- Religious Studies; Center for Religion and the Human
- IU Bloomington
Sycamore Hall, Rm. 217
I am interested in religion as a broad and complex social and cultural phenomenon that both generates law and is regulated by law. My particular research interest is in understanding the phenomenology of religion under the modern rule of law. I have training in law and in religious studies and have taught both in law school and in religion departments. I practiced law after graduating from law school before returning to graduate school to study religion. My training in the academic study of religion is in two fields, American religious history and the comparative study of religion. I focus on the intersection of religion and law in the U.S. within a broader comparative field, both theoretically and cross-culturally. Within legal studies, my work falls broadly within socio-legal and critical legal studies.
I am the author of three books analyzing legal discourses about religion in the context of actions brought to enforce the religion clauses of the First Amendment and related legislation: Paying the Words Extra: Religious Discourse in the Supreme Court of the United States (Harvard 1994), The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton 2005), and Prison Religion: Faith-based Reform and the Constitution (Princeton 2009). Each of these books offers a close reading of the texts of a US religion case using the resources of legal anthropology, socio-legal studies and the academic study of religion, with a view to displaying the multiple and contending models of and discourses about religion there represented. My goal in each case was to situate and critique American law about religion, setting that law in the context of American religious and legal history, and the scholarship about them. My fourth book, A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care, and the Law (Chicago 2014), portrays the chaplain and her ministry as a product of the legal regulation of religion and as a form of spiritual governance. Forthcoming is a co-authored work, Ekklesia: Three Inquiries in Church and State (with Paul Johnson and Pamela Klassen)(Chicago 2018) I am also co-editor of three volumes, After Secular Law (Stanford 2011), Varieties of Religious Establishment (Ashgate 2013), and Politics of Religious Freedom (Chicago 2015).
At Indiana I teach courses on religion and law, the politics of religious freedom, the history and phenomenology of Christmas as a church/state event, the trial of Joan of Arc, and contemporary theories of religion.