“Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health” Conference

Religion and public health are not often considered together, in scholarship or in practice. Each community may regard the other with skepticism or give them little thought at all.  And yet, religious practices and communities around the globe have a daily impact on their health of their populations, and in some quarters there are long-standing partnerships between faith communities and public health agencies. This conference brings together scholars in public health, religious studies, theology, medicine, nursing, law, ethics, anthropology, and sociology to discuss the new book, Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health (Oxford University Press, 2014), and map the sometimes contentious, sometimes cooperative intersection of these two sectors.

Co-sponsored by: Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, The Hightower Fund, Interfaith Health Program, Department of Sociology, and the Center for Ethics
The Book

In the fall of 2010, Ellen Idler, Director of the Religion and Public Health Collaborative and Professor of Sociology, convened an interdisciplinary faculty seminar at Emory that explored both the positive and negative intersections of religion and public health.  Faculty from the schools of public health, theology, medicine, nursing, and the graduate school met monthly, discussing the complex relationship of religion and public health, two institutions that often share common interests but sometimes find themselves in opposition.  What was clear at the outset was this: religion was an invisible and unacknowledged but utterly crucial social determinant of public health.   Over the next 3 years, this book was written by this amazing group of scholars; in these pages, there are 35 voices that speak to practice, history, the lifecourse, global health, epidemics, and the future.  Published on September 1, 2014 by Oxford University Press, the edited volume entitled Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health is the definitive book for this field of inquiry.


Preface: Religious Literacy is a Twenty-First–Century Skill – Ellen Idler and Laurie Patton

Chapter 1.—Religion: The Invisible Social Determinant – Ellen Idler

Part I. Public Health in the Practices of the World’s Faith Traditions

Daily Religious Practices

Chapter 2.—Refuge Meditation in Contemporary Buddhism – Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi and Brendan Ozawa-de Silva
Chapter 3.—Taiji (T’ai-chi) in Taoism – Eric Reinders
Chapter 4.—Veiling in Islam: A Western Feminist Outsider’s Perspective – Kathryn M. Yount
Chapter 5.—Vegetarianism in Seventh-day Adventism – George H. Grant and Jose Montenegro

Weekly Religious Practices

Chapter 6.—The Eucharist in Roman Catholicism – Phillip M. Thompson
Chapter 7.—Congregational Hymn Singing in Mainline Protestantism – Don E. Saliers

 Annual Religious Practices

Chapter 8.—Hatsumōde, or Visitation of Shinto Shrines: Religion and Culture in the Japanese Context – Chikako Ozawa-da Silva
Chapter 9.—Fasting in Islam – Abdullahi An-Na’im

One-Time Religious Practices

Chapter 10.—Circumcision in Judaism: The Sign of the Covenant – Don Seeman 
Chapter 11.—Puberty Rites in African Religious Traditions: Kloyo Peemi – Emmanuel Yartekwei Amugi Lartey
Chapter 12.—Baptism by Immersion in Latin American Evangelical Pentecostalism: The Santa Cruz Case – Wesley de Souza 
Chapter 13.—Cremation Rites in Hinduism – Bhagirath Majmudar

Part II. Religion in the History of Public Health

Chapter 14.—Christian Commitment to Public Well-Being: John Wesley’s “Sensible Regimen” and “Primitive Physick” – Karen D. Scheib 
Chapter 15.—US Public Health Reform Movements and the Social Gospel – John Blevins 
Chapter 16.—Anthony Comstock: A Religious Fundamentalist’s Negative Impact on Reproductive Health – Lynn Hogue and Carol Hogue

Part III. Religion and Public Health across the Life Course

Chapter 17.—Religion and Reproductive Health – Laura M. Gaydos and Patricia Z. Page 
Chapter 18.—Religion and Physical Health from Childhood to Old Age – Ellen Idler 
Chapter 19.—Religion, Spirituality, and Mental Health: Toward a Preventive Model Based on the Cultivation of Basic Human Values – Brendan Ozawa-de Silva

Part IV. Religion and Public Health across the Globe

Chapter 20.—Religion and Global Public Health – Peter J. Brown 
Chapter 21.—The Christian Medical Commission and the World Health Organization – Matthew Bersagel Braley
Chapter 22.—Ingenious Institutions: Religious Origins of Health and Development Organizations – Ellen Idler
Chapter 23.—Mapping Religious Resources for Health: The African Religious Health Assets Programme – James R. Cochrane, Deborah McFarland, and Gary R. Gunderson

Part V. Religion and Three Public Health Challenges of Our Time

Chapter 24.—HIV/AIDS – Safiya George Dalmida and Sandra Thurman 
Chapter 25.—Influenza Pandemic – Mimi Kiser and Scott Santibañez 
Chapter 26.—Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementias – Kenneth Hepburn and Theodore Johnson

Conclusion: Religion’s Role as a Social Determinant of Twenty-First–Century Health: Perspectives from the Disciplines – Paul Wolpe, Walter Burnett, and Ellen Idler

Wednesday November 5, 2014 – CNR Auditorium – Rollins School of Public Health

6:00    Remarks from the Provost and Deans: Claire Sterk, Jan Love, Cathryn Johnson, James W. Curran
6:30    Keynote address: “Building Traditions” William H. Foege, MD, MPH

Thursday, November 6, 2014 – Cox Hall Ballroom

Preface and Introductory chapter. Religious Literacy is a 21st Century Skill and Religion: the Invisible Social Determinant

8:30    Welcome and plan for the conference
8:40    Chair’s Introduction to Chapter 1 and introduction of speaker: Richard M. Levinson, Public Health
8:50    Invited speaker’s perspective on Chapter 1: David R. Williams, PhD, MPH, Harvard University
9:20    Authors respond: Ellen Idler, Laurie Patton
9:35    Discussion
10:00  Break

Part I.   Public Health in the Practices of the World’s Faith Traditions

10:20  Chair’s Introduction to Part I and introduction of speaker: Gary Laderman, Religion
10:30  Invited speaker’s perspective on Part I: Nancy Ammerman, PhD, Boston University
11:00  Authors respond: Geshe Lobsang Negi, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, Eric Reinders, Kathryn M. Yount, George H. Grant, José Montenegro, Phillip M. Thompson, Don E. Saliers, Chikako Ozawa-de Silva, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Don Seeman, Emmanuel Y.A. Lartey, L. Wesley de Souza, Bhagirath Majmudar
11:30  Discussion

12:00  Lunch

Part II.  Religion in the History of Public Health

1:15    Chair’s Introduction to Part II and introduction of speaker: Ellen Ott Marshall, Theology
1:25    Invited speaker’s perspective on Part II: Amy Laura Hall, PhD, MDiv, Duke University
1:55    Authors respond: Karen D. Scheib, John Blevins, Lynn Hogue, Carol Hogue
2:15    Discussion
2:45    Break

Part III. Religion and Public Health across the Life Course

3:00    Chair’s Introduction to Part III and introduction of speaker: Hannah Cooper, Public Health
3:10    Invited speaker’s perspective on Part III: Linda Waite, PhD, University of Chicago
3:40    Authors respond: Laurie M. Gaydos, Patricia A. Page, Ellen Idler, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva
4:00    Discussion
4:30    Break

Thursday Evening – CNR Auditorium – Rollins School of Public Health

6:00    Remarks and Introduction of Keynote speaker: Isam Vaid, Office of Religious Life
6:10    Keynote address:  “A House for the Sick and Poor: Hospitals, Religion, and Charity in a Topography of Public Health” – Ahmed Ragab, MD, PhD, Harvard Divinity School

Friday, November 7, 2014 – Cox Hall Ballroom

Part IV. Religion and Public Health across the Globe

8:30    Chair’s Introduction to Part IV and introduction of speaker: Stan Foster, Public Health
8:40    Invited speaker’s perspective on Part IV: Rev. Canon Ted Karpf, Boston University
9:10    Authors respond: Peter J. Brown, Matthew Bersagel Braley, Ellen Idler, James R. Cochrane, Deborah McFarland, Gary R. Gunderson,
9:40    Discussion
10:15  Break

Part V.  Religion and Three Public Health Challenges of Our Time

10:30  Chair’s Introduction to Part V and introduction of speaker: Rev. Barbara A. B. (Bobbi) Patterson, Religion
10:40  Invited speaker’s perspective on Part V: Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes, Vanderbilt University
11:10  Authors respond: Sandra Thurman, Safiya George Dalmida, Mimi Kiser, Scott Santibañez, Ken Hepburn, Ted Johnson
11:40  Discussion

12:10  Lunch

Concurrent Sessions:

1:30    Religious Leaders panel: What are the implications of this work for congregations and faith-based organizations?

Chair: Rev. Bridgette Young Ross, Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life, Emory University
Community religious leaders: Mr. Tom Andrews, Mercy Care; Rabbi Analia Bortz, Congregation Or Hadash; Brad Schweers, Intown Collaborative Ministries; Rev. Byron Thomas, Ben-Hill United Methodist Church

1:30    Emory Faculty – Student panel: What are the implications for preparing students for these professions? How can we best promote interdisciplinary learning experiences?

Chair: Roger W. Rochat, PhD, Professor of Global Health
Faculty: Elizabeth M. Bounds, Theology; Charles E. Moore, Medicine; Edward L. Queen, Ethics
Students: Anushka Aqil, Public Health; Lara Martin, Cultural Anthropology and Public Health; Barrett Smith, Theology

3:00    Break

Conclusion. Religion’s Role as a Social Determinant of Twenty-First–Century Health: Perspectives from the Disciplines
3:15    Introduction to Conclusion and introduction of speaker: Kathy Kinlaw, Ethics
3:25    Invited speaker’s perspective on the Conclusion: Lydia L. Ogden, PhD
3:55    Authors respond: Paul Root Wolpe, Walter Burnett, Ellen Idler
4:15    Discussion
4:45    Concluding remarks and thank yous: Ellen Idler

  • Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, PhD. Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, School of Law, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • John Blevins, ThD. Associate Research Professor of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Matthew Bersagel Braley, PhD. Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wisconsin.
  • Peter J. Brown, PhD. Professor of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Walter M. Burnett, PhD. Professor of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • James R. Cochrane, PhD. Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • James W. Curran, MD, MPH. Dean and Professor of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Safiya George Dalmida, PhD. Assistant Professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • L. Wesley de Souza, PhD. Arthur J. Moore Associate Professor in the Practice of Evangelism, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Laura M. Gaydos, PhD. Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • George H. Grant, PhD. Clinical Assistant Professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Gary R. Gunderson, DDiv, MDiv. Vice President, Division of Faith and Health Ministries, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  • Kenneth Hepburn, PhD. Professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Carol J.R. Hogue, PhD, MPH. Jules and Uldeen Terry Professor of Maternal and Child Health and Professor of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • L. Lynn Hogue, PhD. Professor of Law Emeritus, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Ellen Idler, PhD. Professor of Sociology and Director, Religion and Public Health Collaborative, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Theodore M. Johnson II, MD, MPH. Paul W. Seavey Chair in Medicine and Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Mimi Kiser, DMin, MPH. Assistant Professor of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Emmanuel Y.A. Lartey, PhD. Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care, and Counseling, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Bhagirath Majmudar, MD. Professor of Pathology, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Deborah A. McFarland, PhD, MPH. Associate Professor of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • José Montenegro, MDiv. Chaplain, Emory Center for Pastoral Services, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD. Senior Lecturer in Religion and Director, Emory-Tibet Partnership, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, PhD. Associate Professor of Psychology, Life University, Marietta, Georgia.
  • Chikako Ozawa-de Silva, PhD. Associate Professor of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Patricia Z. Page, MS, CGC. Director, Genetic Counseling Services, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Laurie L. Patton, PhD. Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.
  • Eric Reinders, PhD. Associate Professor of Religion, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
    Don E. Saliers, PhD. William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology Emeritus, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Scott Santibañez, MD, MPH, TM, MA. Associate Director of Science, Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infection, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Karen Scheib, PhD. Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Don Seeman, PhD. Associate Professor of Religion, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Phillip M. Thompson, PhD. Executive Director, Aquinas Center of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Sandra L. Thurman, MA. Director, Interfaith Health Program and the Joseph Blount Center for Health and Human Rights, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Paul Root Wolpe, PhD. Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics and Director, Center for Ethics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Kathryn M. Yount, PhD. Asa Griggs Candler Chair of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Nancy Ammerman, PhD

Nancy Ammerman is Professor of Sociology of Religion at Boston University’s School of Theology and in the Department of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her most recent book Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life (Oxford University Press, 2013) explores the many ways religion and spirituality are part of the everyday world of work, home, health, and public life. Her previous work focused on American religious organizations, especially congregations and their local community engagements. Her 2005 book, Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and their Partners (University of California Press) describes the organizational networks that enable a vast array of service. It was honored with the Distinguished Book award by the Religion Section of the American Sociological Association. That work followed research projects on local religious change and on conservative religious movements, including Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention (Rutgers University Press, 1990).

William Foege, MD, MPH

William H. Foege is an epidemiologist who worked in the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.   Dr. Foege became Chief of the CDC Smallpox Eradication Program, and was appointed Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in 1977.  He attended Pacific Lutheran University, received his medical degree from the University of Washington, and his Master’s in Public Health from Harvard University. Dr. Foege has championed many issues, but child survival and development, injury prevention, population, preventive medicine, and public health leadership are of special interest, particularly in the developing world.  He is a strong proponent of disease eradication and control, and has taken an active role in the eradication of Guinea worm, polio and measles, and the elimination of river blindness.  Dr. Foege is the recipient of many awards, holds honorary degrees from numerous institutions, and was named a Fellow of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1997, and in 2012, he was awarded the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom.  He is the author of more than 125 professional publications. Dr. Foege is currently Presidential Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Health at Emory University and resides in Atlanta, GA.

Amy Laura Hall, PhD, MDiv

Amy Laura Hall is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke University. She was named a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology for 2004-2005 and has received funding from the Lilly Foundation, the Josiah Trent Memorial Foundation, the American Theological Library Association, the Child in Religion and Ethics Project, the Pew Foundation and, most recently, the Project on Lived Theology.  At Duke University, Professor Hall has served on the Steering Committee of the Genome Ethics, Law, and Policy Center and as a faculty member for the FOCUS program of the Institute on Genome Sciences and Policy. She has served on the Duke Medical Center’s Institutional Review Board and as an Ethics Consultant to the V.A. Center in Durham. She currently serves as a faculty adviser with the Center for Class, Labor, and Social Sustainability and with the Duke Center for Civic Engagement. Dr. Hall served on the Bioethics Task Force of the United Methodist Church, and has spoken to academic and ecclesial groups across the U.S. and Europe.

Rev. Canon Ted Karpf

The Reverend Canon Ted Karpf is recently retired from Boston University’s School of Theology, but continues as adjunct instructor of Religion, Public Health, and International Development.  A priest of the Episcopal Church since 1972, he is Canon for Life of the Diocese of Washington and served as a missionary from the Episcopal Church and as Deputy to the Archbishop of Cape Town/Provincial Canon Missioner for HIV/AIDS in the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa. Rev. Karpf completed a 30-year public health career at the World Health Organization in Geneva in 2010 as Partnerships Officer, having worked for two U.S. Surgeon Generals in the U.S. Public Health Service. He received a special acknowledgement from the Secretary General of the United Nations for developing and defining the role of faith-based health service organizations in the international health agenda. He is chief editor of Restoring Hope: Decent Care in the Midst of HIV/AIDS (2008), a project of the Ford Foundation and WHO. Rev. Karpf currently resides in northern New Mexico where he is engaged in writing and contemplative prayer.

Lydia L. Ogden, PhD

For more than three decades, Lydia Ogden has worked in public health, from direct service delivery to political theater (often euphemistically termed “government relations”), including two White House stints. She now leads vaccine global public policy at Merck, expanding access to immunizations worldwide. She has a doctorate in health services research and health policy from Emory; a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; a master’s degree in Literature from Vanderbilt University; and a bachelor’s degree in English and Education (K-12) from Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. Ogden holds an adjunct faculty appointment at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. She has published in Health AffairsNature Medicine, the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Public Health Management and PracticeMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, and Publius: The Journal of Federalism, and authored chapters in Emerging Illnesses and Society and World Health Systems: Challenges and Perspectives.

Ahmed Ragab, MD, PhD

Ahmed Ragab is a physician, historian, and scholar of the medieval and modern Middle East, with a medical degree from Cairo University and a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science from the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. Dr. Ragab’s work includes the history and development of medieval Islamic sciences, the relationship between science and religion in the medieval and modern Middle East, the history of medieval Islamic hospitals, and the intellectual and cultural history of women in the region. His forthcoming book, Medicine, Religion and Charity: a History of Medieval Islamic Hospitals, analyzes the history of hospitals in the Middle East, and the interactions of medicine and religion in hospital practice (Cambridge University Press, 2015). He is currently working on a new book project, In the Name of God the Healer: Prophetic Medicine in the Medieval and Modern Middle East. Dr. Ragab also published and taught on global medicine, and history of epidemics.

Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes

Emilie M. Townes, a distinguished scholar and leader in theological education, is Dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Her teaching and general research interests focus on social ethics, womanist ethics, critical social theory, and cultural theory and studies, as well as on postmodernism and social postmodernism. Her specific interests include health and health care, the cultural production of evil, and developing a network between African Americans and Afro-Brasilian religious and secular leaders and community based organizations. She is the first Black woman to serve as president of the American Academy of Religion (2008) and is the current president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion (2013-2016). Rev. Dr. Townes was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She is the author of Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health and a Womanist Ethic of Care. Her most recent book is Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil.

Linda Waite, PhD

Linda Waite is the Lucy Flower Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago and NORC, where she directs the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP), which is supported by a MERIT Award to Waite from the National Institute on Aging. MERIT Awards, which recognize outstanding investigators, are given to fewer than 10% of those with NIH grants. Dr. Waite works on social connections, sexuality, and health and aging, with a focus on the ways that the social world gets under the skin to affect health. She has published recently on the link between social networks and control of hypertension, the link between marital quality and cardiovascular disease, and the mediation of the negative effect of poor physical health on marital quality by sexuality and good psychological health. With William Dale, Judith Graham, Martha McClintock, and Edward O. Laumann, she is working on a book on reconceptualizing health at older ages.

David Williams, PhD, MPH

David R. Williams is the Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health, African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University. His prior academic appointments were at Yale University and the University of Michigan. He holds master’s degrees in public health and divinity and a PhD in sociology. The author of more than 350 scientific papers, Dr. Williams has studied the association between individual religious involvement and health and the ways in which the clergy can affect health. He directed a national study of forgiveness and health and is co-editing (with Loren Toussaint and Everett Worthington) a forthcoming book on forgiveness and health. Dr. Williams is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was ranked as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences in 2008 and as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds in 2014.