The subject of religion and the behaviour of religious actors in the COVID-19 crisis appear at first glance to constitute either just marginal issues or factors which tend to be negative. Without doubt, many people remember that religious services, especially at the beginning of this global infection, often made the headlines as ‘super spreader events’, whether it was the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, South Korea, the evangelical churches in the USA or Brazil, the Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi and Kuala Lumpur, or the Baptist communities in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. On the other hand, there is far less public discussion on the key role played by religious communities as civil society partners of governments or the WHO, as agencies providing charitable and pastoral assistance, and as a resource for hope and contingency management so as to successfully cope with the pandemic.

This study analyses the ambivalent role of actors in the COVID-19 pandemic within the framework of a theory-based empirical analysis, presents the most important developments, learning effects and problem areas yet to be addressed and finally, based on this, draws up policy recommendations for action.

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