My research interests center on the relationship between religion and law in America. I’m curious about the way in which the category of “religion” has been understood in U.S. culture. In particular, I’m interested in how the U.S. government decides what counts as “religious,” and the legal frameworks it builds to engage religious people, ideas, and institutions. I’ve written on how this intersects with major facets of American life, including an essay on “Race, the Law, and Religion in America” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. I’ve also looked at how religion and the law powerfully influences American education, both historically and today.
My first book explored how conflicts over America’s religious diversity were formative influences on the development of U.S. intelligence. You can learn more about this research in Errand into the Wilderness of Mirrors: Religion and the History of the CIA.
My next book project looks at how Americans have studied, mocked, engaged, and understood “world religions” (or what’s sometimes called the “world religions paradigm”) in U.S. history. I’ve been interested in these issues for a while now, as you can see from some of my older blog posts.