Friday, April 10, 2020

Will Covid-19 Cause a "Religious Recession"? ~ an economist ponders this question

Will Covid-19 Cause a "Religious Recession"? 

Brian Holler writing in the "Religion and Diplomacy Blog"

Several forces are simultaneously at work that could impact religiosity. First, many people have more time on their hands and so the opportunity cost of time spent in religious activities has decreased. This will be particularly true for people who have seen interruptions in their employment because of decrease in economic activity. If everything else was equal, we would expect this to lead to a rise in church attendance.

But everything else is not equal right now. As the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow, people with religious backgrounds will likely turn to their faith to find comfort and solace in this time of distress. In recent years, however, regular church attendance as a percentage of the population has steadily fallen in the United States (with even more pronounced drop-offs in many European nations). And the percentage of the population identifying as having no religion has been growing. This decrease in societal religiosity means that fewer people today than in times past will likely turn to religious institutions for solace during this pandemic.

Dr Brian Hollar

Additionally, the pandemic is causing the social element of church participation to decrease significantly. If a service is being live-streamed, congregants are likely not going to see anyone but their clergy on a screen on Sunday mornings. If a church has no streaming service or if many congregants are not online (due to factors such as age or income), then social distancing may rapidly translate into rapid reduction in the social benefit of being involved in church. If this pandemic lasts more than a few weeks, some very critical social capital might be lost which may impact churches long-term after they attempt to re-gather once the social restrictions from the pandemic lessen.

Read it all HERE at "Religion and Diplomacy" Blog

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