This page was last updated on September 1, 2021.
The Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress has monitored the role of religion and faith communities during the coronavirus crisis. This includes conducting policy analysis of religious exemptions to public health orders and amplifying the positive role played by faith leaders in flattening the curve of the pandemic. Here are some of the Faith Initiative’s top coronavirus-related resources.
Public health guidance for houses of worship
The Trump administration prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from issuing detailed public health guidance specifically for houses of worship, leaving faith communities to navigate pandemic-related challenges on their own. In the absence of national leadership, CAP issued guidance to advise houses of worship on how best to adapt in-person activities and rituals in order to reduce risk to their congregants and surrounding communities.
- 17 FAQs for Houses of Worship Considering Reopening Amid the Coronavirus Crisis
This CAP column provides a comprehensive list of answers to frequently asked questions by faith leaders considering various types of in-person activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Religious exemptions and COVID-19
As states issued stay-at-home orders and bans on mass gatherings, almost half included specific exemptions for religious communities. The Trump administration made repeated gestures of support for these exemptions, despite the mounting evidence that continuing in-person gatherings of faith communities would place congregants at significant risk. CAP conducted analyses of these religious exemptions and what is behind this conservative campaign to misuse religious freedom.
- Religious Exemptions During the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Only Worsen the Crisis
This CAP column analyzes the use of religious exemptions and includes the only comprehensive list of the 20 state-based exemptions at the time of publication.
- The Plan for Reopening Houses of Worship After the Coronavirus Crisis
This CAP column provides a framework for reopening houses of worship and explains how the Trump administration misused “religious freedom” to reopen prematurely.
- Distorting religious freedom will put people in danger (CNN)
CAP’s Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons analyzes how conservative legal groups are distorting religious freedom during the coronavirus pandemic. CNN Español published this piece in Spanish: Distorsionar la libertad religiosa representa un gran peligro para EE.UU.
- Covid mask and vaccination mandates aren’t Christian persecution (NBC News)
CAP’s Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons responds to anti-maskers’ misguided attempts to use religious freedom as a license to spread the coronavirus.
Despite religious exemptions to coronavirus-related orders, the vast majority of faith communities chose to follow clear public health guidance. As several major religious holidays approached, CAP launched the #StayHomeStayHoly social media campaign to encourage people of faith to commit to continuing to follow public health guidance while observing their holidays.
- The faithful response to coronavirus: protect one another (CNN)
This op-ed by CAP’s Maggie Siddiqi and Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons was one of the first pieces in national news arguing for religious communities to suspend in-person services. CNN Español published the piece in Spanish: La respuesta fiel al coronavirus: protegernos unos a otros.
- RELEASE: Clyburn, Faith Leaders Urge Americans To #StayHomeStayHoly During Upcoming Holidays
This CAP press release provides highlights of the press call CAP held with U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and faith leaders Sister Simone Campbell, Rabbi Sharon Brous, and Wajahat Ali.
- The #StayHomeStayHoly Pledge
CAP’s Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative launched this pledge along with its social media campaign to invite faith communities to engage in their regular worship in ways that are in accordance with public health guidance.
To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.
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Senior Director, Religion and Faith
Fellow, Religion and Faith