Category: Race & Ethnicity


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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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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Roger Luckhurst on Zombies!

The walking undead have swept popular culture in the form of books, movies, and comics in recent decades. Prof. Roger Luckhurst (University of London) discusses the origins of the zombi(e) narrative and how it has developed over time, examining how the cultural and socio-political context of the time drove how we looked at the “unhuman other” and how we envisioned ourselves. We encounter a number of very interesting literary characters along the way and discuss why movies such as “Dawn of the Dead,” “28 Days Later,” and “Warm Bodies” played important roles in rethinking what it means to be dead, yet not dead.

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Brandon O’Brien on Paul Behaving Badly

Paul was a central figure in the progress of early Christianity. Looking back at his writings with 21st century eyes and sensibilities, we often see an individual who was arrogant, gruff, misogynistic, and even racist. Prof. Brandon O’Brien puts Apostle Paul into context for us and discusses his book “Paul Behaving Badly” (co-authored with E. Randolph Richards). We learn about Paul’s history, his cultural context, how he could have written letters while imprisoned in Rome, and whether or not we should pay any heed to what he said back then for our lives today.

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Colleen Haight on Jewish Peddlers in 19th Century America (Encore Presentation)

In 19th century America, Jews disproportionately filled an important role in the US economy as peddlers and merchants who brought supplies to settlers in the westward expansion. Prof. Colleen Haight of SJSU explains the logic behind this phenomenon and links it to the economics of religion and the role that religious distinctiveness played in solving reputational problems. She also addresses the matter of hostility towards Jews and how this factored in to their chosen profession. This is an encore presentation from the autumn of 2014.

We will return on July 24th with new episodes. In the meantime, search our archives!

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Joseph Castleberry on the New Pilgrims

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, president of Northwest University, discusses how the recent wave of immigrants have been revitalizing religion in America, both spiritually and in terms of civil religion. He connects this revitalization back early “great awakenings” in American history that were spurred by waves of individuals coming to America in search of greater opportunity, and relays stories of how the “new pilgrims” are planting churches and inspiring success.

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Bradley Wright on Religion, Race, and Discrimination

When it comes to welcoming a stranger to a new church, are mainline churches, evangelicals, or Catholics more likely to discriminate based upon racial-sounding names? Prof. Bradley Wright (Connecticut) reveals the findings from his field experiment designed to answer this question. We discuss the methodology of this study and how a focus on structural versus interpersonal justice may have affected the surprising results. Prof. Wright also gives us a brief taste of what is happening with his other innovative research project, SoulPulse, and how listeners can participate.

Click “read more” to discover Prof. Wright’s books and information about participating in SoulPulse.

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John Inazu on the Four Freedoms, Religious Liberty, and Assembly

Prof. John Inazu of Washington University Law School (St. Louis) explains how four of the main freedoms contained in the US Constitution’s First Amendment are interrelated and how a series of court cases during the latter half of the 20th century has boiled down these separate, but related, freedoms into a single free speech dimension. Our primary focus is on the relationship between the free expression clause and the freedom of assembly, though other issues come into play. We review important court cases from Roberts v Jaycees to Hosanna-Tabor.

Browse our vast archives to find many more interesting episodes.

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