by Harriet Sherwood, The UK Guardian Newspaper, May 5, 2020.
A quarter of adults in the UK have watched or listened to a religious service since the coronavirus lockdown began, and one in 20 have started praying during the crisis, according to a new survey.
The findings of the poll reinforce indications of an increase in the numbers of people turning to faith for succour amid uncertainty and despair.
The Church of England has said that unexpectedly high numbers of people are tuning into online or broadcast services, and 6,000 people phoned a prayer hotline in its first 48 hours of operation. Other faiths have also reported surges in people engaging with online religious activities as places of worship have been closed during the lockdown.
The survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the Christian aid agency Tearfund and carried out last weekend, found that a third of young adults aged between 18 and 34 had watched or listened to an online or broadcast religious service, compared with one in five adults over the age of 55.
One in five of those who have tuned into services in the past few weeks say they have never gone to church.
The most frequent subjects of prayers since the lockdown has been family (53%), friends (34%), thanking God (24%), the person praying (28%), frontline services (27%), someone unwell with Covid-19 (20%), and other countries with Covid-19 (15%).
A separate poll, commissioned by Christian Aid, found that The Vicar of Dibley, the Rev Geraldine Granger, the BBC TV character played by Dawn French, would be the public’s choice of screen priest to lead the UK through the coronavirus crisis. In second place was Sister Evangelina, played by Pam Ferris, from Call the Midwife … with Father Ted Crilly, played by Dermot Morgan, from Father Ted taking third place.