The Annual Distinguished Lecture on Religion and Public Life brings a distinguished scholar to campus each year for a public talk of relevance to both scholars of religion and the general public. The event is sponsored in part by the Rufus Monroe and Sofie Hougaard Paine Lectures in Religion, and often co-sponsored by a number of departments and programs from across the MU campus. For a list of recent lectures please see below.

Upcoming Lectures on Religion and Public Life

Dr. Kathryn Gin Lum Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford; Title TBA, Wednesday, 20 March 2024.

Recent Lectures on Religion and Public Life

Dr. Annette Yoshiko Reed, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Harvard Divinity School. "Demonology from the Dead Sea Scrolls to QAnon." Tuesday, 14 March 2023. 101 Swallow Hall. 7:00 pm.

Dr. Andrew Whitehead, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives ( at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University, Indianapolis. "Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States." Thursday, 10 February 2022, 101 Swallow Hall, 6:00 pm.

Dr. Sylvester Johnson, Professor and Director for the Center for the Humanities at Virginia Tech. The title of the lecture is "From the Fetish to the Cyborg: Religion, Necropolitics, and the Digital Future of Humanity." Monday, April 22, 2019, 7:30 pm.   

Dr. Edward Curtis IV, Millennium Chair of the Liberal Arts and Professor of Religious Studies at the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts will speak about "Blood Sacrifice & the Myth of the Fallen Muslim Soldier in the U. S. Presidential Elections After 9/11". Thursday, April 12, 2018 7:30pm   

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University and Affiliated Professor of Law, Maurer School of Law. Death-Qualifying the Jury, Constituting the People. April 6, 2017.   

Judith Weisenfeld, Agate Brown and George L. Collard Professor of Religion, Princeton University. Apostles of Race: Religion and Black Racial Identity in the Great Migration.  April 12, 2016.   

Davíd Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America, Harvard University. Borderlands, Migrant Saints, Sacred Bundles: Latinos and the Remaking of American Religiosity,  April 7, 2015.      

Edward Linenthal, Professor of History, Indiana University. The Predicament of Aftermath: Oklahoma City and 9/11,  April 28, 2014.    
Video of Dr. Linenthal's lecture can be found here.       

Stephanie Kaza, Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Vermont. Responding to Environmental Challenges: Insights from Zen Buddhism,  April 18, 2013.   
Video of Dr. Kaza's lecture can be found here.       

Mark Chancey, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University. Educating for a ‘Christian America’:  Religion and the Texas Social Studies Controversy, March 1, 2012.   
Video of Dr. Chancey's lecture can be found here.    
[There was no Distinguished Lecture on Religion and Public Life in 2011]   

Mark Juergensmeyer, Director of Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies, Professor of Sociology, Affiliate Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. Global Rebellion: Religious Challenge to the Secular State. Thursday, April 7, 2010.   

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Candler Professor of Law, Emory University. Muslims and the Secular State: Dynamics of Majority/Minority Situations.  Monday, April 20, 2009.   

Robert Wuthnow,  Andlinger Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Princeton University. The Global Reach of American Christianity, Monday, 14 April 2008.