After spike during pandemic, fewer people say religion is gaining influence, poll says

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After doubling in May 2020, the share of people saying religion is gaining influence in the U.S. has fallen to pre-pandemic levels in the latest poll.

A Gallup poll found that 16% of Americans said religion is growing more influential compared with 27% who said the same in December 2020 and 38% who said it in April 2020.

Meanwhile, 82% of respondents said religion is losing influence compared with 58% who said that in April 2020.

“Americans have long thought that religion is losing rather than increasing its influence on U.S. society, but those views eased last year as the U.S. dealt with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic,” Gallup wrote. “Now, with many Americans vaccinated against the disease and COVID-19 infections falling, U.S. public opinion on the influence of religion has returned to pre-pandemic levels, sitting just slightly above the historical low point.”

The latest survey was conducted May 3-18 with a sample size of 1,016 adults and a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The 16% figure is close to the record low of Americans saying religion is becoming more influential. Since Gallup started asking Americans that question for more than 60 years, the 16% figure is close to the historic low of 14% in the 1969 and 1970 polls.

The new poll also coincides with more Americans attending in-person church services.

Gallup found that 20% of respondents said they were attending in-person services when asked in May 2021 compared with 13% who said the same in December 2020.

Americans were also most likely out of the 14 economically developed countries surveyed to say that the COVID pandemic has strengthened their faith.

A survey taken by the Pew Research Center during the summer of 2020 found that 28% of Americans say their faith and the faith of other people in the country have strengthened during the pandemic.

Just 16% of the people surveyed in Spain, 15% of those surveyed in Italy, and 13% of people surveyed in Canada said the same about their faith being strengthened during the COVID pandemic.

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