Marco Ventura: Reflections upon the Completion of the Covid-19 & FoRB Webinar Series

Marco Ventura is Professor in the Department of Law, University of Siena and Director of the Center for Religious Studies at Foundation Bruno Kessler

The pandemic has amplified the already existing challenge to the modern construction of religion as separate from science (and medicine, health and well being in particular), the economy and the public sphere (society, politics, government, etc.). Whatever the topic and the region, and whoever the speaker, our webinars have constantly and systematically exposed such challenge in its multifaceted reality. As we have been experiencing disease and death, failures and achievements, fragility and strength, we are brought to realize better than before that the re-articulation of religion and science, religion and the economy, and religion and politics is a global challenge, with multiple, and sometimes conflicting trajectories and variations. The transition from the crisis in global health to the crisis in the global economy is only going to broaden and dramatize the challenge. Hence the responsibility for experts and actors, for religious leaders and their communities, to work for better knowledge and for better action. (more…)

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Faith-Based Organizations Responding to COVID-19


This blog post by Brett G. Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Relgion Studies, and Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for  Religion, Peace & World Affairs, overviews a webinar on “COVID-19, Religion and Belief: Contribution of Faith-Based Humanitarian Organizations” held on June 25, 2020. The online discussion was the twelfth in a series of webinars organized by a coalition of organizations: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, European Union Office; BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies; Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies; Bruno Kessler Foundation/CIRIS; University of Siena; and FGV Escola de Direito do Rio de Janeiro.

The COVID-19 crisis is rocking societies, economies, and institutions across the world. That includes religious communities and organizations. On June 25, an online discussion shone the spotlight on humanitarian organizations, as many are driven by faith inspiration and are playing—and are likely to continue playing—vital roles in responding to the vast human needs the crisis exposes.

Simona Cruciani, from the UN Genocide Prevention Office, moderated an exchange that centered on the immensity of the human suffering we see and on the ways in which organizations are shifting rapidly to respond. The discussion was set in the context of broader contemporary debates about religious engagement and religious freedom, offering examples of how principles translate into action on a day-to-day basis. While positive response was the main thread running through the discussion, panelists also expressed concern over hate speech, intergroup tensions and violence, and the deep inequalities that the crisis exposes so brutally. (more…)

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Religion and Religious Freedom in the COVID-19 Era: Finding Community and Hope


The Religious Freedom Annual Review brings together nationally recognized policy makers, scholars, and religious leaders to discuss the role of religion and religious freedom in the United States. This year’s review was held online, with broadcasts in both English and Spanish.  Reports and recordings from the conference appear below. (more…)

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