Interesting article by Adam Gabbatt in The Guardian exploring how the pandemic has accelerated a trend of church closures in the US:
Losing their religion: why US churches are on the decline
“As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year – probably accelerated by Covid”
It suggests that the Cold War was the reason why the US didn’t experience the rise of the Nones (atheists, agnostics, and nothing-in-particular) as early as other countries: the US characterized itself as a “Christian nation” in contrast to “those godless commies”.
The closure of churches during the pandemic has accelerated the decline of church attendance because people got out of the habit during lockdown and it’s too much effort to restart the habit.
When you consider that attending church takes up a quarter of a weekend, and Americans get so little time off work, it’s amazing that high levels of church attendance have continued so long.
At least membership of a religion gives people a sense of belonging and community; but if that is in conflict with some other area of their life, they will leave. I explored these types of conflicts in my book, Changing Paths (coming soon from 1000 Volt Press).