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Juan Floyd-Thomas

Associate Professor of African American Religious History

On leave Spring 2023

In his teaching and research interests as a religious historian, Prof. Floyd-Thomas emphasizes: religious pluralism within modern American society; the intersection of race, ethnicity, and religion in United States; study of new / alternative religious movements; interdisciplinary approaches to the academic study of religious thought, especially philosophical, cultural, political, economic, and social scientific theories and methods for analyzing the intersections of popular culture and religion; the varieties of African American religious experience; and African American churches and sociopolitical reform. 

In addition to having written 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 (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 his next major research project, a book about the history of African American religion in Harlem.

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, and Singapore. Additionally, he has been quoted in such media outlets ranging from the Washington Post, Boston Globe, WVXU Cincinnati Public Radio, NPR’s All Things Considered, and WBEZ’s Sound Opinions to name a few.

His research has been funded by fellowships and grants from the Louisville Institute, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and most recently the Robert Penn Warren Center for Humanities at Vanderbilt University. From 2008-2011, Prof. Floyd-Thomas served on the cultural resources team of the African American Online Lectionary.  Currently, he serves as the Executive Director of the Society for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion (SRER). Additionally, he is both a co-founder and an executive board member of the Black Religious Scholars Group (BRSG).  Recently, he was appointed as an Associate Editor for the American Academy of Religion's Reading Religion website.

He was named the Sankofa Scholar by Candler School of Theology’s Black Church Studies Program and taught intensive courses, “A Black History of Liberation: The Black Church Tradition and the Quest for Social Justice,” and “Cone, Cannon and the Moral Theology of Black Popular Culture “ during the January Terms 2016 and 2019 respectively at Emory University.

Selected Courses

  • Introduction to Black Church Studies
  • Critical Readings in African American Religion: W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Moral Philosophy of Black Popular Culture
  • Race, Religion, and Protest Music
  • Black Prophetic Witness: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin
  • Cultural Significations and Black Religion
  • Reel Black Faith: Race, Religion, and Film
  • The Religious Thought of Howard Thurman
  • Black Churches and the Quest for Economic Justice
  • New Religious Movements
  • Black Religion in Context: Harlem
  • Religions of the African Diaspora
  • Postcolonial Discourse and Black Religious Thought
  • Black Religion and Hip-Hop [Special Topics in African and African Diaspora Studies] 

Selected Writing

"The Divided Soul of Kendrick Lamar" Esquire, 16 May 2022,

“’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), 1-20. 

“The Good, the M.A.A.D., and the Holy: Kendrick Lamar’s Meditations on Sin, Salvation, and Moral Agency in the Post-Gangsta Era” in Christopher Driscoll, Monica R. Miller, and Anthony B. Pinn, eds. Kendrick Lamar and the Making of Black Meaning (London: Routledge, 2019), 69-98.

“Signifying Religion: Charles Long” in Sarah J. Bloesch and Meredith Minister, eds. Cultural Approaches to Studying Religion: Introduction to Contemporary Theories of Religion (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2018), 93-109.

“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.

“Welfare Reform and the Ghost of the ‘Welfare Queen,’” New Politics (Summer 2016), 6-12.

“Economic Justice, and Globalization in Black Church Studies: Confronting the ‘Malignant Kinship’ in the Post-Civil Rights Era” in Alton B. Pollard III and Carol B. Duncan, eds., The Black Church Studies Reader (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 303-318.

“Gaining One's Definition: The (De) Christianization of Malcolm X's Life and Legacy,” Journal of Africana Religions Vol. 3, No. 1 (2015), 44-61.

“Between Jim Crow and the Swastika: African American Religio-Cultural Interpretations of the Holocaust,” Black Theology: An International Journal Vol. 12, No. 1 (2014), 1-15.

“Liberation in African American Theology” in Anthony B. Pinn and Katie G. Cannon, eds. Oxford Handbook of African American Theology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 200-212.

“Merging Head, Heart, and Hand: Reverend Leon H. Sullivan and the Black Church's Quest for Economic Justice” in R. Drew Smith, ed. From Every Mountainside: Black Churches and Civil Rights Beyond the Southern Movement, (Albany, NY:  SUNY Press, 2013), 111-126.

“More Than Conquerors: Just War Theory and the Need for a Black Christian Antiwar Movement," Black Theology: An International Journal Vol. 9, No. 2 (2011), 136-160.