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The Gnostic Pandemic: Virtual Worship and the Eclipse of Community in the Time of Covid-19

Luigino Bruni (), Tommaso Reggiani (), Paolo Santori () and Alessandra Smerilli ()
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Tommaso Reggiani: Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University
Paolo Santori: Department of Philosophy, University of Tilburg
Alessandra Smerilli: Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences "Auxilium"

Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, 2022, vol. 130, issue 1, 45-64

Abstract: One of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is the adoption of lockdown policies by national governments to contain the spread of the virus. The two more visible effects on societies are social distancing and the virtualization of social practices. This paper examines some impacts of these phenomena on people’s religious preferences. We investigated how the shift from in-person to online congregation was perceived by Catholic and Protestant believers. Our results show that the Protestant world felt the lack of community more than the Catholic. Within Catholicism, people who attended more religious services before the lockdown seemed to have less notice of the difference between online and in-person worship. The tendency to virtual congregation appears to bring back Catholics to Gnosticism, meaning a religion too focused on spirituality and knowledge to the detriment of corporality and community. Significantly, priests and nuns resisted this tendency within Catholicism.

Keywords: Covid-19; Social Distancing; Virtual Worship (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N30 Z12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Handle: RePEc:vep:journl:y:2022:v:130:i:1:p:45-64