Podcast | Keeping faith — and a safe distance — during a pandemic

Priests and other spiritual leaders work to assure safety now, but how will coronavirus change the future of organized religion?

A priest in a church

Father Todd Strange in St. Joseph Catholic Church in Issaquah on April 6, 2020. Strange quarantined himself for two weeks after he ministered to COVID-19 patients in a nursing home. (Jen Dev/Crosscut)

Community is at the core of almost every organized religion the world over. So what happens to the faithful and their leaders when gathering is potentially deadly and forbidden by government? As all things in this era of coronavirus, the answer is complicated. Many religious leaders are finding new ways to conduct the rituals of their faith, from the most intimate to the necessarily communal, while adhering to public health guidelines. Then there are others standing in opposition to government orders and encouraging their followers to gather in person. The challenges to the faithful posed by COVID-19 are not unique to the United States, but in a country that considers religious freedom a cornerstone, they are certainly more pronounced. For this episode of This Changes Everything, host Sara Bernard talks with Crosscut reporter Lilly Fowler about the efforts of Catholic priests to administer sacraments while staying safe, the resistance cropping up among some of the faithful and the impact that the virus could have on the future of religious life in America.