Religious Responses to a Pandemic
Explanation, Compliance, and Defiance
Keywords:COVID-19, pandemic, religions, compliance, public health
During historic plagues some religious advocates attributed a plague to the actions of a deity, and this claim has also been applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most contemporary religious leaders and believers, however, accepted secular analysis of the pandemic, and complied, to varying degrees, with public health restrictions and remedies. But some religious leaders and groups defied these measures and had much higher rates of infections and deaths than the general population. Case studies of selected groups can expand our knowledge of these impacts and reactions. I focus especially on Amish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, two insular religious subcultures which have disparaged the sciences and tried to maximize their autonomy and cultural separateness from the surrounding society. Both internal and contextual factors are important in understanding their reactions to the pandemic.
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