Health promotion perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic: The importance of religion

Glob Health Promot. 2021 Mar;28(1):15-22. doi: 10.1177/1757975920972992. Epub 2020 Nov 23.


In this article we examine the importance of religion for COVID-19 health promotion. We advance three main arguments. First, religion plays an important role in affecting how likely it is that people will become infected with COVID-19. Second, religion should not be seen as a 'problem' with regards to COVID-19 but as an important part of the worldview and lifestyle of many people. Third, there are valuable health promotion lessons we can learn not only from the intersection of religion and other infectious diseases, but also from approaches taken within science education. Contentious science topics such as evolution and vaccine hesitancy have been effectively communicated to those with a religious faith who are disposed to reject them by reframing and considering religion as a worldview and treating those who do not accept standard scientific theories sensitively. Religion has much to contribute to health promotion, including introducing perspectives on life's meaning and on death that can differ from those held by many without religious faith. Furthermore, religious leaders are important gatekeepers to their communities and can therefore play a vital role in policy implementation, even when that policy makes no overt reference to religion. Our contention is that by working with those of faith in the context of COVID-19, health promotion can be enhanced.

Keywords: COVID-19; complexity theory; health promotion; public health; religion; sensitivity.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Health Promotion* / methods
  • Humans
  • Religion*