Posts Tagged ‘Volume 35 No. 6’

Religious revival or reversal emerging from the pandemic?

The unpredictable course of the coronavirus pandemic at this stage makes it difficult to know its long-term effects on religious institutions and communities. In the short-term, it’s obvious that the virus and the various social and political responses to it have rapidly reshuffled the communal practices of religious groups, most notably seen in the rapid adaptation and expansion of online services.

Religious gatherings spreading the faith and the coronavirus?

Due to the (mostly unintentional) role of some religious groups as super-propagators of the virus (along with secular types of gathering), religious meetings—especially large ones—are being seen as potential sources of trouble. When it comes to individual attitudes and practices toward social distancing, there is not a great difference between those from various religious and non-religious groups.

Culture wars intensify over easing restrictions on congregations in pandemic

Seemingly practical and public health issues such as lockdowns and decisions to ease restrictions on religious institutions during the coronavirus crisis have been enlisted into the protracted culture wars between religious conservatives and progressive and secular critics. The protests to open society back up during state-directed lockups does not have a large religious component.

Jewish home-based rituals adapting and changing during pandemic

American Jews are modifying long-standing rituals in the age of coronavirus and quarantines, when the community elements on which those traditions rely are out of reach, reports the online magazine Ozy (April 8, 2020). From home-based bar mitzvahs to online funerals, “We’ve broken every norm there is,” said Jonathan Jaffe, a Reform rabbi in suburban New York. The Rabbinical Assembly and the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has given their support to remote “minyans” — traditionally a quorum of at least 10 Jewish people who need to gather in order to pray.

Yoga’s psychological turn coincides with the isolation and stress of quarantine

Yoga has long adapted to different cultural contexts and situations, and the current pandemic is likely to accent those forms of yoga that relate to mental health and spiritual solace, writes Shreena Niketa Gandhi in the online religion magazine The Revealer (April 7, 2020). The speed at which yoga studios moved to offer virtual yoga sessions to fit this moment of social isolation is “reflective of the ever-changing nature of yoga,” she writes.

Religious left doldrums intensify even in resistance?

Claims of the resurgence of the religious left during the Trump presidency have circulated far and wide, but recent research suggests that any such religious-political revival is limited and that it is more the secular left that is showing the most vitality. In the journal Sociology of Religion (81:2), sociologists Joseph O. Baker and Gerardo Marti analyze data from the General Social Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute, and the National Congregations Study and find that not only is the constituency of the religious left shrinking but there also has been a disengagement in such political activity in the last decade.

Current Research

A new study of young adults finds that while they feel a strong sense of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, many report an increase of faith, with a fairly large number saying they are actually developing new religious practices. Scholarly studies of religion and the coronavirus pandemic will likely weigh down journals for years to come, but the few appearing so far have mainly been issued by research institutes and polling companies.

The Islamic State eyes renewal during coronavirus pandemic

For the Islamic State (IS), the coronavirus pandemic is a “godsend,” and an act of divine intervention at a time when the terrorist movement had reached its lowest ebb, reports Michael Knights in Poltico (April 4, 2020). He cites the IS’ newsletter, Al-Naba, which called coronavirus “God’s torment” upon the “Crusader nations,” and urged fighters to take advantage of the disruption caused by the virus.

Saudi influence transforming local Islam in Indonesia?

In recent decades, the role of Islam has become increasingly strong in Indonesia, and it has adopted more assertive views, in large part thanks to the flow of Saudi money and charities promoting Salafi interpretations of Islam in the country, writes Krithika Varagur in The Guardian (April 16, 2020). Initial efforts go back to the 1960s. The combination of aid and proselytization for a Saudi type of Islam has proved effective.

Findings & Footnotes

The April issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute features an interesting interchange between psychology, anthropology, and religion relating to how people experience the relationship between their minds and gods and spirits, using charismatic and Pentecostal congregations as its case studies.