The Project

The Project on Religion and Its Publics is a multi-year initiative dedicated to bridging the gap between the academic study of religion and public conversations about religion. It brings together scholars from across the United States and multiple disciplines in order to nurture scholarship and shape discussions of broad relevance to the world. We are based at the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion at the University of Virginia and sponsored by the Henry Luce Foundation. More…

Who We Are

pauldafyddCo-Director Paul Dafydd Jones
Paul Dafydd Jones is a British theologian whose teaching and research focus on Protestant theology in the modern West. Jones joined the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia in the autumn of 2006. He holds an M.A. in theology from Oxford University, an M.Div from Harvard Divinity School, and an A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. His first book was a study of Karl Barth’s Christology, The Humanity of Christ: Christology in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics. Currently he is working on two book-length projects. The first is an examination of Protestant views of the atonement; the second is a constructive theological exploration of patience.

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charlesmathewesCo-Director Charles Mathewes
Charles Mathewes is the Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.  He spent much of his childhood in Saudi Arabia, and was educated at Georgetown University and the University of Chicago.  He is the author of Evil and the Augustinian Tradition and A Theology of Public Life, both with Cambridge University Press; Understanding Religious Ethics from Wiley-Blackwell; and The Republic of Grace, from Eerdmans.  Among other edited volumes, he is the Senior Editor for a four volume collection on Comparative Religious Ethics: The Major Works for Routledge Publishers.  From 2006 to 2010, he was Editor of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the flagship journal in the field of religious studies, and was the youngest Editor ever appointed to lead that journal.  He was Chair of the Committee on the Future of Christian Ethics for the Society of Christian Ethics, the inaugural Director of the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, and he currently serves on the House of Bishops Theology Committee of the Episcopal Church.  He is currently finishing two books, one provisionally entitled The Future of Political Theology, the other provisionally entitled The Future of Christian Ethics.

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Associate Director Jane Little 
Jane Little is a journalist, broadcaster, moderator, and public speaker who combines knowledge of current affairs with expertise in religion, spirituality, women and health.

She founded the role of Religious Affairs Correspondent at the BBC World Service, and, after a decade of reporting from around the world, she went on to found the role of Religion Editor at the BBC/WGBH Boston co-production, The World.

The live news and current affairs programs she has hosted include Sunday, Woman’s Hour, Last Word, Americana, and The World Tonight.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr. Elisabeth Becker
Dr. Elisabeth Becker received her PhD in Sociology from Yale in 2018. While in residence as a postdoctoral fellow at UVA, she will complete her first academic book, Unsettled Islam: Virtuous Contention in European Mosques, based on 2.5 years of ethnographic study in two of Europe’s largest mosque communities, which is under contract with University of Chicago Press. Her academic work has been published by Ethnic & Racial Studies, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Social Science & Medicine, the International Journal of Islamic ArchitectureAnnals of Tourism Research and the Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion (forthcoming). Elisabeth has also written for mainstream outlets on issues related to diversity, inclusion, religion, migration and politics, with publications in The Washington Post, Tablet Magazine, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, UN Dispatch and Global Dialogue. Her trade book, On the Edge of the Worlds, chronicles inter-religious marriage in an increasingly divided world and is represented by Jessica Craig Literary.

Graduate Coordinator Mae Speight

Mae Speight is a doctoral student in American Religious History at the University of Virginia.





Graduate Research Assistant Kyle Nicholas

Kyle Nicholas is a doctoral student in Theology, Ethics & Culture at the University of Virginia.




Undergraduate Assistant Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee is an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, Class of 2019. She is studying finance and information technology.



Senior Fellows

The Senior Fellows Project Seminar gathers leading scholars in the field of Religious Studies three times a year. Collectively, the Fellows support each other’s work, read texts closely as a group, and work towards original ways of conceiving of issues in the fields of Theories of Religion and Public Theologies.

Elizabeth Bucar (Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Northeastern University)

Shaun Casey (U.S. Department of State, Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs; Professor of Christian Ethics, Wesley Theological Seminary)

Slavica Jakelic (Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Thought, Valparaiso University)

Thomas A. Lewis (Professor of Religious Studies, Brown University)

Vincent Lloyd (Associate Professor of Religion, Villanova)

Ted A. Smith (Associate Professor of Preaching and Ethics, Candler School of

Theology/Emory University)

Tyler Roberts (Professor of Religious Studies, Grinnell College)

Darlene Fozard Weaver (Professor of Theology, Duquesne University)

William Wood (Moody Fellow and Tutor in Theology, Oriel College, Oxford University)

Advisory Council

The Advisory Council provides much-needed direction and support for the Project at UVa.

Lawrie Balfour 
Professor, Department of Politics
University of Virginia

Kathleen Flake
Richard Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies
University of Virginia

Kurtis Schaeffer 
Professor, Religious Studies

Micah J. Schwartzman
Professor of Law
University of Virginia School of Law

Rebecca Stangl
Associate Professor
Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia