Special Issue "Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2021) | Viewed by 11821

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Solange Lefebvre
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Montreal, Montréal, QC H3T 1P1, Canada
2. Research Center on religions and spiritualities, University of Montreal, Montréal, QC H3T 1P1, Canada
Interests: diversity; religious heritage; politics; youth and generations; sociology and anthropology
Dr. Roberta Ricucci
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Cultures, Politics and Society, University of Turin, 10100 Turin, Italy
Interests: migration; Muslim in western countries; religion; identity
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Issue on cultural and religious diversity is intended to mobilize knowledge and experiences in relation to the coronavirus pandemic on a global level, from an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary perspective. It will reflect on the way individuals, groups, and nations are addressing the crisis from non-religious or religious perspectives. Articles could offer empirical data (history, interviews, media analysis, contextual analysis) or theoretical analysis. We hope to receive proposals from many countries and in multiple disciplines. Historical as well as contemporary perspectives are welcome. Potential themes are as follows:

1) Creating meaning

How are nones, religious individuals and groups, and science making sense of the pandemic? What kind of rituals are being created to get through these difficult times? How is death ritualized and understood? How are employees who are risking their lives to save others reflecting about their involvement? What about fear, sickness, suffering, arts, and faith in the future?

2) Innovations, imagination, and conflicts

How are religions celebrating or communicating virtually? What are the contributions of religions during the crisis? How are nones and religions uniting around the same fight? How are some fundamentalists resisting the recommendations of authorities? What kind of intergenerational relations and critical discourses are emerging from the crisis?

3) Apocalyptic and conspiracy theory viewpoints

What kind of apocalyptic and conspiracy theorist views are circulating? How are relationships between science, health, and religions/nonreligion being developed?

4) Changes in perception of religious institutions

How are religious people and nones perceiving religious institutions during this time? How are their decisions and involvement in helping people being evaluated? To what extent is new media being used successfully by religious leaders, and what lessons can be learned from this for the future?

5) Other major themes

What does the crisis say about globalization, economy, the environment, animals, and humans?

The deadline for submitting proposals is 9 October 2020. Proposals should be sent to guest editors via email, Lefebvre Solange <[email protected]> or Roberta Ricucci <[email protected]>. The deadline for final manuscript submissions is 31 March 2021.

Prof. Dr. Solange Lefebvre
Prof. Dr. Roberta Ricucci
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • pandemic
  • making sense
  • religious innovations
  • fundamentalism
  • nones
  • globalization
  • health/science and religion
  • environment
  • online religion

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Article
Stop the Spread: Gossip, COVID-19, and the Theology of Social Life
Religions 2021, 12(12), 1037; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12121037 - 24 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1069
Abstract
Scholars, journalists, and activists alike have offered a variety of explanations to understand the high incidence of COVID-19 among Haredi Jewish communities in the United States and abroad. Despite their differences, each assumes that Haredi Jews are inherently collectivistic. This article challenges this [...] Read more.
Scholars, journalists, and activists alike have offered a variety of explanations to understand the high incidence of COVID-19 among Haredi Jewish communities in the United States and abroad. Despite their differences, each assumes that Haredi Jews are inherently collectivistic. This article challenges this assumption and contends that COVID-19 has amplified pre-existing anxieties about the lack of proper social cohesion and solidarity within Haredi Jewish communities. It analyzes these dynamics through “Stop the Spread”, a Haredi “anti-gossip” campaign that links the ill health of social relations within the Haredi Jewish body politic to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 within its communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
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Article
Experts in Self-Isolation? Monastic Outreach during Lockdown
Religions 2021, 12(10), 814; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100814 - 27 Sep 2021
Viewed by 713
Abstract
This paper draws on digital ethnography to examine the experience of a Catholic English Benedictine monastery in the context of restrictions on religious gatherings during the global COVID-19 pandemic. As the monks expand their digital presence and social media involvement, it is their [...] Read more.
This paper draws on digital ethnography to examine the experience of a Catholic English Benedictine monastery in the context of restrictions on religious gatherings during the global COVID-19 pandemic. As the monks expand their digital presence and social media involvement, it is their experience of social withdrawal and apparent expertise in self-isolation that provides the grounding for their public engagement. While Max Weber depicts the monk as a world-transcending “virtuoso”, in a time of lockdown, this separation from the world provides a point of connection with the experience of wider society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
Article
“It’s Not Doctrine, This Is Just How It Is Happening!”: Religious Creativity in the Time of COVID-19
Religions 2021, 12(9), 747; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090747 - 10 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1190
Abstract
Drawing on thirty in-depth interviews with faith leaders in the UK (including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Sikhism), we examine the diverse ways religious groups reorient religious life during COVID-19. Analysing the shift to virtual and home-based worship, we show the creative ways [...] Read more.
Drawing on thirty in-depth interviews with faith leaders in the UK (including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Sikhism), we examine the diverse ways religious groups reorient religious life during COVID-19. Analysing the shift to virtual and home-based worship, we show the creative ways religious communities altered their customs, rituals, and practices to fit a new virtual reality amidst rigid social distancing guidelines. This study offers a distinctive comparative perspective into religious creativity amidst acute social change, allowing us to showcase notable differences, especially in terms of the possibility to fully perform worship online. We found that whilst all faith communities faced the same challenge of ministering and supporting their communities online, some were able to deliver services and perform worship online but others, for theological reasons, could not offer communal prayer. These differences existed within each religion rather than across religious boundaries, representing intra-faith divergence at the same time as cross-faith convergence. This analysis allows us to go beyond common socio-religious categories of religion, while showcasing the diverse forms of religious life amidst COVID-19. This study also offers a diverse case study of the relationship between religions as well as between religion, state, and society amidst COVID-19. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
Article
Study of the Changing Relationship between Religion and the Digital Continent—In the Context of a COVID-19 Pandemic
Religions 2021, 12(9), 736; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090736 - 08 Sep 2021
Viewed by 806
Abstract
This article proposes to study the changing relationship between religion and the digital continent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To achieve this objective, the paper is divided into three parts. First, it offers an overview of the connection between religion and [...] Read more.
This article proposes to study the changing relationship between religion and the digital continent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To achieve this objective, the paper is divided into three parts. First, it offers an overview of the connection between religion and the digital environment, outlining four possible paradigms of the open relationship between these two worlds. Second, the article discusses the research project undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic on behalf of the Corporation of Thanatologists of Quebec, focusing on the relationship between delayed funerals and delayed grief. In particular, this article deals with one of the solutions proposed to thanatologists, i.e., the development of a culture of bimodal ritual, both in person and remote, and therefore partly digital. Using this solution as a pointer, religion’s shift toward digital technology in the COVID-19 period is analyzed in the third part of the article. To this end, the four paradigms drawn from the overview are set against the research focus areas resulting from the solution proposed to the Corporation of Thanatologists. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
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Article
Worldviews Complexity in COVID-19 Times: Australian Media Representations of Religion, Spirituality and Non-Religion in 2020
Religions 2021, 12(9), 682; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090682 - 26 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1259
Abstract
In 2020, as infections of COVID-19 began to rise, Australia, alongside many other nations, closed its international borders and implemented lockdown measures across the country. The city of Melbourne was hardest hit during the pandemic and experienced the strictest and longest lockdown worldwide. [...] Read more.
In 2020, as infections of COVID-19 began to rise, Australia, alongside many other nations, closed its international borders and implemented lockdown measures across the country. The city of Melbourne was hardest hit during the pandemic and experienced the strictest and longest lockdown worldwide. Religious and spiritual groups were especially affected, given the prohibition of gatherings of people for religious services and yoga classes with a spiritual orientation, for example. Fault lines in socio-economic differences were also pronounced, with low-wage and casual workers often from cultural and religious minorities being particularly vulnerable to the virus in their often precarious workplaces. In addition, some religious and spiritual individuals and groups did not comply and actively resisted restrictions at times. By contrast, the pandemic also resulted in a positive re-engagement with religion and spirituality, as lockdown measures served to accelerate a digital push with activities shifting to online platforms. Religious and spiritual efforts were initiated online and offline to promote wellbeing and to serve those most in need. This article presents an analysis of media representations of religious, spiritual and non-religious responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Melbourne, Australia, from January to August 2020, including two periods of lockdown. It applies a mixed-method quantitative and qualitative thematic approach, using targeted keywords identified in previous international and Australian media research. In so doing, it provides insights into Melbourne’s worldview complexity, and also of the changing place of religion, spirituality and non-religion in the Australian public sphere in COVID times. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
Article
‘When the Waves Roll High’: Religious Coping among the Amish and Mennonites during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Religions 2021, 12(9), 678; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090678 - 25 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1102
Abstract
Religious beliefs, practices, and social support facilitate coping with psychologically distressful events and circumstances. However, COVID-19 and governmental mandates for social distancing and isolation make in-person communal forms of religious coping difficult. While some congregations began holding virtual rituals, this was not an [...] Read more.
Religious beliefs, practices, and social support facilitate coping with psychologically distressful events and circumstances. However, COVID-19 and governmental mandates for social distancing and isolation make in-person communal forms of religious coping difficult. While some congregations began holding virtual rituals, this was not an option for Amish and conservative Mennonite groups that restrict communication and media technologies as a religious sacrament. Governmental mandates placed a disproportionate burden on these groups whose members could not conduct rituals or interact virtually with other members and family. What religious coping strategies did the Amish and Mennonites use to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic given their restricted ability to participate in in-person rituals? We collected data from The Budget and The Diary, two Amish and Mennonite correspondence newspapers, which provide information on the experiences of community members. We content analyzed all entries from March 2020 to April 2020 and identified several themes related to religious coping focused on the positive benefits of the pandemic, specifically how it helps and reminds the Amish and Mennonites to refocus on the simple and important things in life, including God, spirituality, family, tradition, gardening, and other at-home hobbies, all of which reflect their religious commitment to a slower pace of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
Article
The COVID-19 Pandemic as a Catalyst for Religious Polarization in Poland
Religions 2021, 12(8), 572; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080572 - 26 Jul 2021
Viewed by 942
Abstract
In theory, the coronavirus pandemic, with its wide-ranging implications for the functioning of societies around the world, cannot fail to have an impact on religiosity. We test whether this is really the case and investigate the scope and trend of changes in religious [...] Read more.
In theory, the coronavirus pandemic, with its wide-ranging implications for the functioning of societies around the world, cannot fail to have an impact on religiosity. We test whether this is really the case and investigate the scope and trend of changes in religious commitment using the example of Polish society. We make use of survey research conducted at various times on representative samples of Poles. Many studies have shown that in the face of destabilization and uncertainty, religious engagement gives hope and support, and therefore religiosity should be expected to increase during a pandemic. On the other hand, it can be assumed that a superficial and traditional religiosity, associated only with customary participation in Sunday religious practices, may weaken or even disappear when churches close. It emerges that both these phenomena can be observed in Polish society and, consequently, in the context of the pandemic, they are leading to religious polarization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
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Article
‘Forced’ Online Religion: Religious Minority and Majority Communities’ Media Usage during the COVID-19 Lockdown
Religions 2021, 12(7), 496; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070496 - 03 Jul 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1518
Abstract
On 11 March 2020, the Danish Prime Minister announced a forthcoming lockdown of Danish society due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shut down all public institutions, including the national church. Instructions for the lockdown of religious minority communities were issued a week later. [...] Read more.
On 11 March 2020, the Danish Prime Minister announced a forthcoming lockdown of Danish society due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shut down all public institutions, including the national church. Instructions for the lockdown of religious minority communities were issued a week later. The total lockdown of the Danish religious landscape is both historically unprecedented and radical in a global context, and it raises questions about mediatized religion and religion–state relations in a postsecular society. Building on quantitative and qualitative data collected during the lockdown and the gradual opening of society in 2020, this article examines the media usage of the Danish national church and of the 28 recognized Muslim communities. It reevaluates Heidi A. Campbell’s ‘religious-social shaping approach to technology’ by examining how religious communities sought to establish continuity between their offline and online practices to maintain authority and community cohesion. We conclude (1) that the willingness of religious communities to cooperate with authorities was high, (2) that the crisis affected religious communities’ organizational framework and societal position, and (3) that Campbell’s approach needs to pay further attention to the conflict-producing aspects of negotiations on digitalized rituals, the importance of transnationalism, and differences between minority and majority religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
Article
Online Opportunities in Secularizing Societies? Clergy and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland
Religions 2021, 12(6), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060437 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1600
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pandemic, Religion and Non-religion)
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