The COVID-19 Discourse Analysis: Contemporary Religious Frameworks for Pandemics

Background:The need for an analytical-theoretical framework for disasters from a religious perspective is more urgent today than before due to the emergency of new pandemics. Human life is a process of meaning-making where people try to interpret, understand, or make sense of significant events of loss, relationships, and the self. The struggle to unpack the purpose of life finds expression during times of disasters. One major conundrum faced by religious leaders, analysts, and academics, is coming up with a contemporary analytical framework or systematic approach to pandemics. The COVID 19 pandemic has demonstrated how the absence of such a contemporary religious framework for disaster risk management fuels conspiracy theories.

Methodology: Using a qualitative methodology comprising of published literature review, online resources, participant observation, and key informant interviews with religious leaders, this paper attempts to construct an analytical religious framework for disasters using the COVID 19 pandemic as a case study.

Results: Four contemporary religious analytical approaches to pandemics are identified from the COVID 19 experience: (1) Curse-centric approach that look at COVID 19 pandemic as a punishment for humanity’s moral misconducts. Adherence of this approach attach some spiritual connotations to pandemics. This is common among adherents of Christianity, Islam, and the African Traditional Religion; (ii) Eschaton-centric approach -this approach is highly influenced by the Judeo-Christian traditions and adherence’s views suggest that pandemics have a salvific significance. This group believes pandemics are part of God’s plan for salvation of all; (iii) Eco-centric approach. This approach has some resemblance of curse-centric but is different. This approach is common among Westerners and partly ATR. Itassumes that disasters are human-made, and pandemics are part of nature’s reaction against the ecosystem abuse by human beings; and (iv) Plot-centric or conspiracy approaches that see in pandemics some schemes by certain sections of the world or spirits to annihilate other races or religious followers. This approach is most common among Africans and other third world countries.

Conclusion: Each approach to the pandemic is triggered by a different stimulus and its opinion about COVID 19 is dissimilar. Consequently, the study concludes that mitigation of COVID 19 pandemic depends on utilization of relevant response strategies in accordance with the religious orientations of each community. The study recommends the fusion of scientific methods with a cocktail of religious approaches for effective adoption of mitigatory measures against the pandemic.