The Role of Faith, Spirituality, and Religion in Disaster Response and Recovery - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-10-11
The Role of Faith, Spirituality, and Religion in Disaster Response and Recovery - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Religion Disaster
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1824 words
16 min read


Religion is the definition of the belief that people have in a supernatural being, to which they believe for their welfare regarding various issues in life. It is a specific system that individuals follow in their worship and system of faith. Based on their religion, an individual can have faith, helping them deal with various challenges. The help is based on the belief that the supernatural being will help them overcome the various challenges they have in life. On the other hand, there is spirituality, which is the personal connection that individuals have with a supernatural being. It is more personal to an individual as compared to religion. That is whereby an individual has a closer and personal relationship with a supernatural being of a system of worship. With spirituality being more specific with an individual, it is related to a sense of purpose and peace. Therefore, in times of disaster, spirituality and religion's role is to offer comfort and hope that there will be a better turn of events in the long run. We believe that the disaster events will come to pass, or that spirituality and religion will give us the strength to face the challenges.

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An individual's approach to a disaster forms a basis for different applications when addressing a given type of disaster. That determines the type of intervention that an individual adopts. First, there is disaster preparation, whereby an individual lays down procedures in preparation for the uncertain events about to happen. With the help of the various principles of religion and spirituality, an individual is better prepared to face the disaster's consequences. Furthermore, there is a disaster response, which is applying the disaster preparation principles that an individual adopted earlier. The response that an individual adopts determines what an individual does as they face the consequences of the disaster that has befallen them. Moreover, there is also the aspect of risk reduction. That deals with limiting the extent of the adverse effects of the disaster an individual faces in their life. Therefore, it is evident that spirituality and religion can be used in various ways when addressing various aspects associated with a disaster.


The role of religion is first seen through the view that people have towards the events of a disaster. The view that individuals adopt determines how they deal with the unfortunate events associated with the trauma that disaster causes. In most religions, the events of a disaster are analyzed based on a religious viewpoint. The disaster is seen as an act of God, which is sent to test their faith in the supernatural being to offer allegiance. As a result of some people being unable to deal with the effects of a disaster, they associate the events with God's acts, which means they cannot change the course of action the disaster comes with. Instead, they are encouraged to become stronger as it is seen as a test of their faith. From a religious perspective, people should maintain a positive opinion regarding how they can deal with the events leading to, during and after the disaster occurs. The role of faith believes that there is something good that will come out of the disaster. For example, that may take the form of restoration from loss of life, damaged property, or acknowledging the help of God as they survived the unfortunate events.

In most religions, it is believed that disasters are sent by God to either punish people for their sins or to test their faith. In such a case, the role of religion is to give a favorable explanation of what is the cause of the disaster that the people are facing. In such a case, the people of faith are to give hope that there will be a favorable turn of events relating to the disaster. Faith is the belief that the supernatural being in which people believe in will offer much-needed help. In the absence of faith, the people would have no hope during the disaster in the middle of the unfortunate events. That would have limited the possible interventions that come from the mindset adopted by the victims of the disaster. Therefore, faith and religion's role is to change the view or perspective adopted by individuals before, during and after the disaster.


There are different stages of a disaster, in which the role of faith and religion are displayed in different ways. The stages have unique attributes, which call for different interventions from a religious perspective. In this case, there are three major phases of a disaster where an individual's faith comes in handy. First, there is disaster planning, where individuals foresee or anticipate the unfortunate events caused by a disaster. The second stage is disaster management, where the disaster occurs. That is the major phase of a disaster because in it here that the individuals face the real effects of the disaster that has affected them. That is the middle phase, which blends the effects and characteristics of all phases. Lastly, there is the disaster recovery phase that individuals face. Here, individuals face the aftermath of a disaster, which in most cases, is trauma and loss. The various phases have distinct characteristics, which call for different faith and religious interventions too. In the absence of faith or religious beliefs, then individuals would have handled the unfortunate events in very different ways. That is likely to cause more damage, leading to hopelessness and lacking hope of any help.

In this case, the phase of emphasis will be disaster response, which takes care of how people react to the effects of a disaster. Disaster response is the greatest aspect of the disaster because it is in that phase that people have to battle the real effects of a disaster. The strategies that people adopted in the disaster preparation phase are called into action in this part. Faith and religion are called into action in this phase, as there is a practical approach to the events associated with the disaster. For example, if the disaster deals with an earthquake, disaster response will deal with coping with the various forms of the loss coming from destruction (Sipon et al., 2015, 358). For example, people might have lost property and lives. There is a lot of pain and suffering that the people deal with in that phase. It calls for the practical application of faith in disaster response or management. Based on various religious teachings and principles, an individual is in a better position to cope with the disaster's events. Without faith, there is a high probability that the individual may not have a solid basis of justifying, or coming to terms with the loss that befell them.


For there to be adequate intervention for the parties faced by a disaster, there needs to be an analysis of their needs, which have to be dressed differently. Some people may need different types of interventions, depending on the magnitude of the disaster and the effect it has had on them. Therefore, there should be an analysis of the psychological effects that the disaster has had on them, to design an effective form of intervention. In the absence of an adequate understanding of the people's psychological needs, then the individuals' needs might not be addressed effectively (Bolin & Bolton, 1986, 39). Based on the effects of a disaster on individuals, here may be the need for different degrees of trained individuals. That falls into four major categories, on which basis the people may receive adequate intervention from another party. The role of intervention is to compliment an individual's spirituality in the way they are addressing a disaster that has affected them.

Level one is composed of individuals with minimal training; who are volunteers for taking care of individuals' spiritual needs following the events of a disaster. The parties receiving help perceive them as individuals of integrity; who can offer the much needed spiritual advice they need to overcome the trauma resulting from the disaster. That is based on the competencies they have, people after the disaster. First, they are competent in prayer, which adds to the spiritual nature of the people faced by a disaster. Through prayer and supplication, the individuals feel relieved from the adverse effects of a disaster. Furthermore, they are conversant with the experience, whereby they have an adequate understanding of a disaster's psychological effects. That way, they are able to give advice to the victims on how to cope with the losses they have suffered. Needs assessment and referral for better care are the other capabilities the individuals' have advanced complications from the disaster.

The second level in offering spiritual intervention for individuals is the Para-professionals and Chaplains. These are elders, highly trained deacons, healthcare professionals, and the clergy. These professionals have more training and experience in dealing with individuals during times of a disaster. That is based on the training they have received and the experience gained over a long time. The primary factor involving the clergy is the spiritual dimension they add to disaster relief. Spirituality is meant to bring hope and offer comfort to the individuals faced by a disaster's events. On that basis, individuals feel relieved from suffering. The clergy give examples of people in the Bible that were faced by disaster and were successful in finding solace in religion. The examples give hope to the people; based on their faith (Simons, 2018, 9). An example is a catastrophe like Katrina, where most victims sought relief from their faith, through external interventions. They have the same intervention with the level one expert but have the aspect of emotional first aid. They analyze an individual's nature, the suffering they are facing, and the intervention they may need. They offer spiritual help, in addition to material support, which helps individuals get better with time.

The third and fourth levels are composed of chaplains with leadership and management experience and other professionals. That is the highest level of interventions that people receive after the events of a disaster. Building on the level of competencies in level 1, the professionals' craft interventions can help individuals overcome the effects of a disaster in society. For example, they assess family systems to find ways they can spiritually intervene and address their spiritual needs. Furthermore, there is spiritual care and assessment of some survivors, who will take care of other survivors after the professionals are gone. That helps increase the effectiveness of the interventions by the professionals as they delegate the task of spiritual care to individuals within the community. The people on the ground have a better understanding of the needs people have, which helps them intervene adequately. Moreover, there is the provision of multi-faith spiritual care, which helps address different spiritual dimensions among individuals (Danbolt, 2012, 6). Therefore, it is evident that the interventions help in enabling the people to face the losses after a disaster.

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