COVID-19 pandemic leads more Australians to regularly attend their places of worship

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January – March 2020, n = 10,852, April – June 2021, n = 16,183. Base: Australians 14+.

New data from Roy Morgan shows Australians are more likely to regularly attend their place of worship now than immediately before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.1% of Australians aged 14 and over now agree that “I regularly go to church or to my place of worship‘- a 2.8% point increase from the March 2020 quarter (16.3% of Australians) just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examination of the origin of this increase shows large increases for women, millennials, people living in the capital cities and states of NSW, WA and Tasmania, while there have been slight decreases for people living in Victoria and Australians over the age of 75. (Pre-boomers).

Although there is now little difference between women and men on the issue with 19.1% of women and 19% of men stating that they ‘go to church or my place of worship regularly‘the increase was larger for women during the pandemic (up 4.1% points) compared to a smaller increase for men (up 1.2% points).

A look at the different generations shows that Millennials are behind the increase with more than a fifth, 21.2%, now reporting that they ‘rgo to church or my place of worship regularly‘up 5.8% compared to the pre-pandemic period. Gen Z is also on the rise and above the national average, now at 19.8%, up 2.7% during the pandemic.

The only exception among the generations are the Pre-Boomers, those now over the age of 75. Now 22.2% of Pre-Boomers say they ‘go to church or my place of worship regularly‘, down 2% compared to the pre-pandemic period. The decline in attendance by older Australians is not surprising when you consider that COVID-19 poses the greatest risk to Australians in the older age groups. Even so, pre-boomers are still the most likely to regularly attend church or a place of worship.

% of Australians agree: “I regularly go to church or my place of worship” by Gender & Generation in the March 2020 quarter (before COVID-19) cf. Quarter June 2021

Source: Single source Roy Morgan, January – March 2020, n = 10,852, April – June 2021, n = 16,183. Based: Australians 14+.

Residents of capitals, New South Wales, Washington State and Tasmania increase attendance at places of worship

Comparing people living in Australian capitals with those in rural areas reveals a striking difference with more than a fifth of capital city residents, 20.9%, now saying they ‘go to church or my place of worship regularly‘, an increase of 4.1% points during the pandemic.

On the other hand, today, 15.5% of the inhabitants of rural areas declare “go to church or my place of worship regularly‘- unchanged since the pre-pandemic. The main difference between capitals and rural areas during the pandemic has been the series of lockdowns affecting cities like Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth on multiple occasions, while rural areas have largely avoided prolonged lockdowns.

The largest increases by state were recorded in NSW, WA and Tasmania. More than one in five people in NSW (21.2%) now say they ‘go to church or place of worship regularly‘, up 4.1% from the pre-pandemic period and higher than any other state.

The biggest increase was in WA where 21% now say they ‘go to church or place of worship regularly‘- an increase of 6.6% points compared to the pre-pandemic period. In Tasmania, more than one in six people (17.2%) now agree with the statement, an increase of 6.1% from before the onset of COVID-19.

The exception to the overall trend seen among the other states is Victoria, which is the only state to show a drop in the number of people attending church or their place of worship during the pandemic to 17.3% (down from 0 , 2% point). The likely reason for this is the long period of time Victoria was locked out, including almost four months in the second half of 2020 when no other part of Australia was on lockdown.

The data comes from Roy Morgan Single Source, the nation’s largest and longest-running research program on consumer behavior and attitudes, conducted continuously throughout the year.

% of Australians agree: “I regularly go to church or my place of worship” by Capital / Region and State during the March 2020 quarter (before COVID-19) cf. Quarter June 2021


Source: Single source Roy Morgan, January – March 2020, n = 10,852, April – June 2021, n = 16,183. Based: Australians 14+.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said the once-in-a-century pandemic has led to a marked increase in the number of Australians seeking solace by regularly attending their church or place of worship:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge and lasting impact on our way of life over the past 18 months and we are just starting to enter a period of ‘COVID-normal’ now, as high vaccination rates allow locked cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra to finally open.

“There have been many impacts of the pandemic that are not immediately apparent and the increase in attendance at church or other places of worship is a result that has not been widely considered.

“In the June 2021 quarter, nearly one in five Australians (19.1%) say they ‘regularly attend church or place of worship’, an increase of 2.8% from the pre-pandemic period of the March 2020 quarter (16.3%). The increase in attendance during the pandemic, at least in the last 18 months, halted a long-term decline in this measure that we have observed for many years, which hit a low of around 16% in 2019.

“The increase has been widespread, but not uniform, as the circumstances of the pandemic have had a very different impact on distinct demographics across the country. Among the main drivers of the increase are Millennials, those aged 30 to 45, and generally with young families, up 5.8% to 21.2% before the pandemic, more than double the increase observed for any other generation.

“Millennials are now just behind pre-boomers (people over 75) for their regular attendance at church or a place of worship. For many Millennials, the pandemic has meant long periods of working from home while caring for elementary-age children engaged in distance learning. It has clearly been a very difficult time for many young parents.

“In contrast, the pre-boomers are the only generation to have experienced a decline in regular attendance at church or a place of worship. No wonder when you consider the much higher danger posed to older Australians from the threat of COVID-19. More than half of all Australian deaths from COVID-19 have been in people aged 75 or older.

“There has also been a clear city / country divide during the pandemic, with Australian capitals spending much more time in lockdown than rural areas and many cities having multiple lockdowns. Blockages impacted regular attendance at a church or place of worship up 4.1% points to 20.9% in capitals while remaining unchanged at 15.5% in rural areas .

By state, the strong increases were in NSW (up 4.1% points to 21.2%), WA (up 6.6% points to 21%) and Tasmania (up 6 , 1% points to 17.2%). The exception to these trends was Victoria where regular church or place of worship attendance fell from 0.2% to 17.3%.

“While the blockades resulted in attendance in other states and capitals, the extent of the blockades in Victoria, and in particular the long second blockade in late 2020, prevented the increase in attendance seen elsewhere.

“The trends during the pandemic are clear, but now that we are entering a ‘COVID-normal’ period with high vaccination rates and COVID is rampant in the community, it will be interesting to see if church attendance or in one place of worship continues to rise or return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming months. “

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