Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Speaker Series

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The Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Speaker Series on Religion and Conflict is an endowed lecture series that honors the life-long commitment of Maxine Besser Marshall ('76) and Jonathan Marshall to education, civil liberties, and world peace.


Prosperity, Politics, and Pentecostal Power in Nigeria

Pentecostalism—the most rapidly growing religious movement in the world—has taken firm hold in Nigeria since 1999, and its churches and pastors play a significant role in reshaping and dictating the political framework and message in Nigeria.

With the 2019 Presidential elections in Nigeria looming, Professor Butler's talk will take a look at the religious and political landscape of Pentecostals in Nigeria, its movers and shakers, and how Pentecostals are involved in shaping political, social, and moral messages in Nigeria, all while amassing great wealth. Pentecostals will play a role in electing a president in Nigeria, and it is important to understand how religion and politics have come together in this West African Nation, and what the future may hold.


Anthea Butler Marshall Speaker in Religion and Conflict


Anthea Butler is professor of religious and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. A historian of American and African American religion, Professor Butler’s research and writing engages questions of religion and politics, gender, sexuality, media, and popular culture. She is the author of Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World and is currently completing a book project on religion, race, politics and evangelicals. Butler is currently a fellow with the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism and International Affairs Religion and International Affairs, with a focus on politics and the prosperity gospel in Nigeria. She regularly writes opinion pieces covering contemporary politics, religion, and race for The GuardianWashington Post, and The New York Times, as well as offers media commentary on the BBC, MSNC, CNN, and ABC.

In Search of Our Better Angels: A Story of American Civil Religion

Why is our country so polarized? Some say it is the result of a long-running battle between those who believe that the United States was founded as a secular democracy and those who believe it was established as a Christian nation. In his talk, Gorski will take up this question, arguing that our founding tradition was a synthesis of both sacred and secular sources. By reflecting on the history of this civil religious tradition from Puritan times through to the present day, he proposes an approach that he thinks might help heal our political divisions.

Philip Gorski In Search of Our Better Angels: A Story of American Civil Religion   Religion and Politics in the Era of Trump	Religion and Politics in the Era of Trump	Religion and Politics in the Era of TrumpPhilip Gorski In Search of Our Better Angels: A Story of American Civil Religion


Philip S. Gorski (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is a comparative-historical sociologist at Yale University whose work focuses on topics such as nationalism, revolution, state-formation, and economic development, with particular attention to the interaction of religion, politics, and the forces of secularization

Gorski’s work, which includes six books and numerous articles, has been reviewed in The American ConservativeThe Atlantic, The New York Timesand The Wall Street Journal. His writings, such as “Religion, Nationalism and Violence” and “Barack Obama and American Exceptionalisms,” have appeared in leading academic journals and edited volumes, and he recently appeared on the Charlie Rose Show to discuss his 2017 book, American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present.

"American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present," makes the case that the United States was founded on the vision of a "prophetic republic" that integrated both the ethical vision of the Hebrew prophets and the Western political heritage of civic republicanism. Gorski goes on to show how the founders’ original vision for America is threatened by an internecine struggle between two rival traditions: religious nationalism and radical secularism. Gorski's book, noted to be "essential reading for this moment" by the New York Times, offers an unsparing critique of both traditions, demonstrating how half a century of culture war has drowned out the quieter voices of the vital center.

Philip Gorski is Co-Director (with Julia Adams) of Yale’s Center for Comparative Research (CCR), and co-runs the Religion and Politics Colloquium at the Yale MacMillan Center

2019Prosperity, Politics, and Pentecostal Power in NigeriaAnthea ButlerVideo
2018In Search of Our Better Angels: A Story of America’s Civil ReligionPhilip GorskiVideo
2017Religion and Conflict: A View From the State DepartmentShaun Casey
2016Religious Violence in the Age of EnlightenmentBenjamin KaplanPodcast
2014America and the Religion of No Religion: Or How We Got to "I am Spiritual but Not Religious"Jeffrey KripalPodcast
2013Lifestyles of the (Not So) Rich and Religious: Theological Prosperity in an Age of Economic InequalityJonathan L. WaltonPodcast
2012Taking Women and Religion Seriously: Intersecting PathsKatherine MarshallPodcast
2011The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and IslamEliza GriswoldPodcast
2010Governing Religion: U.S. Foreign Policy in a Postsecular AgeElizabeth Shakman HurdPodcast
2009Private Faith/Public Faith: Religion and GovernmentDaisy KhanPodcast
2008Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari'aAbdullahi Ahmed An-Na'imPodcast
2007Sacred and Secular Refigured: Identity, Piety and Politics in a Global EraJean Comaroff
2006'If it Bleeds, it Leads': Does the Media Play a Role in Religious Violence?Diane Winston
2005Violence at the Threshold of the Sacred and the SecularRene Girard
2004Democracy and the Limits of PluralismRaphael Cohen-Almagor