Mike McMullen, American Baha’i Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, May 5

2 p.m. Eastern time

Link to PowerPoint

Link to video recording

Link to audio only (podcast)

In 2023 the Faith Communities Today (FACT) group surveyed the congregations of dozens of denominations in the United States, including the Bahá’í Faith, about how well religious communities and congregations adapted to and survived the COVID-19 pandemic. A random sample of Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly secretaries received the survey and 54% responded. Questions were asked about online versus virtual Feasts, Ruhi classes, youth education and devotionals; the changing use of technology in the face of the pandemic (Zoom or Facebook meetings, etc.); changing finances during the pandemic; and the changing level of conflict among community members. Results show that while the average Bahá’í community saw a slight decline in online Feast attendance during the pandemic, most communities saw an increase in Ruhi and children’s class attendance, and an increase in community volunteering (in opposition to the average church in the US). Copies of all FACT surveys and findings are available at: www.faithcommunitiestoday.org.

Mike McMullen is a professor of Sociology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in Houston, Texas. He received his doctorate and MA in sociology from Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia). He received his BS in sociology and mathematics from the University of Kansas. He is the author of several books and articles, including The Bahá’í: The Religious Construction of a Global Identity was published by Rutgers University Press in 2000; and The Bahá’ís of America: The Growth and Change of a Religious Movement by New York University Press in 2015. His areas of interest include the sociology of religion, the Middle East, organizational development and change, and conflict resolution and mediation. Dr. McMullen worked for five years as a researcher and workshop facilitator at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. He spent a year living in Cairo, Egypt as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching sociology at American University in Cairo during the 2009-2010 academic years. Most recently, he spent a summer term teaching at the United States International University of Africa in Nairobi, Kenya in 2019.


4 responses to “Mike McMullen, American Baha’i Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, May 5”

  1. Iraj Saniee Avatar
    Iraj Saniee

    It would be very helpful if the links to the webinars are made active in the PDF e-brochures exhibited on these annoucements so that those interested can simply click on these to get connected. Right now, viewers cannot even copy and paste the URLs and have to type the address by hand.

    1. I’m working on that and I think I’ve figured out how to do it.

  2. Don Osborn Avatar
    Don Osborn

    Interested to know if Prod. McMullen’s study included any information on two areas.

    First, any info on COVID-19 transmission rates within the communities surveyed? From local observation where I am, there have been people who knew they were positive who isolated, and one recent (2024) case of someone testing positive just after a Bahá’í meeting (fortunately no transmission, due certainly to a combination of most people being masked & vaccinated, and a favorable ventilation pattern). Beyond that, one neither hears nor spreads rumors, but it would be helpful to know how often people fall ill or test positive after in-person gatherings (without reference to personal specifics).

    Second, did the study include any info on steps taken by communities to mitigate potential airborne transmission of COVID & other airborne pathogens? Thinking here primarily of air filtration devices, enhanced ventilation, and CO2 monitoring. Such technologies for indoor air quality (IAQ) are improving and fairly widely known, so it would be good to know if/how communities are using them. and how.

    Thank you.

    1. The survey did not include any questions related to transmission rates. It may have included mitigation questions; I don’t remember.

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