The pandemic presented religion as a paradox: faith is often crucial for helping people weather life’s troubles and make difficult decisions, but how can religion continue to deliver these benefits and provide societal structure without social contact? The topical volume, An Epidemic among My People explains how the COVID-19 pandemic stress tested American religious communities and created a new politics of religion centered on public health.
The editors and contributorsconsider how the virus and government policy affected religion in America. Chapters examine the link between the prosperity gospel and conspiracy theories, the increased purchase of firearms by evangelicals, the politics of challenging public health orders as religious freedom claims, and the reactions of Christian nationalists, racial groups, and female clergy to the pandemic (and pandemic politics). As sharp lines were drawn between people and their governments during this uncertain time, An Epidemic among My People provides a comprehensive portrait of religion in American public life.
Paul A. Djupe teaches political science at Denison University. He is the coauthor of God Talk: Experimenting with the Religious Causes of Public Opinion, the coeditor of The Evangelical Crackup?: The Future of the Evangelical-Republican Coalition, and the editor of Religion and Political Tolerance: Advances in the State of the Art (all Temple). He is also the editor of the Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics series with Temple, and the cofounder of the blog Religion in Public. Amanda Friesen is Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies at Western University, London, Ontario, and serves on the editorial boards of Politics and Religion, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Sex Roles.