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Online Opportunities in Secularizing Societies? Clergy and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1LP, UK
Academic Editors: Roberta Ricucci and Solange Lefebvre
Religions 2021, 12(6), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060437
Received: 9 April 2021 / Revised: 25 May 2021 / Accepted: 5 June 2021 / Published: 11 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
This article explores how Christian clergy in Ireland have framed their adoption of online ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic as opportunities for the churches to retain some significance, even in secularizing societies. It is based on an island-wide survey of 439 faith leaders and 32 in-depth, follow-up interviews. The results of this study are analysed in light of scholarship in three areas: (1) secularization in Ireland, informed by Norris and Inglehart’s evolutionary modernization theory; (2) cross-national research that has found increasing interest in spirituality or religion during the pandemic (with the UK as the main point of comparison); and (3) wider pre-pandemic scholarship on digital religion. The article concludes by arguing that the clergy’s framing of online ministries as opportunities is important: if they regard online ministries as potential sites of religious revitalization, they are more likely to invest in them. There is some evidence that they may be assisted in this by lay volunteers. However, given the secularization already underway, it remains to be seen whether an embrace of blended online and in-person religion will have far-reaching impacts on Ireland’s religious landscape. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; digital religion; religion online; Ireland; Northern Ireland; secularization; revitalization; clergy; United Kingdom COVID-19 pandemic; digital religion; religion online; Ireland; Northern Ireland; secularization; revitalization; clergy; United Kingdom
MDPI and ACS Style

Ganiel, G. Online Opportunities in Secularizing Societies? Clergy and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland. Religions 2021, 12, 437. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060437

AMA Style

Ganiel G. Online Opportunities in Secularizing Societies? Clergy and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland. Religions. 2021; 12(6):437. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060437

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ganiel, Gladys. 2021. "Online Opportunities in Secularizing Societies? Clergy and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland" Religions 12, no. 6: 437. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060437

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