar with the Public Religion Research Institute, and Ryan Burge, a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University, collaborated on a survey asking 1,750 Americans for their views about the coronavirus pandemic in October. They had previously collaborated on a coronavirus-related survey in March, when they spoke to 3,100 Americans.
When asked if they agreed with the statement, “If the government told us to stop gathering in person for worship I would want my congregation to defy the order,” 34% of respondents who participated in the October survey agreed (with 16% strongly agreeing). By contrast, 21.8% of Americans surveyed in March said that they agreed (with 10.7% strongly agreeing) with their congregation defying in-person worship restrictions.
Meanwhile, the share of Americans who disagreed with churches’ defiance of worship restrictions dropped significantly from March to October. In October, 39.1% of Americans disagreed (with 25.8% strongly disagreeing) with the defiance compared to 55.6% (with 36.4% strongly disagreeing) in March.
Those who strongly disagreed with churches’ defiance of in-person worship restrictions made up a plurality of the respondents in March but by October, a plurality of respondents (26.9%) said that they neither agreed nor disagreed with defiance of worship restrictions.
The survey also analyzed the responses to the question based on political party affiliation, finding that support for defiance of coronavirus worship restrictions had increased among all party identifiers. “Our data suggest defiance is growing across the board. Even strong Democrats are urging a more defiant stance, though the growth among Republicans is much greater,” Djupe and Burge wrote.
According to Djupe and Burge, another factor explains the increased support for churches defying worship restrictions: adherence to the prosperity gospel, which teaches that “religious belief is a quid pro quo, returning a wide range of benefits for believers, especially health and wealth.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Ryan Foley