Religious Responses to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented major challenges in profound and still evolving ways, with high death tolls and extreme economic and social impacts worldwide. It also raises questions about how religious institutions, beliefs, leaders, and practices are contributing—positively and less positively—to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and response. Religious actors have large roles to play, particularly in addressing challenges centered on safe religious gatherings and adaptations of rituals, building trust, promoting effective communication and advocacy, and identifying and responding to the needs of communities. They are also critically involved in countering hate speech and misinformation and in addressing various conflicts, ranging from domestic to geopolitical, associated with the crisis. In this rapidly evolving situation, religious voices should be part of the broad policy exchange, based on an informed and nuanced understanding of developments.
In March 2020, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, the World Faiths Development Dialogue, and the Joint Learning Initiative launched a collaborative effort to explore the responses of religious actors to the COVID-19 pandemic and organize information so that it could be quickly found and used by development policymakers and practitioners and religious actors who seek to work together in the COVID-19 response. Through a series of events, publications, and the establishment of an online resource repository, the project has drawn upon the experience and insights of experts on global health and formal and informal religious leaders as the foundation for further strategic reflections towards a positive path ahead. It has particularly focused on communities that are in especially vulnerable positions, such as refugee and forced migrant populations.
As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, one that possesses less of an “emergency” status, the scope of the project will shift towards examining the long-term, more overarching impacts at the intersection of religion and COVID-19. Consequently, the project will offer less frequent updates; the resource repository will remain available for open access.