Special Issue "The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic"

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2021) | Viewed by 35005

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Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Adelaide Madera
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Law, University Of Messina, 98122 Messina, Italy
Interests: canon law; law and religion

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The so-called lockdown, imposed to restrain (or at least limit) the spread of COVID-19, had an overwhelming impact not only on our personal lives, but also on the exercise of religious freedom, which suffered unprecedented restrictions. Legal systems responded individually, and with differences, to the pandemic emergency, ranging from a complete interruption of the collective exercise of religious worship to a more cautious recognition of forms of religious accommodation.

This Special Issue aims to compare the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the exercise of religious freedom in different legal contexts, and to investigate how the pandemic crisis emphasized underlying judicial, political, socio-cultural, ethnic and economic challenges, giving rise to a tension between competing rights and exacerbating the tension between public religiously-neutral policies and claims for religious accommodation. Papers should examine: different legal responses to the health crisis, in terms of restrictions to the exercise of religious freedom, even in a comparative perspective; reactions of religious groups, in terms of opposition or cooperation, and ability of religious leaders to provide guidance and support to their faith communities; specific impact of restrictions on some religious communities and increase of religious discrimination against disliked faith-communities in specific geographical contexts.

The Special Issue aims to show that the interaction between religious law and secular law is a complex matter, and it will supplement the existing literature emphasizing the transversal vocation of the study of the management of religious diversity and its scope of operations.

Actually, its analysis only in terms of church state relationships would be incomplete: for this reason the Special Issue welcomes contributions which offer a serious investigation involving deep sociological, historical, political, and religious studies perspectives.

Prof. Adelaide Madera
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Health crisis
  • Exercise of religious freedom
  • Religious communities
  • Religious leaders
  • Discrimination

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
The Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Religious Exercise: Preliminary Remarks
Laws 2021, 10(2), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10020044 - 02 Jun 2021
Viewed by 2973
Abstract
Since 2020, the spread of COVID-19 has had an overwhelming impact not only on our personal lives, but also on domestic regulatory frameworks. Influential academics have strongly underlined that, in times of deep crisis, such as the current global health crisis, the long-term [...] Read more.
Since 2020, the spread of COVID-19 has had an overwhelming impact not only on our personal lives, but also on domestic regulatory frameworks. Influential academics have strongly underlined that, in times of deep crisis, such as the current global health crisis, the long-term workability of legal systems is put to a severe test. In this period, in fact, the protection of health has been given priority, as a precondition that is orientating many current legal choices. Such an unprecedented health emergency has also raised a serious challenge in terms of fundamental rights and liberties. Several basic rights that normally enjoy robust protection under constitutional, supranational, and international guarantees, have experienced a devastating “suspension” for the sake of public health and safety, thus giving rise to a vigorous debate concerning whether and to what extent the pandemic emergency justifies limitations on fundamental rights. The present paper introduces the Special Issue on “The crisis of the religious freedom during the age of COVID-19 pandemic”. Taking as a starting point the valuable contributions of the participants in the Special Issue, it explores analogous and distinctive implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in different legal contexts and underlines the relevance of cooperation between religious and public actors to face a global health crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
The Impact of the Church–State Model for an Effective Guarantee of Religious Freedom: A Study of the Peruvian Experience during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Laws 2021, 10(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10020040 - 19 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2717
Abstract
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments established important restrictions on religious freedom. Due to a restrictive interpretation of the right to religious freedom, religion was placed in the category of “non-essential activity” and was, therefore, unprotected. Within this framework, this paper tries to [...] Read more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments established important restrictions on religious freedom. Due to a restrictive interpretation of the right to religious freedom, religion was placed in the category of “non-essential activity” and was, therefore, unprotected. Within this framework, this paper tries to offer a reflection on the relevance of the dual nature of religious freedom as an individual and collective right, since the current crisis has made it clear that the individual dimension of religious freedom is vulnerable when the legal model does not offer an adequate institutional guarantee to the collective dimension of religious freedom. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Some Comparative Perspectives
Laws 2021, 10(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10020039 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3212
Abstract
The government’s measures against COVID-19 have raised, in virtually all contemporary democracies, important issues regarding the proportionality of limitations on fundamental rights, including freedom of religion or belief. This paper analyses some of those issues with particular reference to religious freedom, in the [...] Read more.
The government’s measures against COVID-19 have raised, in virtually all contemporary democracies, important issues regarding the proportionality of limitations on fundamental rights, including freedom of religion or belief. This paper analyses some of those issues with particular reference to religious freedom, in the light of the experiences of various European and American countries. It also examines the cooperation (or lack of) between governments and religious communities in the fight against the pandemic, as well the response of religious communities to anti-COVID-19 rules, which has included recently some litigation alleging the unequal treatment of religion in comparison with other activities or institutions. The author argues that more dialogue and reciprocal cooperation between governments and religious communities (and civil society in general) is needed in this type of crisis, as well a strict scrutiny of restrictions imposed on freedom of religion from the perspective of proportionality and equality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
Zimitsani Moto: Understanding the Malawi COVID-19 Response
Laws 2021, 10(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10020020 - 26 Mar 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2938
Abstract
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has unsettled societies and economies of people and countries all over the world. Malawi is no exception. As such, the COVID-19 pandemic is more than just a health crisis. Countries have responded by instituting lockdowns and other [...] Read more.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has unsettled societies and economies of people and countries all over the world. Malawi is no exception. As such, the COVID-19 pandemic is more than just a health crisis. Countries have responded by instituting lockdowns and other restrictive measures among the populace. These have, in turn, elicited negative responses and legal challenges; most of which are rights-based. The main challenge has been that of the restriction of individual and religious freedoms. It is, thus, no surprise that reactions against government decrees restricting religious gatherings in the wake of the pandemic have been challenged in the courts. We will explore the Malawian traditional religious concept of healing and wholeness, give a chronological outline of government decrees and the responses to the pandemic, and conclude with an analysis using some reflections on Ferdinand Tönnies concepts of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft and recollection of traditional religion and critique of the new evangelicalism leading to an understanding of the Malawian response to the pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
Protecting the Rights of Minorities under International Law and Implications of COVID-19: An Overview of the Indian Context
Laws 2021, 10(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10010017 - 23 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2915
Abstract
The concept of majority rule and respect for minority rights is demonstrated in several constitutions of the world. Oppression by the majority of the minority is barred by articles of these respective constitutions. Today, democracy is mostly a method of government of the [...] Read more.
The concept of majority rule and respect for minority rights is demonstrated in several constitutions of the world. Oppression by the majority of the minority is barred by articles of these respective constitutions. Today, democracy is mostly a method of government of the people that is ruled by the people. The issue of minority rights is at the center of the concept of civic rights. Minority protection, thus, operates on the hypothesis that religious, cultural, and linguistic affiliations are essential features of the very notion of a civic, just society. This paper offers an alternative account of why minority rights have international significance and more information on the value of an international, socially just process for the allocation of resources by states. By this approach, international minority rights speak to the wrongs that international law itself produces by organizing international political reality into a legal order. This article focuses on the uncertain effect of religious autonomy in India and the outcome of democracy in the country. While the Indian constitution guarantees autonomy to its religious minorities and promises minorities their freedoms, Indian democracy, which was once considered remarkable in scale and duration, has been weakened by the rise of xenophobic nationalism and threats to religious minorities. Even the safety and religious freedom of minorities have been compromised during COVID-19. In the last few decades, these trends have been clear; however, they have dramatically increased in the last few years, and the administration has turned a blind eye. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
Freedom of Worship during a Public Health State of Emergency in France
Laws 2021, 10(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10010015 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2509
Abstract
This paper analyses three key decisions issued by the French State Council in 2020 following emergency proceedings concerning the impact of pandemic-related measures on the freedom of worship. The Council interestingly recalls that the freedom of worship is a fundamental freedom, but shows, [...] Read more.
This paper analyses three key decisions issued by the French State Council in 2020 following emergency proceedings concerning the impact of pandemic-related measures on the freedom of worship. The Council interestingly recalls that the freedom of worship is a fundamental freedom, but shows, too, how it is influenced by circumstances when determining whether the measures limiting the freedom to practice one’s religion are proportionate to the goal of protecting public health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
The Right of Religious Freedom in Light of the Coronavirus Pandemic: The Greek Case
Laws 2021, 10(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10010014 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2804
Abstract
The purpose of this article is to take into consideration the impact of unprecedented restrictions due to COVID-19 on the exercise of religious freedom according to the Greek legislation and case-law. The crucial fact to be examined is the proportionality of the exceptional [...] Read more.
The purpose of this article is to take into consideration the impact of unprecedented restrictions due to COVID-19 on the exercise of religious freedom according to the Greek legislation and case-law. The crucial fact to be examined is the proportionality of the exceptional measures of the Greek State. At the beginning of the pandemic, religious ceremonies were allowed only in the presence of clerics, but nowadays they are permitted on the condition that the measures of “social distancing” are being followed strictly. As it is generally accepted, the Greek State managed to deal with the pandemic without deviations from constitutional order and protection of fundamental rights, in accordance with a “pressing social need”. In this context, the case-law of the Greek courts is of great importance, which ruled that the above mentioned restrictions did not offend the principle of proportionality, especially because of their temporary and short-term character. Nevertheless, these restrictive measures must be revised from time to time, considering the updated, epidemiological data in order to be selected the most appropriate and less stringent on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, these judgments do not give government a blank cheque regarding the management of the pandemic, but rather provide them with a clear framework which is able to guarantee the measures’ accordance with the Greek Constitution. However, the potential risk that people may become used to the restrictions imposed after the crisis has passed must not be overlooked. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
Immunizing the Flock: How the Pandemic Court Rewrote Religious Freedom
Laws 2021, 10(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10010012 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2781
Abstract
When coronavirus began to descend upon the United States, religious freedom advocates across the country sounded the alarm that citizens’ religious practices and institutions were under threat. Although some of the most extreme arguments championed by these advocates were not validated by our [...] Read more.
When coronavirus began to descend upon the United States, religious freedom advocates across the country sounded the alarm that citizens’ religious practices and institutions were under threat. Although some of the most extreme arguments championed by these advocates were not validated by our legal system, many were. This article explores the underappreciated gains made by religious freedom advocates before the U.S. Supreme Court over the past year. As a result of the “Pandemic Court”, religious freedom in the United States has been rewritten. This promises to radically change the educational, employment, and health prospects of millions of Americans for the rest of the pandemic and long afterwards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
The Constitutionality of Providing Public Funds for U.S. Houses of Worship during the Coronavirus
Laws 2021, 10(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10010008 - 30 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2552
Abstract
U.S. constitutional jurisprudence precludes the direct government funding of religious activity. At the same time, the jurisprudence surrounding the U.S. First Amendment Religion Clauses has evolved to support the general inclusion of religious entities in programs through which a government advances some overarching [...] Read more.
U.S. constitutional jurisprudence precludes the direct government funding of religious activity. At the same time, the jurisprudence surrounding the U.S. First Amendment Religion Clauses has evolved to support the general inclusion of religious entities in programs through which a government advances some overarching public interest, such as health care or social services, but does not involve the Government in advancing religion per se. Moreover, the most recent U.S. Supreme Court cases hold that it is a violation of the First Amendment to exclude a religious actor, solely because it is religious, from a general public program and funding on equal terms with secular actors. Pandemic relief from the federal government has been made available to houses of worship (churches, mosques, synagogues, etc.) to mitigate the economic impact of government lockdown orders and public health restrictions on assembly, by offsetting loss of revenue and avoiding the suspension or termination of employees. The extension of such relief sits precisely at the crossroads of debated legal questions about whether such assistance is aid to religion—prohibited—or neutral disaster relief on equal terms with other community-serving entities—permitted. This article concludes that the inclusion of houses of worship is constitutional, given the trend and direction of U.S. law, although the matter will continue to be debated as the effects of the pandemic recede. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
Donald Trump, the Christian Right and COVID-19: The Politics of Religious Freedom
Laws 2021, 10(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws10010006 - 30 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4441
Abstract
This paper examines the issue of religious freedom in the USA during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020–2021, during the presidency of Donald Trump (2017–2021). It contends that the ability of state governors to close religious places of worship illustrates both the limits on [...] Read more.
This paper examines the issue of religious freedom in the USA during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020–2021, during the presidency of Donald Trump (2017–2021). It contends that the ability of state governors to close religious places of worship illustrates both the limits on the power of the president and that public health can take supremacy over religious freedom in today’s America. The paper is organised as follows: first, we identify the importance of religious freedom for the more than 20 million Americans who self-classify as Christian evangelicals. Second, we assess the transactional importance that President Trump placed on Christian evangelicals’ religious freedom. Third, we look at one kind of Christian evangelicals—that is, Christian nationalists—to see how they regarded restrictions on their religious behaviour caused by COVID-19. Fourth, we briefly examine several recent legal cases brought against the governors of California and Illinois by the Liberty Counsel, the leading Christian evangelical legal firm in the USA. Led by Matthew Staver, Dean of the Liberty University Law School, Liberty Counsel regularly represents Christian nationalists who challenge state-imposed restrictions on religious gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
Coronavirus and the Curtailment of Religious Liberty
Laws 2020, 9(4), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws9040027 - 26 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2965
Abstract
Even public health emergencies must be handled within the framework of the rule of law. The alternative is social chaos. Every nation on earth has been touched by the impact of COVID-19, a deadly pandemic that has changed—perhaps permanently—the manner in which we [...] Read more.
Even public health emergencies must be handled within the framework of the rule of law. The alternative is social chaos. Every nation on earth has been touched by the impact of COVID-19, a deadly pandemic that has changed—perhaps permanently—the manner in which we are governed and live our daily lives. This paper addresses the effect of the State’s response to the threat of Coronavirus upon the enjoyment of religious liberty, both directly and indirectly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic)
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