“Civil Religion and Race in the United States”

2023 Symposium Schedule

Unless otherwise indicated, all sessions are in the Numen Lumen Pavilion.

Thursday, Feb. 9 

3:00 Check-in, Coffee

3:45 Welcome, Brian K. Pennington, Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society


4:00-5:15: Session 1: Varieties of US Civil Religion
Geoff Claussen, Elon Department of Religious Studies, presiding

Judah Isseroff (Princeton University), “From Pluralism to Judeo-Christian Values: The New American Jewish Approach to Civil Religion”

Joe Bartzel, (Washington University in St. Louis), “The United States Needs Truth and Irreconciliation”


5:45-7:00: Keynote Address (McKinnon Hall E/F)

Sylvester Johnson (Virginia Tech University), “Racial States, Civil Religion, and the Future of American Democracy”

7:00: Dinner (McKinnon Hall D)


Friday, Feb. 10

9:00-10:15 Session 2: Civil Religion and Violence
Amy Allocco, Elon Department of Religious Studies, presiding

Megan Goodwin (Bates University), “Kool-aid Countermemory: Mis/remembering Peoples Temple”

Jonathan Ebel (University of Illinois), “Rifles, Race, and American Civil Religion”


10:15-11:00 Coffee: Sponsored by the Religious Studies Department


11:00-12:15: Session 3: Civil Religion and Affect
Dinidu Karunanayake, Elon Department of English, presiding

Shana Sippy, (Centre College), “Supremacism, Victimization and the Affective Politics of Hindu Americans”

Candace Jordan (Princeton University), “Black Lives Matter as (Un)civil Religion”


12:30-2:00 Lunch (Lakeside 212)


2:00-4:00  Session 4: Civil Religion and Empire
Lynn Huber, Elon Department of Religious Studies, presiding

Nichole Phillips (Emory University), “Spilling (un)American Blood: Race, Civil Religion, U.S. Borders, Blood, Sacrifice and Service”

Jeffrey Wheatley, (Iowa State University), “Civil Religion, Fanaticism, and Materiality in US Occupied Philippines”

Isaiah Ellis, (The University of Toronto), “The Civilizing Road: Race, Empire, and the Infrastructure of Civil Religion in the American South”


7:00 Dinner: Home of Brian Pennington and Amy Allocco


Saturday, Feb. 11

9:00-10:15 Session 5: US Civil Religion and Whiteness
Waseem bin-Kasim, Elon Department of History and Geography, presiding

Valeria Vergani, (Stanford University), “Interfaith America, the America We Want: Negotiating American Nationhood and Religio-Racial Belonging in Interfaith Organizing”

Claire Hautot (University of Chicago), “The Theater of Mourning and White Victimhood at the Pilgrimage to the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier”


10:15-11:30 Concluding Discussion

Andrew Monteith and Jessica Carew (Elon University)