DOI: 10.18413/2408-9338-2021-7-3-1-3

The position of religious communities during the coronavirus pandemic and the reflection on the public opinion in Macedonia

The COVID-19 pandemic affected religion and faith in different ways. The interaction between religious traditions, religious freedom and responsibilities in public health is complex, intertwining the cultural and legal dimensions of social reality. Introduction of numerous restrictive measures for prevention and protection against the spread of coronavirus, in many cases, were contrary to the religious practices of religious communities. The views of the religious communities regarding these measures at the beginning of the pandemic were also reflected in the views of the believers, whose behavior had a kind of response in public opinion. The purpose of this paper is to outline and compare the position of religious communities in Macedonian society at the beginning of the pandemic and their views in late 2020 and early 2021. It also provides an overview and comparison of the public reactions which arose from the position of religious communities regarding restrictive measures and the practice of religious services. To meet the objectives, this paper is divided into two parts, where the first part presents the activities and initiatives of religious communities, while the second part shows the reflections from the activities of religious communities on public opinion. In doing so, both views are based on a qualitative analysis, which in the first part analyzes the reports from religious communities, as well as other public sources, while the second part is a thematic analysis of Twitter Platform. The comparison between the position of the religious communities at the beginning of the pandemic and during the holidays at the end of the year indicates that their position is unchanged, and they clearly support the measures for prevention and protection from the coronavirus. However, the public interest in religious practices has drastically decreased at the end of the year compared to the beginning of the pandemic, although the impatience towards the clergy and believers who attend religious services is identical in both compared periods.

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