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J Relig Health. 2013 Jun;52(2):368-85. doi: 10.1007/s10943-013-9699-9.

Engaging the faith community for public health advocacy: an agenda for the Surgeon General.

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Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97236, Waco, TX 76798, USA.


This article proposes an agenda for the Surgeon General of the United States that is consonant with the traditional public health approach of "upstream" and "midstream" intervention addressing social and institutional determinants of health. Accordingly, this features a prominent role for expanded partnerships between the faith-based and public health sectors. Such an agenda would revise the current status quo for the Surgeon General, whose celebrated bully pulpit is currently focused more on encouraging "downstream" compliance with federal guidelines related to lifestyle behavior modification. A new faith-based agenda, by contrast, could more effectively advocate for core features of the traditional public health ethic, including primary prevention, the multiple determinants of population health, communitarianism and social justice, and a global perspective, supported by the historic prophetic role of the faith traditions.

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