A new poll taken by The American Enterprise Institute has found that almost two-thirds of American Christians feel uncomfortable about returning to in-person churches following the coronavirus lockdown.
The group surveyed 3,504 Americans from late May to early June to gauge their feelings on a return to physical church services, with 64% saying they were either somewhat uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” with returning to in-person services.
Feelings on a return varied amongst different demographics. For example, white evangelical protestants were most secure with returning to worship, with 61% saying they were either “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable" with the idea.
In contrast, just 26% of Hispanic Catholic respondents said they were “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” with a return. In addition, 42% of black protestants said they were “very uncomfortable” with attending, which matched up with those identified as “major non-Christian religion".
Those classed as "unaffiliated" were most likely to say they'd be “very uncomfortable" with a return, with just 8% of that group noting that they would be “very comfortable".
Daniel Cox, who oversaw the study, told the Associated Press:
"People are equivocating and uncertain about whether they feel comfortable attending.
“We're seeing among laypeople a significant amount of discomfort in going back to formal in-person religious practices.”
While guidelines vary from state to state, many churches in the United States are beginning to open up their doors with various precautionary measures in place for the safety of congregants.
Some states continue to see their infection rates soar, with cases in Arizona rising by 267% this month. On Sunday, the state logged a record high daily increase of 3,857 cases.
Last week, a Phoenix church which hosted campaign rally for President Donald Trump was issued a cease-and-desist letter by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich after it claimed to have installed machines that could kill 99.9 per cent of Covid-19 in ten minutes.
After making the outlandish claims, Dream City Church later clarified that it should have specified that the machines, which are made by a company called Clean Air EXP, had actually been tested using "COVID surrogates" rather than the specific Covid-19 virus.
A statement from Brnovich's office said that the air purification company's testing was carried out on "coronavirus 229E", which they noted was "a virus which causes the common cold."
The Attorney General added that "because Dream City rents its facility for public events not related to church functions", the church was placed on notice "that misrepresentations and false promises related to the safety of church facilities may violate the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act".