Professor, Religious Studies (Class III)
Laurie Maffly-Kipp’s research and teaching focuses on American religious history and culture. She is committed to teaching both students and the broader public about how the field of religious studies provides important tools for dealing with religious conflicts that have always been a part of society. Her work is embedded in the tensions of a government valuing religious freedoms and rejecting a religious establishment that necessitates vigilance, discussion and education around issues of cultural and religious difference. As chair of the department of Religious Studies, Maffly-Kipp has sought ways to educate various communities about religious diversity and, specifically, to encourage people to learn how to openly discuss religious differences without falling into debates over absolute truth. Her research on African-American religions, Mormonism, and race and religion in U.S. history has resulted in numerous books and articles for both scholarly and broader audiences.
As a Faculty Engaged Scholar, Maffly-Kipp has focused on reaching out to a variety of national and international audiences. She has led seminars for high school teachers around the nation on religion in U.S. history, in order to help facilitate their discussions of religious belief and practice in the classroom. During the latest presidential election, she has written articles for The New York Times and the Congressional Quarterly on Mormonism, and has served as a consultant for journalists seeking information on the Mormon faith. She also has given talks internationally and online to audiences seeking better understanding of the nature of religious faith in American political life.
“My participation in the Faculty Engaged Scholars program, and particularly conversations with other scholars interested in reaching beyond the walls of the university, not only gave me new ways to think about my research and its significance, but also inspired me to consider all of my work in terms of broader outcomes. I was encouraged—indeed pushed—to think more creatively and imaginatively.”