Webinar Episode 3: Civil Society Organizations

This episode brings together civil society perspectives on the pandemic and faith communities.

Webinar Summary

Rachel Bayani provides insights from the Baha’i faith, emphasizing how the faith community must be involved in creating conditions of societal progress and well-being to follow the pandemic. She provides examples from the United States, Vanuatu, and India of how faith groups are supporting their communities and nations during this time of crisis. Christen Broecker offers a civil society perspective as someone who regularly engages with the United Nations. She highlights the benefits that follow when religious communities create multilateral channels of communication with government organizations. Next, Giovanni Gaetani shares reflections on the pandemic and religion from a humanist perspective. He calls attention to the fact that the humanist values threatened by COVID-19 are the same values necessary to combat its deleterious effects. Patrick Roger Schnabel then offers reflections from his position in the Conference of European Churches. He discusses the recent German Constitutional Court decision that places restrictions on freedom of religion or belief and concludes with how religious communities can best support government direction to contain COVID-19. Panelists then answer a wide variety of questions including Hungary’s response to the virus, NGO engagement with the European Commission and European Parliament, the role of religion in combatting a spike in domestic abuse, and ideas for advancing freedom of religion or belief while homebound.


  • Rachel Bayani, Baha’i International Community – Brussels Office
  • Christen Broecker, AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
  • Giovanni Gaetani, Humanists International
  • Rev. Dr. Patrick Roger Schnabel, M.Theol., Thematic Group on Human Rights of the Conference of European Churches


  • Dr. Judd Birdsall, Cambridge Institute for Religious and International Studies