A project supported by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute recently won the “Distinguished Article Award” from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
The paper, "Religion at the frontline: How religion influenced the response of local government officials to the COVID-19 pandemic", published recently in Sociology and Religion, stems from an SSRI funded pilot project awarded to principal investigator Gary Adler, associate professor of sociology, and co-principal investigator Eric Plutzer, professor of political science.
The project centers on the United States’ unique constitutional structure and religious history, which has promoted the interaction of church and state in local communities, and notes increased religious diversity and changing federal jurisprudence that accommodate more church-state interaction. As a result, the possibility of both religious cooperation and conflict has grown.
The initial SSRI funded project focused on Pennsylvania as a pilot case, using a representative survey to examine local officials’ religious belief and affiliations, their perceptions and biases towards church-state interaction, and their actual experience of managing such interaction. The award-winning paper used a follow-up survey with the same officials, conducted within six weeks of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, to examine how local officials’ religiosity influenced their policy responses to the pandemic.
Additional authors on the paper include Selena Ortiz, Damon Mayrl, Jonathan Coley, and Rebecca Sager.
For more information on SSRI’s funding mechanisms, visit the Institute’s Funding website.