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Brussels, April 9, 2020 (The Christian Post / The Tablet). According to a European research paper, Google searches for "prayer" have surged worldwide in step with the surge of emerging cases of COVID-19.
Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and executive director of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture, released a preliminary draft of a paper on Monday titled "In Crisis, We Pray: Religiosity and the COVID-19 Pandemic."
Using Google Trends data on internet searches for "prayer" for five countries, she said she found that search intensity for "prayer" doubles for every 80,000 new registered cases of COVID-19. The intensity also rises in countries that have only recently been hit by the pandemic themselves.
The rising interest in seeking information about "prayer" on Google skyrocketed during March 2020 when COVID-19 went global.
"Internet searches for prayer surged to the highest level during the past five years for which comparative Google search data is available, surpassing all other major events that otherwise instigate intensified demand for prayer, such as Christmas, Easter, and Ramadan", she reported.
In response to Bentzen's paper, some researchers cautioned against her assumption that an increased share of Google searches for religious terms thus reveals an increased demand for religion. In their opinion, the data only proved that more people were googling "prayer" and, without knowing people's motives or background, it was not necessarily evidence of an increase in religiosity.