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Juan Floyd-Thomas

Associate Professor of African American Religious History
Affiliate Faculty, Religious Studies
On leave Spring 2023

In his teaching and research interests as a religious historian, Prof. Floyd-Thomas emphasizes: race, ethnicity, and religious pluralism within the modern United States; the history of new / alternative religious movements; the varieties of African American religious experience; critical discourses on religion and popular culture; and African American churches and sociopolitical reform; religion and economics; religion and international relations; and interdisciplinary theories and methodological approaches within religious studies. He holds a B.A. from Rutgers University, a M.A. from Temple University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to his numerous journal articles and book chapters, Prof. Floyd-Thomas is author of The Origins of Black Humanism: Reverend Ethelred Brown and the Unitarian Church (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and Liberating Black Church History: Making It Plain (Abingdon Press, 2014) as well as co-author of Black Church Studies: An Introduction (Abingdon Press, 2007) and The Altars Where We Worship: The Religious Significance of Popular Culture in the United States with Mark Toulouse and Stacey Floyd-Thomas  (Westminster John Knox, 2016). Most recently, Prof. Floyd-Thomas co-edited Religion in the Age of Obama with Anthony B. Pinn (Bloomsbury Press, 2018). He is currently working on two book projects: a history of African diasporic religions in Harlem; and a collection of essays on white supremacy, Christian nationalism, and violence in the ongoing Culture Wars.

Prof. Floyd-Thomas has delivered papers and lectures at numerous colleges, universities, and seminaries across the United States as well as international locales such as Canada, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Jamaica, Senegal, Ghana, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. From 2008-2011, Prof. Floyd-Thomas served on the cultural resources team of the African American Online Lectionary. Furthermore, his work can be found in such media outlets ranging from the Washington Post, Esquire, Boston Globe, NPR’s All Things Considered, and WBEZ’s Sound Opinions to name a few.

Currently, Floyd-Thomas serves as the Vice President of the Society for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion (SRER) and is also member of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), Organization of American Historians (OAH), American Historical Association (AHA), American Society of Church History (ASCH), and Collegium of African American Research (CAAR). He also serves as an Associate Editor of the AAR’s Reading Religion website. In 2018, Floyd-Thomas was inducted into the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. College of Ministers and Laity, Collegium of Scholars. Additionally, he is both a co-founder and an executive board member of the Black Religious Scholars Group (BRSG). 

Floyd-Thomas has had his research supported by fellowships and grants from the Louisville Institute, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and the Robert Penn Warren Center for Humanities at Vanderbilt University. He was named the Sankofa Scholar by Candler School of Theology’s Black Church Studies Program in 2016 and 2019. More recently, he delivered the 2021 Williams Institute Lectures at Methodist Theological School in Ohio as well as the Convocation Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary's 2022 Engle Institute of Preaching.

Selected Courses

  • Seminar on the Study of Religion
  • Black Religion in America
  • Critical Readings in African American Religion: W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Moral Philosophy of Black Popular Culture
  • Race and Religion in America
  • Race, Religion, and Protest Music
  • Black Churches and the Quest for Economic Justice
  • Black Prophetic Discourses: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin
  • Cultural Significations and Black Religion
  • Reel Black Faith: Race, Religion, and Film
  • The Religious Thought of Howard Thurman
  • New Religious Movements
  • Slave Religion and Culture in the American South
  • Religions of the African Diaspora
  • Black Religion in Context: Harlem
  • Postcolonial Discourse and Black Religious Thought

Selected Writing

  • “’But it was God’s own mighty plan:’ American Religion, Global Pandemics, and the Hidden History of Racial Pandemonium” in Dorothea Erbele-Küster and Volker Küster, eds., Between Pandemonium and Pandemethics: Responses to Covid-19 from Theology and Religions (Leipzig, Germany: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt GmbH, 2022), 69-84.
  • “Signifying Religion: Charles Long” in Sarah J. Bloesch and Cooper Minister, eds. Introduction to Contemporary Theories of Religion (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2018), 93-109.
  • "The Divided Soul of Kendrick Lamar" Esquire (May 16, 2022) https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/music/a40007611/kendrick-lamar-mr-morale-album-review/
  • “Making America Possible Again: Towards a New Social Gospel in the 21st Century,” Journal of Religious Leadership, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Autumn 2021), 24-36.
  • “‘That’s Not How the Story Ends:’ Vincent Harding’s Liberating Vision of African American Religious History.” Black Theology: An International Journal Vol. 17, No. 3 (2019): 176–194.
  • “Deep in the Heart of Texas: Race, Religion, and Rights in the COVID-19 Era," Stacey Floyd-Thomas, ed. Religion, Race and COVID-19: Confronting White Supremacy in the Pandemic (New York: New York University Press, 2021), 185-214.
  • "The Donald Went Down to Georgia: The GOP from God's Own Party to the Party of Trump," Miguel De La Torre, ed., Faith and Reckoning After Trump (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2021), 13-24.
  • "The God That Never Failed: Black Christian Marxism as Prophetic Call to Action and Hope," Jin Young Choi & Joerg Rieger, Eds., Faith, Class, and Labor: Intersectional Approaches in a Global Context (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2020), 44-68.
  • “The Good, the M.A.A.D., and the Holy: Kendrick Lamar’s Meditations on Sin and Moral Agency in the Post-Gangsta Era” in Christopher M. Driscoll, Monica R Miller, Anthony B. Pinn, eds., Kendrick Lamar and the Making of Black Meaning. (London: Routledge, 2019), 69-98.
  • “Black Prophetic Discourse and Just War Theory in the Age of Obama” in Juan M. Floyd-Thomas and Anthony B. Pinn, eds. Religion in the Age of Obama (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2018), 108-127.
  • “‘A Relatively New Discovery in the Modern West:’ #BlackLivesMatter and the Evolution of Black Humanism,” KALFOU: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2017), 30-39.
  • “Towards a Religious History of the Black Atlantic: Charles H. Long’s Significations and New World Slavery,” Journal of Religious History Vol. 40, No. 4 (December 2016), 1-22.