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. Brandy Daniels
Dr. Brandy Daniels is the Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Public Religion with the Project. She earned her PhD in Theological Studies (with a minor in Ethics & Society and a certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies) from Vanderbilt University, where she was a fellow in the Program in Theology and Practice.Her research focuses on theological anthropology, methodology, and practices of formation — exploring intersections between constructive and political theologies and feminist and queer theories to better understand and envision accounts of faithful religious identity and community amidst difference.

She is currently working on her first monograph, a revision of her dissertation, tentatively titled, Who is the “We?” Formation and the Future in (of?) Feminist Theology. Brandy has published on topics ranging from Bonhoeffer and Foucault on racial identity, to poststructuralism and liberation theology, to Eastern Orthodox apophatic theology and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, and is under-care for ordination with the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church). She is also an avid runner and Jeopardy fan.

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





Graduate Research Assistant Evan Sandsmark
Evan Sandsmark is a doctoral student in Theology, Ethics & Culture at the University of Virginia.

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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