Survey reveals increasing support for defying church coronavirus restrictions

(Photo: Unsplash/Carolina Jacomin)

Americans are more likely to support the defiance of restrictions on public worship now than they were at the start of the pandemic.

Researchers found that just over a third of Americans (34%) were supportive of church congregations defying government orders to stop gathering in person for worship. 

This is a sizeable jump from just over one in five (21.8%) back in March. 

The findings are the result of a survey of 1,750 Americans carried out by Paul Djupe, of the Public Religion Research Institute, and political science professor Ryan Burge, of Eastern Illinois University. 

According to their research, published on the Public Religion Research Institute's blog, the proportion of people who "strongly agree" with defying church restrictions increased from 10.7% at the start of the pandemic to 16% now, while opposition to defying restrictions fell from 55.6% to 39.1%.

The study found support for defiance increasing across the political spectrum, although it was stronger among Republicans, but the researchers also reported a link with belief in the prosperity gospel. 

"Prosperity gospel belief is also linked to opposition to state health orders, and the connection is easy to see: if the church is the instrument of personal health, then shuttering the church is a direct threat to personal safety during a pandemic," they said.

While many churches have followed lockdown orders, others have been fighting them in the courts, 

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld a legal challenge by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, a Haredi Orthodox Jewish organization, against restrictions on houses of worship in New York state.

Covid-19 mandates limited gatherings to between 10 and 25 people, but the Supreme Court said that the rules "strike at the very heart of the First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty."