Online church services reduce ‘sense of loneliness,’ says Baker Institute expert


Jeff Falk

Online church services reduce ‘sense of loneliness,’ says Baker Institute expert

HOUSTON – (March 23, 2020) – With local and state government officials restricting large public gatherings and President Trump urging Americans to limit their gatherings to fewer than 10 people during the novel coronavirus outbreak, houses of worship all over the country are streaming services online.

Credit: University

Even a reduced service can ease “the sense of loneliness,” said William Martin, the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Senior Fellow in Religion and Public Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Streaming services “reduces the sense of ‘this is a strange, strange time'” by reassuring worshippers that “there are people still taking care of us. We’re still part of a community.”

Martin is available to talk about faith in the time of the coronavirus with news media.

To schedule an interview with Martin or for more information, contact Jeff Falk, director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.


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Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks as the No. 2 university-affiliated think tank in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.