Religious Congregations' Technological and Financial Capacities on the Eve of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically upended religious life and placed significant strain on religious congregations. However, the effects of the pandemic were likely not felt evenly across the religious landscape.
We used data from the fourth wave of the National Congregations Study, gathered on the eve of the coronavirus pandemic in 2018-19, to identify the kinds of congregations that may have been especially vulnerable to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using bivariate and multiple regression analysis, we examined two aspects of congregations' preparedness for the pandemic: technological infrastructure and financial stability.
We found that, while many congregations were technologically and financially equipped for a time of social distancing and economic recession, there were stark inequalities in levels of preparedness among congregations on the basis of race, class, size, urban/rural location, religious tradition, and the age of congregations' parishioners. In particular, Catholic congregations and congregations with older attendees tended to lack streaming or online communication capacities, and both rural and small congregations had more limited technological infrastructure and less financial cushion. Somewhat surprisingly, predominantly Black congregations were more likely to have worship streaming systems set up prior to the pandemic, though these congregations were more likely to lack other kinds of technological and financial infrastructure.
Conclusions and implications
Though COVID-19's full impact on congregations will not be known for several years, these results highlight variations in congregations' readiness for the pandemic's challenges, and they show that COVID-19's impact likely has not been felt equally across the religious landscape.
Holleman, A; Roso, J; Chaves, M
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