The coronavirus pandemic has clearly caused many people to start looking at big picture issues. A surprising finding is that many young people have turned to faith and religion during this time.
A recent study showed that 39% of high school and post-secondary students have said that they are praying more since first hearing about the coronavirus. About 28% of students polled also said that they are thinking about spiritual issues more often. The poll of 800 students was conducted by Echelon Insights for Young America’s Foundation and The Federalist.
A spokesman for Young America’s Foundation said that many young people and those from Generation Z prioritize things like money and fitness over their spirituality. They also tend to not go to church as much, even if they identify with most of the core teachings of Christianity. He believes that when things get disorganized and uncertain in the lives of young people, they tend to look to spirituality, but that does not necessarily mean that their practices and beliefs during crisis time will continue for the rest of their lives. As things start to return to normal, many of these young people will likely pray less and will not be as interested in spirituality.
The polling also showed that most young people are worried about friends and family that could contract the coronavirus. About one third of all individuals polled had been affected economically with a loss of a job or money.
Some churches have started streaming services online to cater to the demand for spirituality and guidance during the pandemic. A reverend from an Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina said that he thinks churches will be able to stay full and retain their congregations if they are helping people find answers during the pandemic. He believes that this is especially important as people look for security when their businesses, schools, and places they went for recreation and entertainment closed.
Christian believers are looking to Jesus for hope as a part of this trend as they face unemployment and health concerns. The reverend said that over the course of his time as a leader in his community, he has seen a combination of people that only look to God during times of duress, as well as those who do form lasting religious beliefs and relationships.
A rabbi was interviewed for the same story. He said that people always look to religion during times when they face their own mortality and an uncertain future. The same thing happened with his congregation after the September 11th, 2001 attacks. He also believes that current trends with people becoming spiritual without necessarily belonging to any organized religion or church will accelerate. There is also the possibility of even more extremism in religion and politics as the country becomes more polarized.