Category: United States


Kyle Roberts on Evangelical Gotham

Gotham. The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps.  New York City. We have many images of New York City, but how many of us as thinking of that worldly city having a vibrant evangelical community in the 19th century?  Kyle Roberts, an assistant professor of history at Loyola University (Chicago), takes us on a journey […]

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Timothy Neary on Race, Sports, and Catholics

Prof. Timothy Neary (Salve Regina University) takes us back to Chicago during the mid-20th century to discuss the creation of the Catholic Youth Organization by Bernard Sheil, and how this sports-oriented organization helped to bridge racial divides in a rapidly changing city. We cover the life and times of Bishop Sheil, some interesting facts on the popularity of boxing, and the legacy of this important religious outreach effort.

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Daniel Dreisbach on Biblical Rhetoric in the Founding Era

What role did the Bible play in the rhetoric of the Founding Era of the United States? Prof. Daniel Dreisbach discusses how various themes and particular passages of the Scriptures were used by political leaders during the late 18th and early 19th century to help frame the creation of a new republic. He argues that verses found in Micah, Proverbs, and other places were used frequently to connect to a larger political conversation with the American people regarding the nature of the United States, the importance of virtue in its citizenry, and why the diffusion of power was important. We also chat about the role of religion during presidential inaugurations.

Search our archives for more great topics related to this episode and many other subjects!

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Paul Harvey on Religion in the American South

“The South” is commonly referred to as the Bible Belt in the United States today, and despite New England having a more explicit Christian identity during colonial times, the region from Virginia down to Florida and out to Texas has been shaped by religious dynamics from its most early days.  Prof. Paul Harvey, professor of […]

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Lerone Martin on Preaching on Wax and Phonograph Religion

Beginning in 1925, Columbia Records and a number of other independent record labels began to record and distribute the sermons of African American preachers. These recordings became enormously popular and represented a “folk worship” stream of African American religiosity in the first half of the 20th century. Dr. Lerone Martin (Danforth Center, Washington University) explains the origins of this phenomenon that lasted for several decades, as well as the dynamics and lasting impact of “phonograph religion.” We include three clips from popular preachers in our interview, and more can be found on by clicking “read more” below.

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Frank Newport on Survey Research and American Religiosity (Encore Presentation)

Encore Presentation: Dr. Frank Newport, the Editor-in-Chief at Gallup, discusses the process of public opinion research and what it tells us about America’s changing religious landscape. We spend a significant amount of time discussing how polls are conducted, what their limitations are, and how survey companies like Gallup try to overcome these problems. This is a fantastic primer for those who are unfamiliar with survey research. We spend the second half of the interview discussing Dr. Newport’s book, “God Is Alive & Well,” which argues that America is still a vibrantly spiritual nation.

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Laura Olson on Attitudes towards Religious Free Exercise

What do public school teachers think about the ability to exercise religious expression in the classroom? Prof. Laura Olson of Clemson University discusses her study on the attitudes teachers have towards the free exercise clause in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Dr. Olson contextualizes this issue in recent Supreme Court cases and the a decision by a public employee in Kentucky to refuse issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. We also discuss religious voting trends in light of the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

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Maureen Fitzgerald on Irish Nuns and Welfare

Irish immigration during the 1840s and afterwards had an important effect on the cultural, economic, and political history of the United States. Prof. Maureen Fitzgerald (College of William & Marry) discusses how Irish nuns worked with poor immigrants and the effect they had on transforming New York’s welfare system over the course of the 19th and early 20th century. This seldom told story illuminates the important role women religious played in advocating for women, children, and families during a period of rapid change in American society.

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Joseph O. Baker on American Secularism

America has become less religious in recent years. To explore this phenomenon, both in its present form and situated historically, we invite Prof. Joseph O. Baker of Eastern Tennessee State University to talk about the history and contemporary dimensions of American secularism(s). He notes that secularism does not necessarily mean atheism, but includes an array of different categories. We also discuss some of the reasons for the recent increase in “nones,” including family structure, changing sexual norms, and political polarization.

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Sung Joon Jang on the Boy Scouts of America (Encore Presentation)

In this encore presentation from 2012, Prof. Sung Joon Jang discusses his recent study on Eagle Scouts and the Boy Scouts of America, conducted by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion with Byron Johnson and Young Il-Kim. The report focused on the effect that Scouting has on developing the behavior and character of young men, particularly those who earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Prof. Jang details a list of pro-social behaviors that are associated with Eagle Scouts well into their adulthood and compares these traits with individuals who were in Scouting but never obtained Eagle and the general population. The results are fascinating and contain a few surprises.

We will return next week with a brand new episode. Please stay tuned and tell a friend.

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