Special Issue "Religion and Public Health Threats in the 21st Century"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2022) | Viewed by 4861

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Magdalena Szaflarski
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sociology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-1152, USA
Interests: sociology at intersection of religion and health; religion/spirituality and HIV; spirituality in medicine; congregational health programming; faith community–academic health partnerships

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The focus of this issue is on the role of religion in addressing public health threats plaguing societies in the 21st century. Past books or edited volumes provide overviews of religion as a social determinant of public health; scientific evidence of the religion–health link; spirituality’s role in medicine; and religion connections with specific health areas (e.g., mental health, adolescent health). This volume will emphasize religion connections to key public health challenges in the last two decades, including but not limited to the current COVID-19 crisis.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified nine public health outbreaks and threats, including: addictions (especially the opioid crisis), infectious diseases (HIV, measles), immunization/vaccination gaps, and pregnancy-related deaths among racial/ethnic minorities. Other countries or regions may have similar or other public health challenges. In the 2010s, the world also faced the Ebola outbreak, and other disease outbreaks were being forecasted. Religion has known relevance in addictions, infectious diseases, reproductive health, and other areas, and it has now been shown to play a significant role in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, though scientific evidence in this area is still limited.

This Special Issue will include theoretical and empirical scholarly work examining the relevance of religion in major public health challenges facing countries around the world. Although the current-day contexts (e.g., COVID-19) are especially important to understand, a trajectory of work since the turn of the century will allow constructing a more complete picture of the contemporary (recent and current) and future directions of science on religion and public health. The purpose of this volume is not only to tighten the knowledge base but also to have this knowledge guide social interventions. Thus, each paper will consider the social implications of work being presented.

This volume aims to include original papers from a variety of sociocultural and religious contexts, theoretical perspectives, and methodological approaches (quantitative, qualitative, mixed-method, community-engaged research, intervention trials, etc.). By including a broad range of perspectives (disciplinary and cross-cutting), and focusing on key ongoing and current public health issues, this volume will be a useful and needed contribution to religion and religion–health studies, public health, and other disciplines working at the intersection of religion and health (sociology, psychology, health policy, health care, etc.).

We welcome preliminary submissions of proposals for articles (up to 300 words) and will provide feedback and suggestions. You can reach the guest editor at [email protected]

Dr. Magdalena Szaflarski
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • religion
  • religions
  • religiosity
  • spirituality
  • religion/spirituality
  • faith
  • religious organizations
  • organized religion
  • faith-based organizations
  • faith communities
  • faith traditions
  • denominations
  • congregations
  • health
  • public health
  • health care
  • medicine
  • epidemics
  • pandemics
  • COVID-19
  • HIV
  • mental health
  • addictions
  • reproductive health
  • health policy

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Clergy Perceptions of Mental Illness and Confronting Stigma in Congregations
Religions 2021, 12(12), 1110; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12121110 - 17 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1110
Abstract
Mental illness and stigma are key concerns in congregations and represent important threats to community health. Clergies are considered influential in how congregants think about and respond to mental health issues, especially in African American congregations. In-depth interviews with 32 African American and [...] Read more.
Mental illness and stigma are key concerns in congregations and represent important threats to community health. Clergies are considered influential in how congregants think about and respond to mental health issues, especially in African American congregations. In-depth interviews with 32 African American and White clergies were conducted to understand their unique perspectives on mental health and how they interact with their congregations based on those perspectives. Findings include six themes related to mental health stigma, namely, holistic definitions of health; African Americans and different conceptions of mental health (only reported by African American clergies); code words and language; depression as a special case; perceptions of mental health counseling and treatment; and clergy strategies for addressing mental health stigma. The clergies in this study recognized their influence on ideas related to mental health in their congregations, and most expressed active efforts toward discussing mental health and reducing stigma. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Public Health Threats in the 21st Century)
Article
Global Contexts: How Countries Shape the COVID-19 Experience of Amish and Mennonite Missionaries Abroad
Religions 2021, 12(10), 790; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100790 - 22 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1013
Abstract
Across the globe, governments restricted social life to slow the spread of COVID-19. Several conservative Protestant sects resisted these policies in the United States. We do not yet know if theology shaped the resistance or if it was more a product of a [...] Read more.
Across the globe, governments restricted social life to slow the spread of COVID-19. Several conservative Protestant sects resisted these policies in the United States. We do not yet know if theology shaped the resistance or if it was more a product of a polarized national political context. We argue that the country context likely shapes how conservative Protestants’ moral worldview affects their perceptions of the pandemic and government restrictions. Countries implementing more regulations, those with limited access to healthcare, food, and other essential services, and those with past histories of epidemics may all shape residents’ perceptions. Drawing on the case of American Amish and Mennonite missionaries stationed abroad, we content-analyzed accounts of the pandemic from an international Amish and Mennonite correspondence newspaper. We found that the missionaries’ perceptions of the pandemic and governmental restrictions differ from those of their U.S. counterparts, which suggests that context likely shapes how religious moral worldviews express themselves concerning public health interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Public Health Threats in the 21st Century)
Article
“I Discovered I Love to Pray Alone Too”: Pluralist Muslim Women’s Approaches to Practicing Islam during and after Ramadan 2020
Religions 2021, 12(9), 784; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090784 - 17 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1185
Abstract
Public health guidelines implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way many people practice religion. In the realm of Islam, practices from the margins—attending online mosques and prayer groups, or praying alone—suddenly became commonplace. This paper addresses the question: What religious processes [...] Read more.
Public health guidelines implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way many people practice religion. In the realm of Islam, practices from the margins—attending online mosques and prayer groups, or praying alone—suddenly became commonplace. This paper addresses the question: What religious processes have become more evident among pluralist Muslim women during the pandemic? Based on 34 open-ended online surveys completed by pluralist Muslim women living chiefly in the USA and the UK, our analysis evidences the existence of four narratives that reflect fluctuations in the intensity and type of religious practice. The first and most prominent narrative in our dataset conveys enthusiastic embrace of social-distanced practices; the second describes a profound sense of aberration impossible to overcome in spiritual ways. The third highlights that for some Muslims, the pandemic brought no changes, as they continued to be isolated from their communities. The fourth is focused on an affirmation of a “remote” sociality experienced online. While some respondents acknowledge the increased individuation in their religious practice, they also find fulfilment in collective, if transformed, sociality. The changes in social interaction have led to a re-evaluation of salient aspects of their religious identity or, alternatively, highlighted longstanding modalities of exclusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Public Health Threats in the 21st Century)
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