Religion, Politics, and COVID-19 in the United StatesEdited by Paul A. Djupe and Amanda Friesen
With a foreword by Robert P. Jones
The pandemic presented religion as a paradox: faith is often crucial for helping people weather life’s troubles and make difficult decisions, but how can religion continue to deliver these benefits and provide societal structure without social contact? The topical volume, An Epidemic among My People, explains how the COVID-19 pandemic stress tested American religious communities and created a new politics of religion centered on public health.
The editors and contributors consider how the virus and government policy affected religion in America. Chapters examine the link between the prosperity gospel and conspiracy theories, the increased purchase of firearms by evangelicals, the politics of challenging public health orders as religious freedom claims, and the reactions of Christian nationalists, racial groups, and female clergy to the pandemic (and pandemic politics). As sharp lines were drawn between people and their governments during this uncertain time, An Epidemic among My People provides a comprehensive portrait of religion in American public life.
Contributors: Daniel Bennett, Kraig Beyerlein, Cammie Jo Bolin, Ryan P. Burge, Angel Saavedra Cisneros, Ryon J. Cobb, Melissa Deckman, Joshua B. Grubbs, Don Haider-Markel, Ian Huff, Natalie Jackson, Jason Klocek, Benjamin Knoll, Andrew R. Lewis, Jianing Li, Natasha Altema McNeel, Matthew R. Miles, Shayla F. Olson, Diana Orcés, Samuel L. Perry, Jenna Reinbold, Kelly Rolfes-Haase, Stella M. Rouse, Justin A. Tucker, Dilara K. Üsküp, Abigail Vegter, Michael W. Wagner, Andrew L. Whitehead, Angelia R. Wilson, and the editors.
“What power does religion hold in times of crisis? Drawing on a wealth of research conducted over the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic, the thoughtful editors and contributors to An Epidemic among My People uncover how faith communities and religious identities shaped responses to the pandemic. At the same time, the broad range of research contained here underscores how a crisis impacts religious beliefs and practices. This unique collection of essays from across the social sciences showcases findings and insights essential to understanding how religious forces matter in our collective experience of major national and worldwide events.”—Janelle Wong, Professor of American Studies and Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, and author of Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change
“COVID-19 had colossal impacts on public health and mortality, with immense social, political, economic, and psychological consequences. Our understanding of its more precise consequences in particular spheres of society remains thin. An Epidemic among My People offers a reliable, in-depth account of the impacts of COVID-19 on one major area of social life—religion. An impressive array of scholars use very strong empirical data to insightfully sort out the many ways religion and the pandemic interacted, and with what consequences. It is essential reading not only on religion, but for anyone wishing to understand the impact of COVID-19 in society generally.”—Christian Smith, Wm. R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame