Online Religious Services Appeal to Many Americans, but Going in Person Remains More Popular

About a quarter of U.S. adults regularly watch religious services online; 21% use apps or websites to help with reading scripture.

Online Religious Services Appeal to Many Americans, but Going in Person Remains More Popular

Pew Research l June 2, 2023

It’s been clear for more than two years that the video technology that helped Americans stay in touch with relatives, friends and colleagues during COVID-19 lockdowns also helped many to connect with houses of worship. What wasn’t clear, though, was how people felt about these virtual experiences. Would they keep watching services on screens, even after they thought it was safe to attend in person? What did they like about joining services remotely? What didn’t they like? A new survey from Pew Research Center sought to address these questions.

The survey of more than 11,000 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 16-27, 2022, found that about a quarter of U.S. adults regularly watch religious services online or on TV, and most of them are highly satisfied with the experience. Two-thirds of U.S. adults who regularly stream religious services online or watch them on TV say they are either “extremely satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the services they see.

At the same time, Americans tend to give higher marks to worshipping together in person. While majorities express satisfaction with virtual services, even bigger shares of physical attenders say they feel extremely or very satisfied with the sermons (74%) and music (69%) at the services they attend in person.

Those who do both – who watch services on screens and attend in person – overwhelmingly say they prefer going in person, by a margin of 76% to 11%. An additional 14% say they have no preference.

In addition, virtual viewers are much less likely to report feeling connected to other worshippers. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of regular in-person attenders say they feel “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of connection with their fellow attenders, the two highest options on a five-point scale. On the other hand, only 22% of regular virtual viewers say they feel strongly connected to the other people watching online or on TV.

The survey also asked respondents whether they use online apps or web-based technology for religious purposes other than virtual services. Overall, three-in-ten U.S. adults say they go online to search for information about religion. Roughly two-in-ten say they use apps or websites to help them read scripture or to remind them to do so, including 9% who do this daily. A similar share (20%) say they watch religion-focused online videos, such as those found on YouTube or TikTok.

Americans who belong to historically Black Protestant denominations are more frequent watchers of religious services online. About six-in-ten adults in historically Black Protestant denominations (58%) say they generally watch religious services on screens at least monthly or watched them in the month prior to the survey. This compares with 47% of evangelicals, 28% of mainline Protestants, 24% of Catholics and 19% of Jews.

Other key findings include:

Overall, 17% of U.S. adults say they share content about religion on social media. Roughly one-in-ten (11%) say they have posted a prayer request, while about four-in-ten (42%) have seen someone else’s prayer request online. Meanwhile, 17% of Americans say they have unfollowed, unfriended or blocked a person on social media, or changed their social media settings to see less of a person, due to religious content they posted. And 3% say that someone else has done this to them online.

Adults in historically Black Protestant denominations and evangelical Protestants are more likely to be “heavy users” of religious technology than those from other major religious groups. Based on a scale Center researchers developed to measure Americans’ religion-related technology use, 37% ofadults in historically Black Protestant churches and 28% of evangelical Protestants are considered heavy users of religious technology. By comparison, roughly one-in-ten Catholics, mainline Protestants and Jews are heavy users of religious technology (12% of each group).

These are among the findings from the new report, which is based on a survey of 11,377 respondents. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.

Deep Convictions: A Look At Religious Liberty

CVV News l June 29, 2022

(NAPSI)—What would you do if your most strongly held beliefs were challenged by the government, placing your livelihood, your way of life and even your freedom at risk?

You may find inspiration for your answer in a new book about four Americans—a priest, an atheist, a Native American and a baker—who put it all on the line for their creeds.

The Book

“Deep Conviction: True Stories of Ordinary Americans Fighting for the Freedom to Live Their Beliefs” (Shadow Mountain) is by professor and lawyer Steven T. Collis. An advocate and a scholar, he believes religious freedom is “a fundamental liberty protecting all individuals living in this country, allowing us to exist in relative peace with one another.” This peace, he adds, is unique in history and exceptional even in the world today. Collis notes, “Religion is not what leads us to battle, it’s the lack of religious liberty.”

The book offers insights into religious liberty through the stories of four ordinary Americans who risked their reputations to preserve and live their personal beliefs. Although vastly different in many ways, they share such qualities as conviction and determination.

The Courageous Four

• In 1813, a Catholic priest in New York City faced prison after a grand jury subpoenaed him for refusing to divulge the identity of a jewelry thief who admitted to the crime during the sacrament of confession.

• In 1959, an atheist in Maryland was forced to stand up for his beliefs when the state required him to sign an oath that said he believed in God before he could work as a notary public. The United States Supreme Court would decide his fate.

• In 1989, a Klamath Indian man walked into the highest court of the nation to fight for the right to practice the central sacrament of the Native American Church after the state of Oregon had declared it illegal.

• And, finally, in 2017, a Christian baker and a gay couple took their cases to the United States Supreme Court after the baker declined to create a custom wedding cake to celebrate the couple’s same-sex marriage, fearing it would violate his duty to God.

Written with the pace of a novel, Collis’ book brings these stories to life in a way that reflects their universality and the broad principles they represent. He stresses how the notion of religious freedom for all, truly cherished, allows justice and protection for everyone, religious or not.

Learn More

For further facts and to get the book, visit

SOURCEPew Research
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