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Religious Responses to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic presents 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 can 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 evolving online resource repository, the project draws 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 particularly focuses on communities that are in especially vulnerable positions, such as refugee and forced migrant populations. The project, much like the COVID crisis itself, is constantly evolving, and we are adapting it to our new realities and rhythms. Based on a survey of users after the first 100 days of the project, we will maintain and modify the resource repository, continue to hold events on a roughly bi-weekly basis, and share weekly updates that focus on faith responses to humanitarian and development challenges across the world. Read more about our developing plans for the project and sign up for the weekly emails.

A tourist protected by a medical mask in the square of St. Peter's Basilica, closed to visitors due to COVID-19.


Katherine Marshall headshot

Katherine Marshall

Senior Fellow
Walsh School of Foreign Service, Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue

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One-Year Retrospective



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