Religion and the Pueblo in the Aftermath of Hurricane María

By: Julianne Bryant  

The region of Puerto Rico suffered great loss after Hurricane María hit the island in September of 2017. When relief efforts failed to come from the outside, the churches formed an interfaith alliance that was the catalyst for disaster relief throughout much of the island. Damage was so extensive that these efforts have continued even more than a year after the hurricane struck. Religion has been shown to provide a forward focus, beyond one’s current circumstances and, thus, create an empowering and unifying function. Various studies have demonstrated a correlation between religion and positive coping and resiliency following stressful or traumatic events, some even demonstrating posttraumatic growth. This understanding has informed the scientific study of religion in dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster, an emerging and growing field of inquiry. This paper will present the findings of a preliminary survey for a study that seeks to investigate how religion has influenced the spiritual and emotional care of the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Disaster Relief, Spiritual and Emotional Care, Hurricane, Religion
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Julianne Bryant

Associate Professor, Modern Languages, Biola University

Dr. Bryant is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics at Biola University. Her research interests are sociolinguistics, language and identity, bilingualism, heritage language acquisition, Caribbean culture and dialect, and the integration of faith and language learning. She has also worked in missions in Cuba, Nicaragua, the Domincan Republic and Puerto Rico. This study emerged out of her recent work in Puerto Rico following Hurricane María.