Religion in the American Experience
What Has Been the Role of Religion in Capitalism?

What Has Been the Role of Religion in Capitalism?

June 8, 2021

Capitalism – a massive influence in the American narrative; loved for driving innovations and raising the standard of living; plagued by the production of opulence and the economic inequality left in its wake. If we understand capitalism better, we understand America better. And, it turns out that religion has played and continues to play a significant role in economics, which is of great interest to this podcast series, “Religion in the American Experience.”

To better comprehend what is going on between religion and economics, we have with us today Professor Ben M. Friedman, the William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University, and author of Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Friedman has also written and/or edited fourteen other books, and more than 150 articles in professional journals, aimed primarily at economists and economic policymakers. His two other general interest books have been The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth and Day of Reckoning: The Consequences of American Economic Policy Under Reagan and After.

We guarantee that our time together today will help all of us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will come to better understand how revolutionary and indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its future.

Join us in building the “digital first” National Museum of American Religion by donating at storyofamericanreligion.org/contribute, where you can receive a free gift for a donation of $200 or more.

How Has Religion Influenced the Development of the U.S. Prison System?

How Has Religion Influenced the Development of the U.S. Prison System?

May 17, 2021

Americans have always thought hard about how to prevent crime and bring about justice, with the desire to create a flourishing society. The prison system is a critical part of the punishment and rehabilitation system in the United States, which has the largest prison population in the world and the highest per capita incarceration rate. Because of this and other reasons, there are often calls for "prison reform", as is the case today. As the country goes about this work, and because religious thought has always been part of the "crime and punishment" discussion in America, the Museum thought it would be helpful to better understand how religion has played a part in the development of the United States prison system over its history.

This afternoon we have a fantastic panel of scholars who will, in an hour!, help us do this, or at least scratch the surface!

Dr. Vincent Lloyd is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Theories & Methods of Culture, Director of Africana Studies at Villanova University, and co-author with Joshua Dubler, of Break Every Yoke: Religion, Justice and the Abolition of Prisons.

Dr. Jennifer Graber is a Professor in the History of Christianity and Interim Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Furnace of Affliction: Prisons and Religion in Antebellum America.

Dr. Andrew Skotnicki is a Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College and author of Conversion and the Rehabilitation of the Penal System: A Theological Rereading of Criminal Justice and of the forthcoming book Mental Illness, Prophecy and Incarceration: Injustice, Insight and Insanity.

What Roles Has Religion Played in the American Environmental Movement?

What Roles Has Religion Played in the American Environmental Movement?

May 4, 2021

Climate change is one of the dominant news stories of the 21st century. Rising sea levels, more fearsome and catastrophic hurricanes, drought, raging wildfires – there is so much here that seems to touch existential fears of humankind. The podcast series “Religion in the American Experience” wishes to understand how religion, one of the greatest forces in the nation’s history and that thing that more than anything else addresses existential questions, figures into American environmentalism, which meets climate change and other challenges facing planet earth, head on.

 

Today to help us at least begin to uncover some of the relationships between religion and environmentalism, is Mark Stoll, professor of history at Texas Tech University, and author of Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism. Mr. Stoll teaches about environmental history of the history of religion and is also the author of Protestantism, Capitalism, and Nature in America and co-editor with Dianne Glave, of To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History. He has a Ph.D. in history from The University of Texas at Austin.

 

We guarantee that our time together today will help all of us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will come to better understand how revolutionary and indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its future.

 

Join us in building The National Museum of American Religion in the nation's capital, to open in 2026, on the 240th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's immortal words "Almighty God hath created the mind free", by donating at storyofamericanreligion.org/contribute.

Why do we need the National Museum of American Religion?

Why do we need the National Museum of American Religion?

April 26, 2021

The "digital first" National Museum of American Religion addresses the critical gap in Americans' understanding of their own history - the story of what religion has done to America and what America has done to religion, including the establishment of the revolutionary and indispensable idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is perhaps the last great untold American story.

Our middle and high school history classes, as well as the beautiful museums of the nation's capital, do not fully reveal this tale, which captures the most influential force in our history, for good and ill - the last great untold American story. 

Understand America as you never have before.

 

 

How Has Religion Seen and Treated Mental Illness Throughout American History?

How Has Religion Seen and Treated Mental Illness Throughout American History?

April 20, 2021

There seems to be some sort of mental health crisis, especially among younger people, in the United States – with many experts blaming social media. Teen suicide is in the news, depression seems to be an ever-growing menace. Then COVID hit last year, which has exacerbated the problem.

Mental health has a special place as seen through the lens of religion – the sicknesses one can’t see, the depression, the darkness, all things “of the soul” are things religion naturally addresses.

At the Museum, we believe it will be instructive for all of us to better understand how religion has seen and addressed mental health throughout U.S. history so that  we are better equipped to address the mental health challenges of our present moment.

This morning we have a fantastic panel of scholars:

Dr. Judith Weisenfeld, Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She is the author of Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929-1949African American Women and Christian Activism: New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945, and New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration. Her current research examines the intersections of psychiatry, race, and African American religion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries;

Dr. Andrew Walker-Cornetta, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on how religious communities have shaped the history of disability in the United States. In August, he will begin a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Georgia State University.

Dr. Barbara McClure, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Practice at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, and author of Emotions: Problems and Promise for Human Flourishing. Her primary interests lie primarily in the meaning of and means toward human flourishing, respecting both the fractured character of human nature and the religious impulse for wholeness and coherence;

Dr. Kameelah Rashad, Founder and President of Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF) and the founding co-Director of the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology and Muslim Studies at Chicago Theological Seminary;

And, Dr. Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez, Associate Professor of Religion at Temple University, and author of The Valiant Woman: The Virgin Mary in Nineteenth-Century American Culture. She is currently a Scattergood Fellow working on a book entitled Challenging the Great Physician: Christian Responses to the Rise of Psychiatry in America.

The Making of US: Lived Religion in America with David Black

The Making of US: Lived Religion in America with David Black

April 12, 2021

Listen to David Black, an attorney from Great Falls, Virginia, talk about  religion's influence on him during his early life in the 1970s and 1980s and then during college and beyond, and how that makes him who he is today as an actor on the American stage.

Religion has profoundly influenced the sweeping American narrative, from the times of the Indigenous peoples to the present. The start-up digital-first National Museum of American Religion is the nationally recognized center for presenting, interpreting, and educating the public about what religion has done to Americans and what Americans have done to religion. It invites all to explore the role of religion and the freedom that fuels it, in shaping the social, political, economic and cultural lives of Americans and thus America itself.

The podcast series "Religion in the American Experience" is releasing the first episode of its new program, “The Making of US: Lived Religion in America”, which collects and disseminates personal stories about religion’s influence on the lives of the nation’s citizens. It is through hearing these stories that we can better comprehend ourselves, our communities and the nation, and see more clearly how the American project can endure.

 

America Still Believes: How Do Our Religious Views of End Times Affect American Political Behavior?

America Still Believes: How Do Our Religious Views of End Times Affect American Political Behavior?

April 5, 2021

We have all been part of the recent contentious U.S. presidential election, which finally ended in the transfer of power in January of this year. 

At the Museum we observed that, as usual, a colossal amount of energy, money, time, emotion, concern, debate, argument, Tweets, posts, letter-writing, editorializing, and protest were invested in the election and its outcome. America was all in. That is, Americans have a deep and meaningful allegiance to perfecting, preserving and perpetuating the American experiment in self-government. Some religious beliefs even tie into the country’s founding & purpose.

At the same time, however, we also noted that while that patriotic allegiance is powerful, for a large percentage of Americans, perhaps no longer a majority – at least according to a very recent report, there is most likely something that commands a greater allegiance – and that would be their faith. Many faiths have end-times theologies, including Christianity, which believes in an approaching end of the world and the return of Jesus Christ. So, it occurred to us that religious beliefs about the end of the world may play a large but hidden role in our politics – past, present and future.  

If we can understand some of the beliefs about the end of the world and their effects on political behavior, we will be better equipped as citizens trying to see to the success of the American project in the 21st century.

 

Today we have a fantastic panel of scholars who will, in an hour!, help us scrape the surface, maybe do a deep dive or two:

 

  • Matthew Sutton, the Berry Family Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts at Washington State and author of American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism
  • Matt Harper, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Mercer University and author of End of Days
  • Christopher Blythe, Research Associate at Brigham Young University’s Maxwell Institute and author of Terrible Revolution: Latter-day Saints and the American Apocalypse
  • Arlene Sanchez-Walsh, Professor of Religious Studies at Azusa Pacific University and author of Latino Pentecostal Identity: Evangelical Faith, Self, and Society
  • Jacqueline Keeler, writer and activist of Dineh and Yankton Dakota heritage, co-founder of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry (EONM), and author Standoff: Standing Rock, the Bundy Movement, and the American Story of Occupation, Sovereignty and the Fight for Sacred Lands
  • Larry Perry, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; currently working on a book entitled A Black Spiritual Leftist: Howard Thurman and the Religious Left’s Unfinished Business of Race Relations
  • William Dinges, Ordinary Professor of Religion and Culture at The Catholic University of America and co-author of Young Adult Catholics: Religion in the Culture of Choice
Minority American Religions and Their Foodways

Minority American Religions and Their Foodways

March 29, 2021

Food sustains physical life, and as such is of critical importance to each of us. Some in the country have an abundance; hunger gnaws at others: in which group we find ourselves determines much of our current existence. What we eat also touches on other aspects of our lives besides “need”: celebrations, emotional comfort, health, family traditions, and connections or “breaking bread” with others. For the purposes of this podcast series, we are interested in uncovering and understanding the connections between religion and food in the United States – what are they, what do they mean, and how significant are they?

To do a deep dive into just one aspect of this fascinating and meaningful subject, we have as our guest Kate Holbrook, currently managing historian in the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dr. Holbrook received her master’s degree at Harvard Divinity School and PhD in religion and society from Boston University in 2014. She is the author of many articles and chapters, and co-editor of several books, including At the Pulpit: 150 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women, Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, and The First Fifty Years of Relief Society. For our discussion today, we are looking at the chapter she wrote in the book Religion, Food & Eating in North America, called edited by Benjamin Zeller, Marie Dallam, Reid Neilson, and Nora Rubel published in 2014.

 

Today’s episode will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world.

God Says Come or God Says Stay Away: The History of Religion & Immigration in America

God Says Come or God Says Stay Away: The History of Religion & Immigration in America

March 22, 2021

America is a nation of immigrants, except for the Indigenous Peoples who were here before European colonization and the Africans brought here against their will and sold as enslaved people.

 

I just read this in the newspaper a few days ago “Administration short of shelter space amid ‘overwhelming’ [immigration] surge: record number of unaccompanied minors being held in adult cells far longer than legally allowed.” This morning’s paper had another front page piece on the surge at our southern border. Immigration reform is a major policy task of the current administration.

 

It is also important to note that there has been a recent rise in attacks against Asian Americans, addressed in an editorial of a major national newspaper over the weekend.

 

We feel that a better understanding of how religious beliefs have influenced the attitudes and government policies towards immigrants throughout U.S. history can benefit us in our present moment.

 

Today we have a panel of fantastic scholars who will help us do a deep dive:

 

Melissa Borja, Assistant Professor in the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan, and author of the forthcoming book Follow the New Way: Hmong Refugee Resettlement and Practice of American Religious Pluralism;

 

Grace Yukitch, Professor of Sociology at Quinnipiac University, and author of One Family Under God: Immigration Politics and Progressive Religion in America;

 

Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology at Purdue University, and author of Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities;

 

Shari Rabin, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Religion, and author of Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-century America;

 

Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Professor and Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Iowa, and author of the forthcoming book Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work, and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland.

 

And, Nick Pruitt, Assistant Professor of History at Eastern Nazarene College and author of the forthcoming book Open Hearts, Closed Doors: Immigration Reform and the Waning of Mainline Protestantism.

An Unusual Feast: Gumbo and the Complex Brew of Black Religion

An Unusual Feast: Gumbo and the Complex Brew of Black Religion

March 15, 2021

Food sustains physical life, and as such is of critical importance to each of us. Some in the country have an abundance; hunger or food insecurity gnaws at others: in which group we find ourselves determines much of our current existence. What we eat also touches on other aspects of our lives besides “need”: celebrations, emotional comfort, health, family traditions, and connections or “breaking bread” with others. For the purposes of this podcast series, we are interested in uncovering and understanding the connections between religion and food in the United States – what are they, what do they mean, and how significant are they?

To do a deep dive into just one aspect of this fascinating and meaningful subject, we have as our guest Derek Hicks, Associate Professor of Religion and Culture at Wake Forest University’s Divinity School. Hicks teaches and researches broadly in the areas of African American religion, religion in North America, race, the body, religion and foodways, theory and method in the study of religion, Black and Womanist theologies, and cultural studies. Dr. Hicks is the author of the book Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition and is currently working on a second monograph entitled Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and the Saga of Race in Black America. He also contributed chapters for the book Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions.

 

For our discussion today, we are looking at his chapter “Gumbo and the Complex Brew of Black Religion” from the book Religion, Food & Eating in North America, edited by Benjamin Zeller, Marie Dallam, Reid Neilson, and Nora Rubel.

 

I am confident that today’s podcast will help us better understand what religion has done to America, and what America has done to religion, and we trust that as a result, listeners will see how indispensable the idea of religious freedom as a governing principle, is, to the United States and its ability to fulfill its purposes in the world.

 

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