Education

  • Ph.D., M.A. University of Southern California
  • B.A. Pepperdine University

Background

The focus of my research and teaching is race, religion, and social change. I am most invested in uncovering the dynamics of contemporary issues like inequality, religious innovation, and political power. My courses resource students to think for themselves, are often seminar style, and are best characterized by a cooperative process of critical thinking and analytical dialogue.

At Davidson College, I was honored in 2009 for my teaching and scholarship with the L. Richardson King Professorship and then later in 2021 with the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professorship. I remain active in scholarship through a broad range of research projects which have been generously funded, especially by the Religion Division of Lilly Endowment Inc. My leadership experience in professional associations includes: President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (2021-2024), Editor of Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review (2012-2021), Chair of the Religion Section of the American Sociological Association (2019-2021), Co-Chair the Religion and Social Science Program Unit of the American Academy of Religion (2009-2016), and Executive Council of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (2007-2010). I am serving a third term on the Advisory Board of the Louisville Institute (2014-2023), providing millions of dollars in research grants to those who lead and study American religious institutions, and newly appointed to the Board of Directors for PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) (2021-present), a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. conducting independent and rigorous research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy. These academic activities build on my formative experience as a Congregational Studies Team Fellow (2005-2007) and Core Member (2011-2015).

In addition to speaking engagements, consultations, peer-reviewed articles, and grant-funded research, much of my scholarship and teaching is represented in the books I have written:

  • A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church (Indiana University Press)
  • Hollywood Faith: Holiness, Prosperity, and Ambition in a Los Angeles Church (Rutgers University Press) 
  • Worship across the Racial Divide: Religious Music and the Multiracial Congregation (Oxford University Press)
  • The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity, co-authored with Gladys Ganiel (Oxford University Press)
  • Latino Protestants in America: Diverse and Growing, co-authored with Mark T. Mulder and Aida I. Ramos (Rowman & Littlefield)
  • American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion, and the Trump Presidency (Rowman & Littlefield) 
  • The Glass Church: Robert H. Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral, co-authored with Mark T. Mulder (Rutgers University Press)
  • Robert H. Schuller and Church Growth Christianity: Library of Religious Biography, co-authored with Mark T. Mulder (Wm. B. Eerdmans, forthcoming)