A majority (76%) of U.S. adults who typically attend religious services at least monthly are confident that they now can safely attend an in-person faith gathering, according to a Pew Research Center report published March 22.

This is a 12-point increase from July 2020, and it aligns closely with other trends found in the report.

There was a nine-point increase in adults who attended in-person religious services in the past month from July 2020 to March 2021 (up to 42%), and a seven-point decrease in adults who watched a live-streaming service in the last month over the same time period (down to 65%).

Respondents who say their congregation should be “open, but with COVID-19 restrictions” remained steady, ticking up one point to 58% from July 2020 to March 2021.

Exactly half of all respondents believe both social distancing and masks should be mandatory at in-person services, with 42% saying capacity should be restricted, 29% that communal singing should be limited, and 23% that services should be held outside.

The most notable change was a 13-point decrease (to 15%) of respondents who said houses of faith should be “closed for in-person services,” and a 13-point increase (to 26%) of those who believe congregations should be “open as normal.”

Only 17% of all respondents said their congregation is still closed for in-person services (down 14 points from July 2020), while 64% said that their house of faith is open with restrictions (up nine points) and 12% that it is open as normal (up six points).

Even as confidence in safe in-person attendance increases, along with the number of congregations holding in-person services in some form or fashion, a strong majority of all respondents (82%) say their congregation continues to stream or record services.

Despite the high confidence in the ability to safely attend in-person services and the 84% who believe congregations should be open in some capacity, only 39% of U.S. Christians plan to attend Easter services in person. On average, 62% of Christian adults in the U.S. have attended in person on Easter.

Evangelical Protestants are the most likely group to say they plan to attend in-person Easter services (52%), followed by Catholics (36%), historically Black Protestants (31%) and Mainline Protestants (27%).

White, non-Hispanic Christians are most likely to plan to attend in person on Easter Sunday (41%), compared to 37% of Hispanic Christians and 32% of Black, non-Hispanic Christians.

All of these figures are well below the historical averages for each group’s Easter Sunday attendance rates.

The full report is available here. The topline results are available here.

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