WMU studying religious response to COVID

Researchers are collating data on how religious people and institutions are handling the coronavirus.

Researchers at Western Michigan University are engaged in a project to record how religious communities throughout the country are responding to the threat of COVID-19.

“History needs to be taught in order for society to be more prepared in future crises,” said Dr. Stephen Covell, the chair of the comparative religion department at WMU. He is leading the project along with Faculty Specialist Dr. Diane Riggs.

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The group are collecting news stories, social media posts, official documents, and recorded presentations, among other things. The goal is to catalog it all for future study.

Though they are still collecting data, the researchers are noticing some interesting effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have seen a trend in the tension between religion and government,” said Covell.

A few religious groups are openly defying state orders and federal guidance on things like social distancing and mask wearing.

“A trend we have found with religious groups who still hold large gatherings is their belief in protection through prayer,” said Covell.

Covell expects the data to be in a publicly-available and searchable format via WMU’s Scholarworks database by August.

You can read more at WMU News.

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