A Place for Salvation or Torture: The Image of the Russian Orthodox Church in Secular Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic





mediatization, Russian Orthodox Church, secular media, digitalization, social stereotypes


Hjarvard in his work “Mediatization and religion” noted that it is becoming increasingly difficult to control public representations of religion in the media. The difficulty is that religious media, religious journalism, and “banal religion” speak very different languages. During the pandemic, a debate broke out among believers and non-believers about whether to close churches and parishes on the quarantine period. By the decree of the Patriarch, all services in churches were to be performed without the participation of the parishioners. The secular media did not stay away the discussion either. In our study, we analyse a number of texts (articles) from three major news portals: Fontanka.ru (regional level, Saint Petersburg), the newspaper "Arguments and Facts" (Federal level) and the newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets" (regional level, Moscow). Articles were analysed for the period from March 15 to June 15, 2020. The main working hypothesis was the assumption that the image of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in the secular media would change depending on the actions of the Church itself during the pandemic, but in general it would be reproduced rather in a negative way. The content analysis of the data confirmed this hypothesis, both for the media and for their audience. The desire of the ROC to perform services during the pandemic was considered in the media as a wrecking activity that threatens the lives of parishioners. Also The Russian Orthodox Church in the pandemic intensified the process of digitalization of interaction with parishioners

Author Biographies

Elizaveta V. Rodionova, Saint Petersburg State University

  • Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Associated Professor at the Department of Sociology of Culture and Communication

Julia P. Bayer, North-West Institute of Management, branch of RANEPA

  • North-West Institute of Management, branch of RANEPA, Saint Petersburg, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Associate Professor at the Department of Social Technologies