How coronavirus is leading to a religious revival

Apr 28, 2020 by

By Sebastian Shehadi and Miriam Partington, New Statesman:

As Covid-19 reminds us of life’s fragility, an increasing number of people are turning to faith and spirituality.

orinna Camilleri was five years old when she began attending church in her hometown of Mdina, Malta. She remembers learning to recite prayers word for word from the Bible, many of which she still remembers today. “I always believed in a God,” says the London-based artist. “But looking at the coronavirus situation, I’m questioning his agenda. What kind of twisted entity would allow such suffering?”

While Corinna may be experiencing a crisis of faith, recent data shows that others may be engaging more with religion since lockdown. The fact that Bible app downloads shot up in March globally is one indication of this. The top English-language Bible on Google Play and App Store was installed almost two million times, the highest amount ever recorded for March, according to Appfigures. Similarly, one of the UK’s largest online Christian bookstores, Eden, has seen physical Bible sales rise by 55 per cent in April, while Google searches for “prayer” and “Christianity” have skyrocketed.

The pandemic has triggered a “historic spiritual moment”, says Dr Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, who is unsurprised by the growth in Bible-reading. He notes that engagement with online church services is also booming, and that it is a response to feelings of disorientation, fragility and fear caused by the crisis.

“Online, one can preserve a measure of anonymity. You can tune into something without committing yourself, and expose yourself to something fresh,” he adds.

Since lockdown began, one of the UK’s largest churches, Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), has seen turnout double for its online Alpha course, a space for non-believers to ask questions about faith and Christianity.

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