This chapter examines the social and political mobilisation of Orthodox churches in Romania and Bulgaria as regards the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on the social activism of religious and political bodies and the ways in which political leaders, Orthodox hierarchs, lower clergy, and the faithful observed health measures and national vaccination programmes in both the countries. It draws on public speeches, mass media reports, and sociological data in relation to religious mobilisation. Romania and Bulgaria stood out in the European Union as the countries with the lowest rates of vaccination uptake. The chapter argues that Orthodox churches have played an influential role regarding the ways in which the population adhered (or failed to adhere) to national health measures. In Romania, the church was divided between official and informal networks of social and political power, which led to an increase in the far-right movement. In Bulgaria, the church was closely associated with the government's stance towards supporting health measures and, in the long term, political protests became associated with the anti-vaccination programme.
|Title of host publication
|Orthodox Christianity and the COVID-19 Pandemic
|Place of Publication
|Number of pages
|Published - 30 Nov 2023
|Routledge Religion, Society and Government in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet States
This chapter has been made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND license [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/]. Funded by Lund University.