During the Pandemic, Religion Helped People Cope

There is little question that the coronavirus pandemic took an emotional toll on nearly everybody across the world. The University of Cambridge reports on two studies from the U.S. and the UK about how people responded mentally to lockdowns, infection, and the infection of close friends and family:

University of Cambridge economists argue that—taken together—these studies show that religion may act as a bulwark against increased distress and reduced wellbeing during times of crisis, such as a global public-health emergency.

“Selection biases make the wellbeing effects of religion difficult to study,” said Professor Shaun Larcom from Cambridge’s Department of Land Economy, and co-author of the latest study. . . . “However, the COVID-19 pandemic was an extraordinary event affecting everyone at around the same time, so we could gauge the impact of a negative shock to wellbeing right across society.”

“The study suggests that it is not just being religious, but the intensity of religiosity that is important when coping with a crisis,” said Larcom.

There was little overall difference among Christians, Muslims, and Hindus—followers of the three biggest religions in the UK.

Read more at University of Cambridge

More about: Coronavirus, Religion

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security