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COVID-19: Exploring Faith Dimensions
Vaccination is Center Stage and Researchers Dig Deeper into Religion and COVID Details

As expected, vaccination continues to be a primary topic of discussion. A convening on December 18, 2020, hosted by the main collaborators in this project (JLI/WFDD/Berkley Center) focused on faith and COVID vaccines. Participants affirmed that it will be crucially important to engage faith actors in vaccine rollout, but collaboration and harmonization between key stakeholders will be important so that the groups are not duplicating each other’s efforts. The report of the session is now available online. Key recommendations include a concerted, consortium effort to bring together the various discussion groups that exist and to develop key messages around faith and the vaccines. 
Various news reports and op-eds have also highlighted intersections between vaccinations and religions, including op-eds urging co-religionists to be vaccinated as part of a moral obligation and intersections of health and race that underline why places such as churches might be more trusted locations for some communities to receive vaccinations, instead of hospitals and other medical institutions that are not trusted. Religious leaders that were skeptical of vaccines are increasingly advocating for them, called a “growing consensus” by AP last week.

Research continues apace, with one of the first (of many, presumably!) books on religion and COVID launching at the end of the last year, Virus, Humans, God: Inter-religious reflections on COVID-19, for now only available in Bahasa Indonesian. Reporting on various pieces of research in academic journals over the last few months, we’ve seen studies indicating that religious affiliation was tied to the spread of the virus in the Netherlands, religiosity correlated with COVID contagion and religious coping mechanisms in Italy, and that religion/spirituality was important to people during the pandemic in Poland, but that their religiosity had not increased. Research on Google searches in the early months of the pandemic reported that “More than half of the world population had prayed to end the coronavirus.
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