Post-COVID, what’s the role of religion?

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International researchers in four countries of the "Global North," including Canada, are looking into how majority and majority faiths are dealing with life after the pandemic.

An international research project led by Queen’s University Belfast, in Northern Ireland, and involving Université de Montréal will study and compare the changing role of majority and minority religions in ‘global north’ contexts: Canada, Germany, Ireland/Northern Ireland (UK), and Poland, as these societies emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The collaborative research project will analyse factors that affect how religious actors have framed issues of health, illness and science; how relationships between religion and the state have been transformed in the context of the pandemic; and whether or how religious adaptations to the digital world have taken account of inclusion and other ethical issues.

"This project came about as a result of a special issue of the journal Religions that I co-edited," said Solange Lefebvre, UdeM’s chair in the management of cultural and religious diversity and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. “Gladys Ganiel, of Queen’s, also contributed to this special issue, which highlights the major research challenges we will face in the years to come."

A reader in sociology at the School of Social Sciences Education and Social Work, and a fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Ganiel  is the lead principal investigator on the three-year research project entitled ‘The Changing Role of Religion in Societies Emerging from COVID-19.’

Other research partners include professors Kerstin Radde-Antweiler of University of Bremen (Germany) and Slawomir Mandes of University of Warsaw (Poland).

 “The Covid-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst for religious change across societies, with the role of religion taking on renewed significance in many societies, including those experiencing secularisation,” said Ganiel.

“This new study will seek to discover how various religions are contributing to the building of more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable societies as we emerge from the pandemic.”

The research team will use a variety of methods including surveys, interviews, and analyses of media material and content produced by various church leaderships to gather information and analyze their results.

The project is funded through the Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP) for the Social Sciences and Humanities, a collaboration between humanities and social science research funders from South America, North America and Europe.

It was one of 19 awards made under T-AP’s ‘Recovery, Renewal and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World’ programme

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