ReCoVirA: Religious Communities in the Virtual Age

While, historically, religious life has been something of a refuge from the digitalisation of society, the COVID-19 pandemic changed that. The social restrictions imposed by the pandemic rapidly accelerated religious communities’ embrace of digital tools and structures in order to continue their essential social and psychological work during this crisis. As our preliminary research has shown, these developments have opened up new and productive possibilities for how European religion is done, and so these developments are likely to persist long after the pandemic has ended. But exactly what the consequences of this rapid digitalisation of religious life in Europe will be, for majority and minority traditions, requires further research.

How will issues such as religious authority, community belonging and membership, the (digital) sense of sacred place, the making of meaningful and affectively potent rituals and the relationship of religious communities to the wider public sphere change when those communities exist primarily, or even completely, in the digital realm?

This project brings together scholars from seven European countries with backgrounds in the sociology of religion, anthropology, digital religion, performance studies and allied disciplines to address these questions. The primary method will be ethnography, including both traditional and digital methods. The project will conduct ethnographic research on mainstream, long-established minority and emergent or newly-built religious communities in our countries in a way that facilitates both ethnographic depth and international comparability. To supplement this, we will: (a) review and analyse large-scale social surveys of European experience of and engagement with religion and the digital; (b) conduct a social and broadcast media analysis of changing coverage of religion in response to the pandemic; and (c) conduct an aesthetic analysis of online and hybrid rituals with the tools of performance studies.


  • Project Leader: Joshua Edelman, Manchester Metropolitan University, Art and Performance, United Kingdom, e-mail
  • Viera Pirker, Goethe University, Catholic Theology, Germany, e-mail
  • Lena Roos, Södertörn University, School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, Sweden
  • Ewa Stachowska, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Resocialisation, Institute of Social Prevention and Resociali, Poland
  • Ales Crnic, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences, Slovenia
  • Henrik Reintoft Christensen, Aarhus University, School of Culture and Society, dept. of the study of religion, Denmark, e-mail
  • Marcus Moberg, Åbo Akademi University, Study of Religions, Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology, Finland, e-mail


  • Bendorferforum für Ökumenische Begegnung und Interreligiösen Dialog E.V.
  • National Forum for Cooperation of Religions in Finland
  •  Forum for Culture and Religion FOKUS
  • JCM – The Standing Conference of Jews, Christians and Muslims in Europe
  • Rat der Religionen – Frankfurt (Council of Religions – Frankfurt)
  • The Donner Institute for Research in Religion and Culture
  • United Evangelical Mission, Organisation’s internal funds
  • The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ),
  •  Bischöffliche Beauftrage and Bischofsvikar, Department of Church Development, Roman Catholic Diocese of Limburg, Hesse
  •  Church Research Institute, Evangelical Luther Church of Finland
  •  Foundation PSC
  •  Polish Association for the Study of Religions

For more information or to join the project mailing list, please contact: [email protected]


 Start date

1 November 2022

Project duration

24 months

 Project budget

€ 1 396 740

Funding organisations