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UK News

‘Religious life is not going back to normal’: New study will examine covid-19 impact on religious practices

by Kelly Valencia

A new major research project will look into how our religious habits have changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The University of Chester together with Manchester Metropolitan University will analyse how faith communities are adapting their customs.

The project is being led by Dr Alana Vincent and Dr Josh Edelman. Speaking with Premier, Dr Edelman expects that the changes seen so far will continue once the pandemic is over. 

“Religious life is not going to go back to normal after the pandemic, any more than any other part of our life.… what is being developed in this pandemic is going to shape the future of church life in this country.” 

The 12-month research project, entitled British Ritual Innovation under COVID-19 (BRIC-19), will also study the role technology is playing in this period of adaptation. Dr Edelman believes technology has always shaped religious practices.

“Technology has always changed religious life; the Book of Common Prayer was a technology that changed the way worship happened in this country. You start by just using the technologies that you know, but very quickly, the technology starts to shape how anything happens, including worship.”

Dr Edelman thinks the coronavirus pandemic has created an opportunity to rethink the way we live out our faith. 

“[Almost] all the clergy members that we surveyed have said that some of the technologies and innovations that they're discovering during this pandemic will still be used afterwards.

“That means this is a real opportunity to think hard about what we want from our ritual lives in our churches and communities, and how we can achieve that. We want to be part of that discussion” Dr Edelman added. 

To help with the study, researchers are asking for religious leaders and believers to complete a survey about their experiences during the covid-19 pandemic. 

The results of the research will be published in July 2021.

You can find the survey here.

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