Religion in the American Experience

nationalmuseumofamericanreligion

Following scholars and others deep into United States religious history to assist citizens struggling with complex questions of governance and American purpose. read less
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Episodes

Pentecostalism and National Politics 2016-2022
May 28 2024
Pentecostalism and National Politics 2016-2022
As part of our multi-episode series about Pentecostalism – a relatively unknown and perhaps misunderstood, fast growing, and very large part of Christianity, we will be exploring Pentecostalism and its support of Donald Trump between 2016 and 2022. Valerie Cooper is associate professor of religion and society and black church studies at Duke Divinity School. Using historical and theological methodologies, her wide-ranging scholarship examines issues of religion, race, politics, and popular culture. She has published essays on African American evangelicals (particularly in Pentecostalism and the Holiness Movement), on African Americans’ use of the Bible, and with political scientist Corwin Smidt, co-authored an essay on the roles of religion and race in the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. Her article on “Black Theology” is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Political Theology. Her book, Word, Like Fire: Maria Stewart, the Bible, and the Rights of African Americans, analyzes the role of biblical hermeneutics in the thought of Maria Stewart, a pioneering 19th-century African American woman theologian and political speaker. Cooper is currently working on Segregated Sundays, a book evaluating the successes and failures of the racial reconciliation efforts of Christian congregations and ministries from the 1990s to the present. Dale Coulter is an ordained minister in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) and professor of historical theology at Pentecostal Theological Seminary. He studied the Middle Ages while completing his DPhil at the University of Oxford. Much of his work has centered on the twelfth century abbey of St. Victor, having published a monograph on Richard of St. Victor. His most recent work is a collection of essays he co-edited titled, The Spirit, the Affections, and the Christian Tradition. He has authored a popular work on holiness and occasionally writes at the online platform for the journal First Things, which is published by the Institute for Religion and Public Life. He has also written articles for outlets such as The Washington Post, Christianity Today, The Stream, Keryx, and Seed Bed. He is a past president of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Dale has also served as co-editor of PNEUMA: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (2010-2015) and currently serves on its editorial board. He is also involved in ecumenical discussions between Orthodox and Pentecostals as well as a participating member of Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
Religion and the Great Depression, Part I
Apr 10 2024
Religion and the Great Depression, Part I
Lodged firmly in the American psyche and a bedrock part of American history, is the Great Depression. Beginning with the stock market crash in October of 1929 - the market lost 50% of its value in weeks - and lasting a decade, it was the worst calamity to hit the United States since the Civil War. Unemployment soared, farms went under, long bread lines formed, people up and left their homes for a better place, and poverty skyrocketed. The emotional toll on millions was just as severe. For us the question is, in what ways did religion – one of the greatest and most ubiquitous forces in American history – react to the Great Depression? Understanding this will help us comprehend religion’s role in the American project, equipping us to be perpetuate and perfect it more successfully into the 21st century. As part of our multi-episode series about religion in the Great Depression, Dr. Alison Greene is here to help us understand how the Depression and the New Deal changed the southern Protestant establishment in the Mississippi Delta region. It is a fascinating story. Dr. Alison Collis Greene is Associate Professor of American Religious History at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and is an affiliated faculty member in the Department of History at Emory College of Arts and Sciences. She teaches United States religious history, with interests in American religions as they relate to politics, wealth and poverty, race and ethnicity, the environment, and the modern rural South. She is author of No Depression in Heaven: The Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Transformation of Religion in the Delta (Oxford, 2016), as well as a number of essays and articles on modern United States religious history in both scholarly and popular outlets. Dr. Greene is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Southern Religion.
The Religion of Thomas Jefferson
Mar 6 2024
The Religion of Thomas Jefferson
Who is Thomas Jefferson? He is the author of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States, founder of the University of Virginia, slaveholder, has a monument in Washington DC and his face on our five-cent coin, and is one of the four presidents carved in stone at Mt. Rushmore – along with George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. He has also been called the American Sphinx, because a complete understanding of him has been somewhat elusive. For the National Museum of American Religion our questions are these: what was Thomas Jefferson’s religion and what impact did it have on him personally and on his public actions? Answers to these questions will give us a better understanding of Jefferson and the American project he helped establish and equip us to help guide the American experiment in self-government successfully through the 21st century. To answer these and related questions, Tommy Kidd is here with us! Dr. Thomas S. Kidd is research professor of church history at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, and a senior research scholar at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion. Kidd completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Notre Dame, where he worked with the historian of religion George Marsden. He received a B.A. and M.A. at Clemson University. He is a prolific author and has written, among other books, Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh – the focus of today’s interview; Baptists in America: A History (with Barry Hankins), George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father, and American Christians and Islam. He has written for outlets including the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Kidd teaches courses on colonial America, the American Revolution, and American religious history.
The Making of US: Lived Religion in America with Kristy Nabhan-Warren
Feb 15 2024
The Making of US: Lived Religion in America with Kristy Nabhan-Warren
Iowa is lodged firmly in the American psyche as a place of traditional American values – hard work, family, and religion. Iowa is an important player in the United States’ vaunted agricultural industry, having been ranked first in the country in soybean production, corn production, and pork production. America has also slowly learned over the past decade, with ICE raids and COVID, is that a significant number of immigrants and refugees do the difficult and hazardous work of slaughtering and processing the meat products we purchase at our local grocery store. What is of interest to us at the National Museum of American Religion is whether religion plays critical roles in the lives of these workers, and if so, how.   To help us understand this, we have with us today Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Professor and the inaugural V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Iowa, and author of Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland. Kristy received her PhD from the University of Indiana; her research interests include American Religions; Ethnographic approaches to the study of religion; Catholic Studies; Latinx Studies. She is committed to making scholarship meaningful to non-academics as well as academics, and prides herself on writing for a wide audience. She works hard to stay true to her working class and Midwestern roots. She embraces a Humanities for the Public Good approach to her research, writing, and dissemination of information.
Religion & the American Presidency: Jimmy Carter
Sep 27 2023
Religion & the American Presidency: Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States and served from 1977 to 1981, which term included the Iranian hostage crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Camp David Accords, finalization of the Panama Canal Treaties, and the 1979 energy crisis. His post-presidency work is considered the most influential and significant of any American president, channeled through the Carter Center, which idea came to him in the middle of the night not long after he left office. He was also the first “born again” Christian elected to office. In order to better understand how religion influenced Jimmy Carter, we have with us today Randall Balmer, the John Phillips Chair in Religion at Dartmouth and a prize-winning historian, Emmy Award nominee, and author of Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter, a religious biography of the former president. Dr. Balmer earned the Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 and taught as Professor of American Religious History at Columbia University for twenty-seven years before coming to Dartmouth in 2012. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond, and Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America. Dr. Balmer is also an ordained Episcopal priest.
Religions’ Role in Native American Boarding Schools
Mar 21 2022
Religions’ Role in Native American Boarding Schools
The recent discoveries of unmarked graves at the sites of four former residential schools in western Canada have shocked and horrified Canadians and the world. This has spurred an interest here in the United States to understand the history of our Native American boarding schools in the 19th and 20th centuries. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies. Since many of these schools were run by religious orders, the National Museum of American Religion felt that it would would be helpful if we convened a panel of experts to discuss religion’s role in our Native American boarding school history. We’ll answer questions at about the fifty minute mark, so submit them in the chat window. We have with us today the following experts: Ashley Dreff is the General Secretary of the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church. Previously she was an Assistant Professor of Religion and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at High Point University.  Dr. Bradley Hauff is Episcopal Church Missioner for Indigenous Ministries and a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff. As Missioner for Indigenous Ministries, Rev. Hauff is responsible for enabling and empowering Indigenous peoples and their respective communities within the Episcopal Church. He holds a Master of Divinity from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary & a Doctor of Clinical Psychology from Minnesota School of Professional Psychology of Argosy University. Farina King, is of English-American descent, born for Kinyaa'anii, or the Towering House Clan, of Dine' (Navajo). She is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. & Associate Professor of History at Northeastern State University in Talequah, homelands of the Cherokee Nation and United Keetowah Band of Cherokees Brenda J. Child is Northrop Professor of American Studies and former chair of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940. Dr. Child served as a member of the board of trustees of the National Museumof the American Indian-Smithsonian. She was born on the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation in northern Minnesota Christine Diindiisi McCleave is an Indigenous consultant, and a doctoral student in Indigenous Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a focus on healing historical trauma through the use of traditional plant medicines. She is the former CEO of the National Native American Boarding Schooling Healing Coalition