Policy Brief


This policy brief reports on preliminary findings of the online survey Religious Leaders’ Perspectives on Corona. It is the first survey comprehensively exploring the development and relief efforts of religious leaders worldwide as well as their social and theological views on the pandemic. Religious leaders see their communities suffering primarily from the economic challenges caused by government restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. Nonetheless, religious leaders overwhelmingly support the preventive measures introduced by their governments. Consequently, they use their influence to reinforce the importance of adherence to the preventive measures. In regions where governments’ handling of the pandemic is less efficient, the demand on religious leaders to fill the void is high. Concerning the post-pandemic world, religious leaders see it as imperative to “build back better” by advancing social justice, economic equity, ecological sustainability and international cooperation.

The corona pandemic radically changed people’s lives worldwide. Almost everywhere, the pandemic has created fundamental social challenges and intensified existing economic hardships. In this situation, religious communities are not only providing relief and psychosocial support but are highly influential actors in the public discourses. Against this background, the survey Religious Leaders’ Perspectives on Corona explores religious leaders’ views on the current challenges, their practical reactions, and their views on a post-pandemic future. What messages have they been giving to their communities in light of the pandemic? What did or would they say to their governments?

The online survey has been conducted by the Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development (RCSD) since June 2020 and is still ongoing. It is the first study to explore religious leaders’ perspectives on the pandemic now and in the post-pandemic future, and to offer a view of their spiritual and relief activities. The survey can be accessed here: https://hu.berlin/corona-survey.

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