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COVID-19, Religion and Belief Webinar Series

Introduction

The novel coronavirus has impacted countries across the word and is affecting many domains of our lives. While other initiatives are focusing on economic or health related impacts of the pandemic, this webinar series aims at exploring the strategies and initiatives of governments and religious groups to deal with the crisis. Our focus is global and will assess the impacts of the pandemic on civil liberties, and especially freedom of religion or belief. During the series, our guests will also touch on cross-cutting themes like the impact of the pandemic on levels of religiosity, on religious practice, on theological reflection and religious imagination, on faith-based humanitarianism, on religion and inclusion/xenophobia. The series brings together government officials, scholars and practitioners to discuss the threats we face, and how we might respond to them.

The series is organized by the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies, the Center for Religious Studies at Bruno Kessler Foundation, the Center for Justice and Society at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) Law School-Rio de Janeiro, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School, the European Union Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the University of Siena.

Sponsoring Institutions

Our Hosts

  • Dr. Pasquale Annicchino, Bruno Kessler Foundation / CIRIS
  • Dr. Judd Birdsall, Cambridge Institute on Religion & International Studies
  • Francesco Di Lillo, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-European Union Office
  • Prof. Michael Mohallem, FGV Escola de Direito do Rio de Janeiro
  • Prof. Brett Scharffs, BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies
  • Prof. Marco Ventura, Bruno Kessler Foundation / University of Siena

Webinars

Our weekly webinars will be live Zoom events open to the public. Participants will be able to submit questions in advance, or during the webinar by using the chat tool. Registration is required and free of charge.

Go to the Next Episode

Recordings

  1. Introduction to the webinar series and general overview
  2. Freedom of Religion and Belief, COVID-19 and Human Dignity
  3. COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Civil Society Organizations' Perspective
  4. COVID-19, Religion and Belief: EU Institutions' Perspective
  5. COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Multilateral Organisations' Perspective
  6. COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Central and South America Perspectives
  7. COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Business, Religion, Economics
  8. COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Special Envoys' Perspective
  9. COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Asia Perspectives
  10. COVID-19, Freedom of religion or belief, and Gender (available on 11 June)

Scroll down to find more information about the individual episodes and the registration links.

Ep.1 "Introduction to the Webinar Series and General Overview"

Thursday, 9 April 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

In the first webinar we explained the rationale of the initiative and explored some of the relevant challenges that COVID-19 poses to civil rights and Freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) in particular. The discussion tackled the following points: 1) How COVID is impacting on civil rights; 2) Specific impact on FoRB; 3) The role of religious communities; and 4) Future challenges.

Ep. 2 "Freedom of Religion and Belief, COVID-19 and Human Dignity"

Thursday, 16 April 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

During our second episode focusing on human dignity, our panelists addressed these and other questions: How is this global emergency affecting our concept of human dignity? How can we ensure that restrictions to civil liberties that we accept for our collective safety respect human dignity and human rights?

Ep. 3 "COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Civil Society Organizations' Perspective"

Thursday, 23 April 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

With our diverse panel of civil society leaders, we explored a range of urgent questions, including: how is the pandemic affecting the rights of civil society organizations? Are the measures taken to limit the contagion placing an undue burden on religious and other civil society groups? What can governments and civil society organizations do to preserve and defend human rights during this crisis? How can we best fight conspiracy theories and stigmatization? What are likely to be some of the long-term implications of the present crisis for FoRB and religious tolerance?

Ep. 4 "COVID-19, Religion and Belief: EU Institutions' Perspective"

Thursday, 30 April 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

The pandemic is emerging as a threefold challenge for the European Union. The first challenge is about the fundamentals of the European project. The second challenge concerns the role of religion and belief communities in assessing the state of Europe as well as in deciding about its future. The third challenge regards current EU mechanisms and procedures for engaging with religion, in particular the dialogue under Article 17 TFEU, and the internal and external action for the protection and promotion of freedom of religion or belief, and the global exchange on religion in society. The webinar gathered witnesses from the EU institutions in order to discuss how the pandemic is affecting the debate, and how it is shaping the response to such a momentous challenge.

Ep. 5 "COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Multilateral Organizations' Perspective"

Thursday, 7 May 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

With our panel of multilateral officials, all of whom have expertise in engaging religious actors, we explored a range of urgent questions, including:

  • How is the pandemic affecting multilateral institutions’ engagement with religious and belief groups?
  • What is the added value that multilateral organizations bring to engagement with religious/belief groups and to the promotion of Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) and tolerance?
  • As the pandemic seems in many cases to be reinforcing nationalism and even xenophobia, how can multilateral institutions and religious/beliefs groups and interfaith networks work together to promote international cooperation and respect?
  • What are likely to be some of the long-term implications of the present crisis for FoRB, religious tolerance, and the role of religion within multilateral organizations?

Ep. 6 "COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Central and South America Perspectives"

Thursday, 14 May 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

With our panel of leading academics, we explored a range of urgent questions, including:

  • In what ways have governments infringed on the right to freedom of religion or belief?
  • In what ways have religious groups helped or hindered the response to the virus?
  • Have best practices emerged?

Ep. 7 "COVID-19: Business, Religion, Economics"

Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

The following issues were discussed:

  • The economic context of the global pandemic and its impact on religious groups;
  • The contribution of world religions and its impact on businesses and public finances;
  • The initiatives of international organizations.

Ep. 8 "COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Special Envoys' Perspective"

Thursday, 28 May 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

The following questions were addressed:

  • What is the current state of the art of the missions of Special Envoys?
  • What is the role of Special Envoys in the context of the pandemic?
  • What is the future of Special Envoys?
  • How is the Covid-19 crisis impacting Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in the world? Will it eventually change FoRB as we know it?

Ep. 9 "COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Asia Perspectives"

Thursday, 4 June 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

With our panel of leading academics, we explored a range of urgent questions, including:

  • In what ways have governments infringed on the right to freedom of religion or belief?
  • In what ways have religious groups helped or hindered the response to the virus?
  • Have best practices emerged?

Ep. 10 "COVID-19, Freedom of religion or belief, and Gender"

Thursday, 11 June 2020 at 3:00 PM CEST

Click to enlarge

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the full and free exercise of the right to freedom of religion or belief in various parts of the world has been well documented, however the different consequences for men and women, boys and girls, have been less well described and discussed. Similarly, while the notable response of religious and belief leaders and communities to the pandemic has received much attention, the particular role played by female religious and belief leaders and actors has gained scant attention.

Credits:

Created with an image by Martin Sanchez - "untitled image"