COVID-19 and its effects on religious beliefs

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Published in the Journal of Religion and Health, a recent study surveyed Christian and irreligious people online at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This suggests that those who had strong beliefs in their Christian faith, or who had no religious beliefs, strengthened their belief in their positions after the pandemic began.

Christian respondents who reported low to moderate belief reported no change in their strength of belief in response to the crisis.

The study, led by Dr Francesco Rigoli, Lecturer in Psychology at City, University of London, surveyed 280 adults online on March 30, 2020. Half of the respondents were UK citizens and the other half US citizens , and screened for their belief in Christianity. or without religion.

Participants answered a series of questions to gauge the extent to which they agreed with a variety of positions.

For example, one question was “How religious are you?” to which respondents responded with one of the following numerical responses: 1 = not at all religious, 2 = somewhat religious, 3 = moderately religious, 4 = somewhat religious, 5 = very religious.

Other similarly worded questions asked about the extent to which religious beliefs have changed since the onset of COVID-19 (if any), personal feelings of control associated with the coronavirus pandemic, confidence in the ability of authorities to manage the crisis and the anxiety caused by the crisis.

No link was found between a change in religious belief since the onset of the crisis and a personal sense of control or the authorities’ ability to manage the crisis.

However, the study suggests that respondents’ level of anxiety caused by COVID-19 could influence the change in their strength of belief after the onset of the crisis. The higher the level of anxiety, the more respondents with a strong Christian belief seem to have reinforced their belief, and those without a religious belief have reinforced their irreligious position.

Reflecting on the study, Dr Rigoli says “The implications of this study are twofold. First, our findings contribute to research on the impact of stress on religiosity, supporting the idea that, at least in some circumstances, stress and anxiety reinforce the commitment to prior belief systems, namely the Christian faith for strong believers and skeptical belief systems for non-believers.Secondly, our study contributes to expanding our knowledge about the consequences of “The coronavirus pandemic. Besides its medical implications, the coronavirus crisis also poses a dramatic challenge to the psychology and culture of many communities; therefore, shedding light on these aspects represents an important research effort.”

The study was published in the Journal of Religion and Health.

Belief in God or science does not help relieve acute stress, new study finds

More information:
Francesco Rigoli, The link between COVID-19, anxiety and religious beliefs in the US and UK, Journal of Religion and Health (2021). DOI: 10.1007/s10943-021-01296-5

Provided by City University London

Quote: COVID-19 and its effects on religious beliefs (2021, August 5) retrieved February 21, 2022 from

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Ruth R. Culp