'Faith is a source of hope’: COVID-19 causing some Americans to renew faith in religion

BOSTON — The pandemic is causing some Americans to renew their interest in religion, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

“The old World War II adage that there are no atheists in the foxholes comes to mind, but that would cynical. I think there’s much more to it,” said Thomas Groome, a Professor of Theology at Boston College.

Groome added that a crisis like this can “cause us to stop short, to look honestly at how we’re living our lives, and then why we’re living that way.”

This spring, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey and found that 24% of Americans believe their religious faith strengthened as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Just 2% said their faith had weakened.

Boston 25 News asked people in Arlington Center for their thoughts on these findings.

“Everyone’s mind is racing and we’re all worried. We need something to hang onto,” said one woman.

Another added that “it makes us think and realize how short life is.”

“Maybe because a lot of people are quite frankly dying, and they start to think about things they haven’t had to think about before, like the afterlife,” said one woman.

“People need to connect with something, and faith is a source of hope,” commented Rabbi David Lerner of Temple Emunah in Lexington.

Rabbi Lerner said that all his congregation’s services and events are seeing increased participation.

“That’s because people need to be together at this time, when you’re isolated, and it makes perfect sense,” he said.

The Pew Survey found even some younger people, those between the ages of 18-29, felt a strong sense of faith.

Professor Groome is encouraged to see those numbers.

“It could confront our young people that if they have a need, they can’t just go it alone," he said. "That it just can’t be self-prescribed spirituality. There has to be community and outreach if it is to stay the course, it’s to last the journey.”

Rabbi Lerner is happy he can help people find their way thru a dark time.

“Faith is about giving people a picture of something different, that things don’t have to be locked in the way that they are now, that we’re going to get through this,” he said.