The number of houses of faith holding in-person services as they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has nearly quadrupled in the past year, according to a Pew Research Center report published March 22.
In March 2021, only 12% of U.S. houses of worship were “open to the public and holding services in the same way as before the coronavirus outbreak,” increasing to 29% in September 2021 and to 43% by March 2022.
Those holding services in-person with some modifications declined from 64% in March 2021 to 59% in September 2021 and to 47% by March 2022.
At the present time, 90% of all U.S. adults who attend religious services say their house of faith is holding in-person services, with only 5% holding virtual services only. The other respondents were not sure (4%) or declined to provide an answer (1%).
In-person service attendance increased notably between March 2021 September 2022, but it has plateaued since then.
In March 2021, only 18% of U.S. adults reported that they attended an in-person religious service within the last month. That number rose to 26% by September 2021, but then only increased one percentage point by March 2022.
Evangelical Protestants (75%) are the most likely group to attend in-person services at the present, followed by Catholics (69%), mainline Protestants (68%) and historically Black Protestants (48%).
Evangelical Protestant churches (60%) are also the most likely group to have in-person services as they did before the pandemic, followed by Catholics (43%), mainline Protestants (33%) and historically Black Protestants (21%).
Historically Black Protestants (73%) are the most likely group to watch services online or on television, followed by evangelical Protestants (64%), mainline Protestants (56%) and Catholics (40%).
Historically Black Protestants (8%) are also the most likely group not to have in-person services, with only 1% of all other subgroups reporting only providing virtual services.
“Although the survey was conducted among Americans of all religious backgrounds, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, it did not obtain enough respondents from non-Christian groups to report separately on their responses,” the report said. “Small subgroups of Christians are unable to be analyzed separately for the same reason.”
One third (33%) of U.S. adults were watching services online or on television in March 2021, dropping to 28% by September 2021 and then rising to 30% by March 2022.
A majority (57%) of all U.S. adults did not attend a religious service in person or watch one online in the last month. Of the 43% who did so, 16% only watched services online or on television, 14% attended in-person and watched services, while 13% only attended in person.
Among those who typically attend services monthly, 36% did so in person and online / television in the last month, 31% only attended in person, 21% only watched services, and 12% did not attend.