POINTERS September 2021

POINTERS September 2021



What Impact has COVID­19 had on Religious Faith?
Some Notes from the International Society for the Sociology of Religion Conference 2021
Between 12th and 15th July 2021, the biennial conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion met. The meeting was originally planned to occur in Taiwan, but COVID-19 intervened and the meeting took place on-line. This had its advantages as it was much cheaper and easier for many people to be involved. But it also meant that many papers were given during the afternoon for Europeans and in the middle of the night for Australians! Apart from the plenary sessions, there were 77 sessions at the Conference with three or four papers in each. As there were generally four or five papers being given simultaneously, it was only possible to sample a few papers, and therefore it is hard to make any generalisations about the conference as a whole.

However, behind many of the sessions I attended were questions about the impact of COVID-19 on religious faith. So far, comparatively little detailed research has been done, but there were many suggestions about what might have occurred. This article will discuss some of these and within these suggestions are many ideas about possible future patterns and issues.

Is Australia a Unique Multi-Faith Nation?
In August 2021, the Australian population once again completed the national census. The initial results will be released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in June 2022. It is highly likely, given past trends, that the proportion of the population identifying themselves with a Christian denomination will have fallen below 50 per cent for the first time since Australian censuses began. It is also likely that some groups in the community will make much of this, arguing that Australia is no longer a Christian nation.

Professor the Reverend Gary Bouma (AM) 1942 – 2021
Professor Gary Bouma was the leading sociologist of religion in Australia for 40 years and was well-known for his academic work around the world. He frequently featured in radio and television programs, where he was the master of brief and insightful comments on the profile and trends in religion in Australia. He played a major role in developing respectful relationships between different religious groups. Perhaps more significantly, he supervised, encouraged and shaped a host of individuals and organisations, including the Christian Research Association (CRA), that continue to serve Australia through research on its religious and spiritual life.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Churches in the UK
Results from a study of Anglican Church clergy and churchgoers in the United Kingdom during the height of the pandemic has recently been published. The Coronavirus, Church and You survey was conducted between May and July 2020, using both online and paper versions, and distributed through the Church Times, the main news service of the Church of England in the UK. The survey received over 7000 responses.

CRA Appoints New Accredited Researchers
In line with our vision and purpose, the CRA is currently broadening its research areas and developing partnerships with key researchers and organisations. The CRA Board has approved the appointments of three new Accredited Researchers, who join previously accredited researchers: Dr Bob Dixon, Dr Wilma Gallet, Rev Professor Philip Hughes and Professor Ruth Webber.

Australia’s Population and COVID-19
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has recently released updated population statistics to the end of March 2021.

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