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Strengthened faith amid COVID: 35% of people say pandemic carries 'lesson from God'

Study: 28 percent of Americans say COVID-19 has strengthened their faith
People praying outside Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach
Posted at 2:25 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 18:40:22-04

What's the best defense to survive and thrive amid the pandemic?

Studies from Pew Research reveal religious faith has grown amid the pandemic. One survey shows roughly 30 percent of Americans have a stronger personal faith because of it.

SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus

It's midweek on the sidewalk outside Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach where ambulances are passing and a team of "prayer warriors" are praying.

They're an eclectic army that includes a cardiologist and evangelist, a cancer survivor, a filmmaker and a media executive still in mourning.

"COVID is real. And when you lose when of your best friends to it -- it's real, and it hurts," said Barry Alsobrook, CEO of The Active Kingdom Entertainment Network. "The virus, who it goes after. It can go after anybody."

And in response, Dr. Chauncey W. Crandall, a local cardiologist and evangelist is bringing what he calls the best defense against COVID to the sidewalks of four area hospitals across Palm Beach County on Friday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"To free these hospitals of these people who are sick and dying. Prayer is the weapon that I'm calling out this weekend," Dr. Crandall said. "We're praying for the patients, the health care workers, doctors, nurses, assistants, janitors, the aides -- all the medical staff. They all need our prayer."

Over the last year, studies from Pew Research reveal 28 percent of Americans say COVID-19 has strengthened their faith. The biggest increase has been among white evangelicals at 49 percent.

Data also shows more than a third of people believe the pandemic carries a lesson or lessons from God.

"Careers, money, fame -- none of [that] stuff means anything when you're lying in intensive care unit not knowing if you're ever going to see family again," said Todd Shoemaker, author and cancer survivor.

Clarity Health Solutions psychotherapist Jennifer Tomko isn't surprised by the data or the public displays of faith.

"It's empowering," Tomko said. "It creates purpose around everything that we're going through. It changes our thoughts and feelings around it all because it gives us an opportunity to feel like we're giving back to the people who are suffering. It's an expression of empathy."

Tomko also says oxytocin or the "love hormone" is released, which supports community building.

"It gives people that sense of grounding or that companionship you get through fellowship," she said.

Tim Popadic said it's a connection the country needs amid the COIVD-19 surge.

"This is something that we're going to get aggressive about," Popadic said. "What the community needs is for people to get activated in their faith and go and pray at hospitals."

The people behind this Friday's "Prayer for the City" are open to coming to you.

If you would like to request a visitation, text "prayer" to 855-932-3081 or click here.