Why Pandemic Religion?

Pandemic Religion documents the many ways that American religious communities have been challenged and reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of the crisis, websites are full of this sort of information. Synagogues and mosques post coronavirus updates, and tweets and Facebook posts record spiritual responses to illness, death, and unemployment. Most of this information, however, will be lost if we don’t retain a record of it. 

When historians study the Black Death or the 1918–1919 Spanish Flu, they rely on materials that generations have preserved, everything from parish documents to church altarpieces to newspapers to personal diaries and letters. Only a fraction of materials survive. Today’s digital age poses unique challenges. On the one hand, a Tweet might circulate long after its author has disavowed it. On the other hand, videos of sermons or church webpages are ephemeral. Please help us to act now to preserve memories and materials—your memories and materials—that will otherwise be lost.

What items can I contribute?

Pandemic Religion collects images, videos, audio files, texts, and more. Everything from sermons to screen shots. It is difficult to know what present and future scholars will find most valuable. If you have any questions about what is desirable or permissible to share, please get in touch with us at pandemicreligion@gmail.com.

What happens to an item I have contributed?

Once you have contributed an item, it is stored on RRCHNM’s servers. A staff person will review your contribution. If there is no reason to withhold publication, that item will be made publicly available on the site. Items that are publicized will be generally available. Items which are submitted but not published will nevertheless be available for study by scholars. RRCHNM is currently investigating best practices for how to preserve these items over the long term.  

Who curates these materials?

Pandemic Religion was started by John G. Turner (Department of Religious Studies) and Lincoln Mullen (Department of History and Art History) at George Mason University. If you would like to become involved as a contributor, curator, or promoter, please contact us at pandemicreligion@gmail.com

How can I use these materials in my history course?

Perhaps you are teaching a fully online course for the first time this semester. Or you are looking for a creative assignment that will help students connect the classroom with the events unfolding around them. Consider building an assignment around the materials in the Pandemic Religion digital archive. Your students could become contributors to the archive, and they could use its collection of materials to analyze the lived realities of American religion during the pandemic. Consult our teaching guide for assignment ideas. 

Project staff

  • Ken Albers, Software Developer and Designer, RRCHNM
  • Alexis Frambes, Research Associate, RRCHNM
  • Jason Heppler, Senior Web Developer, RRCHNM
  • Julia Hoffer, Grants Administrator, RRCHNM
  • God's Will Katchoua, Systems Administrator, RRCHNM
  • Mills Kelly, Executive Director, RRCHNM
  • Jessica Mack, Postdoctoral Fellow, RRCHNM
  • Lincoln Mullen, Associate Professor of History, George Mason University
  • Jim Safley, Senior Software Developer and Metadata Specialist, RRCHNM
  • John G. Turner, Professor of Religious Studies, George Mason University

Project advisory board

  • Maria Dakake, Associate Professor, George Mason University and Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies
  • Zev Eleff, Associate Professor of Jewish History, Touro College and University System
  • Arthur E. Farnsley, Associate Director, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture
  • Abdulahad Farooq, Imam, Dar Al-Noor Islamic Community Center, Manassas, Virginia
  • Rev. Mary Anne Glover, Transitional General Minister, Virginia Council of Churches
  • Philip Goff, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture
  • Hillel Gray, Department of Comparative History, Miami University of Ohio
  • Christopher C. Jones, Department of History, Brigham Young University
  • Patrick Q. Mason, Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History, Utah State University
  • Kristy Nabhan-Warren, V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair in Catholic Studies, University of Iowa
  • Jonathan D. Riddle, Department of History, Wheaton College
  • Rebekah Sobel, Director of Interpretation, Capital Jewish Museum
  • Daniel Staffenberg, Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Community Federation of Richmond