Religiosity, Spirituality and Conspiracy Theories

Empirical-Quantitative Analysis during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany

in German Politics and Society
Author:
Carolin Hillenbrand Research Associate, University of Münster, Germany chillenb@uni-muenster.de

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Detlef Pollack Senior Professor, University of Münster, Germany detlef.pollack@gmail.com

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Abstract

To cope with the covid-19 pandemic, people not only relied on state measures and scientific knowledge, but also drew on the resources of religion. They may also have embraced conspiracy theories that sometimes led them to engage in protest behavior. Against this background, we address the following research question: “How are people's religiosity and spirituality related to their belief in covid-19 conspiracy theories in Germany?” We answer this question by conducting a theory-led empirical analysis. We apply quantitative methods based on primary data from a (non-representative) online survey that we carried out with 2,373 respondents in Germany between July 2020 and January 2021. The results show that belief in covid-19 conspiracy theories is positively correlated with the image of a punitive God, with exclusivist beliefs, and with private prayer—and negatively correlated with attendance at religious services. Moreover, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews have a lower affinity for conspiracy theories than not religiously affiliated people, while the opposite is true for Evangelicals.

Contributor Notes

Carolin Hillenbrand is a Research Associate and Doctoral Candidate at the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” at the University of Münster. Her research areas include the sociology of religion, political culture, social capital and cohesion, as well as religion and sustainable development. Email: chillenb@uni-muenster.de

Detlef Pollack is a Senior Professor at the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” at the University of Münster since 2008, where he was spokesperson from 2015 to 2018. His research areas include the sociology of religion, church history of the GDR, political-culture-research and systems theory. Email: detlef.pollack@gmail.com

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