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Religion Protected Mental Health but Constrained Crisis Response During Crucial Early Days of the COVID‐19 Pandemic


Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Published online on


["Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, EarlyView. ", "\nAbstract\nThis study demonstrates that religion protected mental health but constrained support for crisis response during the crucial early days of the COVID‐19 pandemic. Data from a national probability‐based sample of the U.S. population show that highly religious individuals and evangelicals suffered less distress in March 2020. They were also less likely to see the coronavirus outbreak as a crisis and less likely to support public health restrictions to limit the spread of the virus. The conservative politicization of religion in the United States can help explain why religious Americans (and evangelicals in particular) experienced less distress and were less likely to back public health efforts to contain the virus. We conclude that religion can be a source of comfort and strength in times of crisis, but—at least in the case of the COVID‐19 pandemic—it can also undercut efforts to end the root causes of suffering.\n"]