Religion & Culture Forum

Studying Religion in the Era of Trump — a Scholars’ Roundtable

For this month’s issue of the Forum, we invited a small cadre of religion scholars to participate in a “scholars’ roundtable” reflecting on the implications of a Trump presidency for the academic study (and teaching) of religion. Throughout February and March we will be publishing pieces by a diverse group of scholars in the fields of religion and religious studies. Each scholar has been invited to share how the “Trump phenomenon” will shape (or has already shaped) their particular research, teaching, and activism as scholars of religion. Sarah E. Fredericks, Assistant Professor of Environmental Ethics at the Divinity School, closes out the series by offering a response to the posts. We invite you to join the roundtable conversation by sharing your thoughts in the comments sections on the Forum site.

Contributions to the roundtable:

  1. Anthony M. Petro (Boston University), “How Not to be a (Religious Demographic) Size Queen in an Epidemic”
  2.  Kent Brintnall (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), “It’s Complicated”
  3. Jawad Anwar Qureshi (University of Chicago), “‘I think Islam hates us’: Teaching Islam in an Islamophobic Era”
  4. Arlene Sánchez-Walsh (Azusa Pacific University), “Writing Latinxs into the Canon”
  5. L. Benjamin Rolsky (Drew University), "Taking Conservatism Seriously in the Era of #MAGA"
  6. Sarah E. Fredericks (University of Chicago), "A Response to the Roundtable"

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Anthony M. Petro is an assistant professor in the Department of Religion and in the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at Boston University. His teaching and research interests include religion and culture in the United States; religion, medicine, and public health; and gender and sexuality studies. His first book, After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion (Oxford, 2015), investigates the history of U.S. American religious responses to the AIDS crisis and their role in the promotion of a national moral discourse on sex. He has published essays on a number of topics, including histories of Catholic sexual abuse, critical disability studies and religion, and approaches to studying race, gender, and sexuality in North American religion.


Kent Brintnall is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he is affiliated with the Department of Religious Studies and the Women's & Gender Studies program. He is the author of Ecce Homo: The Male-Body-in-Pain as Redemptive Figure (Chicago, 2011) and co-editor of Sexual Disorientations: Queer Affects, Queer Temporalities, Queer Theologies (Fordham, forthcoming 2017) and Negative Ecstasies: Georges Bataille and the Study of Religion (Fordham, 2015). He is currently working on a monograph that engages the work of Georges Bataille, psychoanalysis, and queer theory on the importance of grappling with the intractability of violence for thinking about political possibility.


Jawad Anwar Qureshi is a doctoral candidate in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. His areas of research pertain to Qur’anic studies, Sufi literature, and Islamic revival and reform. His dissertation explores debates amongst 20th-century Syrian ‘ulama on issues related to law, ethics, tradition, and politics, focusing on the exchanges between Syria’s most prominent religious scholar in the last half of the 20th century—Said Ramadan al-Bouti (1924-2013), rahimahu Allah—and his interlocutors. He is also currently assistant professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American Islamic College in Chicago.



asanchez-walsh-291glgq.jpgArlene M. Sánchez-Walsh is associate professor of religious studies at Azusa Pacific University. She is the author of the award-winning book, Latino Pentecostal Identity: Evangelical Faith, Self, and Society. She has authored over a dozen articles and book chapters on the subject of Latino/a religion and has served as a media expert for outlets such as the New York TimesWall Street Journal and On Being with Krista Tippett. Sánchez-Walsh’s current projects include a monograph on Latino/as, American exceptionalism, and the prosperity gospel. Her book, Pentecostalism in America, will be published in late 2017 by Columbia University Press.


20170305_114949-1hs7ylt-150x150.jpgL. Benjamin Rolsky is a recent graduate from Drew University’s PhD program in American Religious Studies. His work has appeared in a variety of popular and academic venues including Method and Theory in the Study of Religion and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion as well as The Christian CenturyThe Norman Lear Center, and The Marginalia Review of Books. His research and teaching interests include religion and politics, the study of popular culture, and critical theory. He is currently working on a manuscript entitled, “Norman Lear and the Spiritual Politics of Religious Liberalism.” Once complete, he plans to begin research on a second book project that examines the history of the Christian Right across the 20th century entitled, “Inventing the Christian Right: A Religious History of the Public Square.”

fullsizeoutput_390-15oi332-150x150.jpegSarah E. Fredericks is Assistant Professor of Environmental Ethics at the Divinity School. Her research focuses on sustainability, sustainable energy, environmental guilt and shame, and environmental justice. Professor Fredericks is the author of Measuring and Evaluating Sustainability: Ethics in Sustainability Indexes (Routledge, 2013), and articles in Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and CultureInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and World EcologyEnvironmental Justice, and Ethics, Policy, and Environment. Fredericks co-edits a book series, Religious Ethics and Environmental Challenges (Lexington Press), with Kevin O’Brien.


photo image: Trump photo (Ralph Freso | Getty)

About the Forum

The Martin Marty Center's Religion & Culture Forum is an online forum for thought-provoking discussion on the relationship of scholarship in religion to culture and public life. Each month the Marty Center, the research arm of the University of Chicago Divinity School, invites a scholar of religion to comment on his or her own research in a way that "opens out" to themes, problems, and events in world cultures and contemporary life. Scholars from diverse fields of study are invited to offer responses to these commentaries.

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The Religion & Culture Forum is edited by Joel A. Brown, Divinity School PhD student in Religions in America. Emily D. Crews, Divinity School PhD candidate in the History of Religions, was the previous editor.