Religious groups have walked through COVID-19 pandemic with relatively higher levels of trust than most other institutions, but also fueled the suspicion of a majority of Americans for spreading vaccine misinformation and putting profits before the well-being of communities local, according to new research.
Notably, 35% of Americans reported feeling a sense of trust in religious / faith-based institutions above business, government, traditional and social media. Only financial institutions got a higher percentage of respondent trust with 44%, “according to a November report from Coeuraj, which describes itself as” a new welfare enterprise focused on building a more equitable world and sustainable ”.
The inaugural report, “Navigating Trust in US Society,” is based on quarterly surveys of a new sample of 20,000 Americans in 2020 and 2021 to assess levels of trust in businesses, philanthropies and religious groups in addition attitudes towards vaccines and fellow citizens.
With emphasis on religious origins, the study found that trust in religious institutions actually increased among some Americans during the pandemic, in many cases due to the way churches and other faith groups handled public health issues.
Confidence in religious institutions actually increased among some Americans during the pandemic, in many cases due to the way churches and other faith groups handled public health issues.
“The 18% who had increased levels of trust in religious / faith groups expressed three main reasons for the increase: support for vaccines, local aid and the role of religion in their lives during the pandemic,” according to The report.
“Faith / faith groups advocating for their members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 left many respondents with the impression that the groups put public safety first, increasing their reliability. “
Churches and other religious groups have also garnered respect in some quarters by adopting low-tech and high-tech practices to operate safely in 2020 and 2021.
“With the vaccine, respondents mentioned religious / faith groups by following social distancing measures and finding new, safe ways to operate, such as church services on Zoom. “
Additionally, 48% of those polled told Coeuraj that they would feel safe asking for help from members of certain religious groups if their community was in difficulty, and 22% said they would ask for contributions from the community. religious institutions if a friend or family member experiences a calamity.
“Many saw the work of faith / faith groups in providing aid through programs such as food drives as proof that the groups cared deeply about their community and would work to help those in need” , revealed the investigation. “Others have found that the sense of community and shared belief provided by religious / faith groups has become increasingly important during the pandemic. “
Corn Coeuraj also reported that 19% of respondents experienced a decline in trust in faith-based organizations due to the perception that they were spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and using anti-vaccine rhetoric.
“Some others felt that religious / religious groups put their own benefits before their members during the pandemic, or became too political, thus undermining their credibility.”
And religious leaders were poorly rated overall in key areas of the COVID-19 response, according to the study.
“When it comes to attitudes towards vaccines, religious / faith leaders rank last for those who might influence their view / decision to get vaccinated with 27% of those surveyed. Friends and family (72%), health officials (67%), government (51-57%), internet surfing (56%) and traditional media (53%) were far more influential as denominations / religious leaders. “
This point of view is understandable taking into account the attitudes of respondents towards the pandemic and vaccines.
“Three-quarters (75%) of the American public personally agreed with the idea of getting vaccinated in the midst of a global pandemic; 13% were anti-vaccination, while 12% remained neutral. Agreement between generations was generally on a continuum, increasing with age.
But the level of mistrust of religious institutions measured by the survey, at 65%, was lower than that found for social media (85%), traditional media (80%), government (77%). , major brands and companies (76%).
When filtered by generation, religious groups ranked second in terms of trust, except among Gen Z Americans who “trusted these institutions significantly less than all other generations (29% among Gen Z vs. one-third of all groups). older) “.
Financial institutions have outperformed others in terms of trust across all age groups. But faith-based organizations have achieved higher levels of trust in some partisan and ethnic demographics, with 48% of Republicans and 45% of Pacific Islanders expressing high confidence in religious institutions.
Among those who trusted faith groups the least were Métis Americans (26%), Asian Americans (27%) and Native Americans (28%), according to the survey.
Meanwhile, Democrats and African Americans (34% each) had only slightly less trust in religious groups than men and white Americans (37% each). Only 33% of women expressed confidence in faith-based organizations, according to the survey.
Coeuraj acknowledged the cracks in trust uncovered in his investigation, but added that he also found positive elements to build on.
“While our confidence in the future has been tested over the past year, surprisingly, the data has shown overall that trust has increased during the pandemic – not just in the trust that family, friends and members of the community make each other, but also in institutions. “
These findings, the report adds, offer “opportunity and hope amid political resentment.”
Most Comprehensive Study to Date on Impact of COVID on Churches Finds Mixed Results
Largest ever survey of U.S. congregations confirms what church consultants told you
How will your church rebuild itself after the disaster of the past year and a half? | Opinion of Mark Wingfield