Columns, Media, & Blogs

Essays and Op-Eds

North Carolina’s ‘Official Religion': The Convoluted History of American States and Established Religions,” Religion & Politics (April 2013).

  • A recently proposed bill in the North Carolina senate claimed that the federal government had no authority to prevent the state from establishing an official religion. This essay gives some historical background to the issues of religious beliefs, regional identities, and state sovereignty.

Why Do Mormons Love the Fourth of July So Much?” Religion & Politics (July 2012).

  • Mormons appear today as among the most patriotic faiths in America. But a closer examination, especially an examination of how they have celebrated the Fourth of July, shows a contested history between the church and the nation. This column looked at a few snapshots of the ambivalent history, starting with when Mormons “declared independence” from America in 1845 up until the present Freedom Festival held in Provo–one of the most patriotic celebrations in the country.

Mormon Patriotism and the Cultural Reading of Scripture,” Peculiar People (May 2012).

  • American Mormons have long read nationalism into their scriptural texts, perpetuating an American tradition of blending culture and theology, religion and politics.

Mitt Romney, Mormonism, and the Tensions of an ‘American’ Religion,” Peculiar People (March 2012).

  • Mormonism’s complicated relationship to the American nation and government, rather than being an aberration, is a potent example of the dynamic nature of America’s religious history.

The Perils of an Open Canon,” Patheos (March 2012).

  • The persistence of outdated racist ideas within Mormonism, as demonstrated by statements from a BYU religion professor, demonstrate the tensions inherent within a  church claiming an “open canon” of truth and prophets.

‘Obviously’ Christian: The American Tradition of Using Orthodoxy as a Bludgeon,” Patheos (July 2011).

  • An off-hand quip about Mitt Romney’s religion hints to a broader American tradition of dismissing peripheral religions in order to perpetuate the myth of religious homogeneity.

Art, Politics, and Religion: McNaughton’s Agenda,” Patheos (May 2011).

  • An examination of how religion and art become subservient to politics, as exemplified in a Utah-based and Tea Party enthusiast painter.

Media Interviews

“Mormon Momentum,” The New Humanist (27 July 2012).

  • Engaged the historical relationship between Mormonism and Evangelical churches, especially when they intersect in politics.

“The Mormon Moment is Now,” Washington Post (11 April 2012).

  • Interviewed on the significance of Mitt Romney’s presidential run to Mormons.

“Art, Politics, and the Paintings of Jon McNaughton,” RadioWest, NPR Affiliate (29 March 2012)

  • Discussed the intersections of religion, politics, and art.

Columns and Blogs

The Junto: founder and contributor. Blog focused on early American history, historiography, methodology, and pedagogy.

Peculiar People: co-founder and contributor. Bi-weekly column, split between seventeen contributors, focused on religion and the public sphere.

Juvenile Instructor: co-founder and contributor. Blog focused on Mormon history and historiography. (My contributions found here.)