Private Beliefs, Public Platforms and the Rule of Law

Sohail Wahedi is an Assistant Professor of Law at the Erasmus School of Law in the Netherlands and the 2022 Niels Stensen Fellow at the University of Toronto

This post is also a part of an ongoing discussion about Religion and the Rule of Law.


In January 2021 Twitter decided to delete the account of one of its fervent users, Donald Trump, who insisted on spreading disinformation about election frauds during the 2020 Presidential elections.  A significant number of people will remember Trump as one of the most surprising political leaders in the history of the U.S. Not only because he was a champion of “fake news,” battled for fewer immigrants,  framed his legal and political opponents as “losers,” “stupid,” or “double-faced,”  but also because he—as “the King Social Media”—got deleted from Twitter.

Although some have supported Trump’s Twitter ban because of his use of social media in a way to target political opponents and to mobilize his supporters, others,  such as German chancellor Angela Merkel, have been very critical of the ban, calling the suspension “problematic” because of the importance of free speech in a real democracy. This free speech dimension and the considerable precedential force of the Trump Twitter ban has urged constitutional law scholars to scrutinize the power public platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter possess to intervene in matters of civil liberties.


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Conversation: Digitalization of Religion in Times of COVID-19

Marco Ventura
is a professor with tenure in law and religion at the University of Siena and the Director of the Center for Religious Studies at Fondazione Bruno Kessler of Trento

Causing many religious activities to go online and resort to new information and communication technologies, the COVID-19 related lockdown and social distancing is transforming digital religion, a growing reality and research area for the last 20 years, into a mass experience. Quickly, the pre-pandemic niche experience and study is being replaced by a new reality and knowledge of digital religion, associated with controversies over conflicting interpretations of the process. Reacting to the transition into our pandemic-driven new age of digital religionthe four blogs gathered here contribute valuable information and present the many faces of the debate on how good or bad, digitalization of religion is (as well as on how actors should handle such momentous transformation).

In this attempt to briefly introduce the four texts and organize the extraordinary fluidity of digital religion in times of COVID-19, I would like to highlight four key elements of the reality, knowledge, and debate we are confronted with as we try to get ready for the new scenario.


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Prisoners of an Image Secularization as an Epidemic

Paolo Costa is a researcher at the Center for Religious Sciences of Fondazione Bruno Kessler in Trento, Italy.

The post was first published on the Bruno Kessler Foundation’s Center for Religious Studies’ website.

Photographing the Void

What will stay with us after the  COVID-19 pandemic is over is not only the bewilderment at a life change that no sane person could have foreseen only a few months ago or the collective anxiety for an indeterminate and insidious threat impending over mankind. Besides this,  some images have disturbed the consciences of those who, to evoke Max Weber, are still religiously musical despite the inexorable process of the disenchantment of the world.

Some of these images have already gone down in history.

The most evocative ones are the photographs of Pope Francis shot during the extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing of March 27. Overlooking a deserted and rain-lashed Saint Peter’s Square, he gave voice to the feeling of disorientation afflicting Christians and non-Christians alike since the beginning of the pandemic with these powerful words:


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