View this email in your browser
COVID-19: Exploring Faith Dimensions
Religious Coping, Holidays Hampered, and Rituals Shifting in the Continued Fight Against COVID-19

As many of us around the world begin to enter holiday seasons, public health and government officials are ramping up their recommendations for celebrating safely this year. Dr. Anthony Fauci and the National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins held a discussion at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, on November 12 emphasizing the health risks of gathering with loved ones for the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday. Dr. Fauci implored people and their families to do a risk assessment and consider age, underlying conditions, travel, and testing for people wishing to gather in person.
Diwali was celebrated by many Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains across the world on November 14. This “festival of lights” celebration is often celebrated for 5 days in India and marked by firework displays and parties. However, because of pandemic restrictions, many gatherings were halted, and public officials urged people to stay at home and light candles for COVID victims.
Ancient religious rituals like burial rites continue to shift and evolve due to the pandemic. For those of the Jewish and Islamic faiths, funerals have been particularly difficult as many burial and purification rituals involve physical contact with the deceased. Many funeral homes and places of worship have banned purification practices due to spread of contagion, but it has left many followers with feelings of guilt due to their inability to carry out certain rituals. The CDC recommends no contact with the deceased body of a COVID-19 victim due to lack of knowledge around transmission from the deceased. Yasir Qadhi, dean of academic affairs at the Islamic Seminary of America in Dallas, has urged followers to adhere to new guidance saying, "We believe that God forgives you for whatever you are not able to do, if the government is asking you not to wash deceased bodies, as psychologically painful as that might be; it will not affect the deceased."
Encouraging new findings from the Journal of Positive Psychology entitled “Hope and Well-being in Vulnerable Contexts During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Does Religious Coping Matter?” found that positive religious coping may serve as a protective resource that supports well-being during the pandemic. Hope and coping responses (religious or otherwise) are likely to be a resource for promoting positive adjustments in the post-COVID world, particularly in vulnerable contexts where psychosocial mechanisms are integral to accelerate the recovery process.

In Latin American Christian communities, many worry that misinformation is rapidly spreading due to independent Christian media channels amplifying false narratives about the pandemic. Many Christian outlets work closely with religious leaders in sharing one another’s content to “maintain a media ecosystem editorially independent from the secular press that might otherwise weed out misinformation narratives.” Reports of religious leaders espousing misinformation vary from encouraging the use of bleach to combat the virus to reporting on a hail storm in China where the ice was shaped like the virus molecule. The article ends on a more hopeful note, highlighting a sentiment shared by the collaborators (here and here) of this COVID-19 faith repository. While faith communities can be a vector for misinformation, they are also crucial in combating it. If faith leaders actively address misinformation and promote health guidelines they could have an important ripple effect throughout the community they serve.

Help Spread the Word
Share the sign-up form for the weekly highlights:

Share the resource repository:

If you have news articles, guides, or other relevant resources you wish to share with us for review please email We are particularly interested in learning more about groups facing acute vulnerabilities (refugees, elderly, those impacted by the digital divide, in fragile states, etc.). Please send us any information you see.
Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs
3307 M Street NW, Suite 200︱Washington, DC 20007

You are receiving this email because you are subscribed to the
COVID-19: Exploring Faith Dimensions mailing list.
update your preferences I unsubscribe from this list | View this email in your browser

Copyright © 2020 Georgetown University. 
All rights reserved.