Survey says American’s faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic
By David Fleet
Pastor Ben Gonzales was tested.
On March 24, the 39 year-old pastor of the First Baptist Church of Goodrich, 6116 S. State Road, was diagnosed and received treatment for the coronavirus at Ascension Genesys Hospital, Grand Blanc.
“I was never afraid,” said Gonzales, who has served at the church for about three years. “I knew I had the coronavirus. God gave me peace—it’s in his hands.”
Gonzales recovered and reflected on the year long world-wide pandemic.
“One of the signs of genuine Christian faith is how it responds when it is tested,” he said. “If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that testing will come. Each and every one of us has been tested in our own unique way. Our response to sickness, mandates, unrest and confusion says a lot about where our faith lies.”
The message Gonzales offers parallels is a 2020 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center American Trends Panel which studied how U.S. adults’ religious faith may be changing and how houses of worship are adapting amid the coronavirus outbreak. The survey was of 10,139 U.S. adults from April 20 to 26, 2020.
According to the survey, one-quarter of U.S. adults overall 24 percent say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 2 percent say their faith has become weaker. The majority say their faith hasn’t changed much (47 percent) or that the question isn’t applicable because they were not religious to begin with (26 percent).
“It is through testing that our faith is made strong,” he said. “Of course it is not because of anything I’ve done, but because of everything God has done for me.”
Pastor Jon Grimshaw of the Lakeview Community Church, 10023 S State Road, Goodrich, also supports the Pew Research.
“The people in the Pew Research survey who indicated a growing faith during this pandemic have discovered that truth and they’ve experienced it for themselves,” said Grimshaw. “They know that faith can’t be taken from you. It can’t be legislated away, scared out of you, or canceled. And it certainly isn’t susceptible to a virus. They’ve persevered, knowing that their faith in God will not only get them through, but it will grow even stronger in the process.”
“Extreme circumstances, like war, political oppression, financial calamity – a pandemic – reveal how fragile our existence is in this world, and they help us see more clearly what is truly important,” he said. “When experts don’t have answers, when those in authority can’t agree on a way forward, when our relationships are limited by imposed restrictions, what do we do? When we lose loved ones to an invisible, merciless virus, how do we process our own mortality? I believe we were all created to recognize our own limitations, and our hearts are designed to seek out our Creator in our search for answers.”