Moral, environmental, and physical contamination

Africana religions and public health before and during the COVID-19 pandemic


  • Danielle N. Boaz



African diaspora religions, public health, superstition, animal sacrifice, child custody


In 2020, global restrictions on religious gatherings raised questions regarding the extent to which governments could restrict religious liberty to protect the pub- lic. Although the COVID-19 pandemic heightened public awareness about such issues, African diaspora religions had already been widely persecuted as “super- stitions” that posed a threat to public health from the 18th century to the early 20th century. This article argues that discrimination against Africana religions has continued in the 21st century using similar rhetoric, as private citizens and governments in the Atlantic world have restricted religious practices that they claim threaten moral, environmental, and physical health.

Author Biography

Danielle N. Boaz

Danielle N. Boaz is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.